Thursday briefing: Gov. Evers, state health officials talk Safer At Home extension, state’s response to coronavirus


FILE – In this Feb. 23, 2019 file photo, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers speaks during an interview during the National Governors Association 2019 winter meeting in Washington. Evers said Thursday, March 14, that the state budget he proposed is “pretty close” to not raising taxes, even though it would increase them by $1.3 billion over two years. Evers, in an interview on WTMJ radio, said that there “may be some small tax increases.” The comments drew an incredulous reaction from Republican legislative leaders.(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

THURSDAY 4/16/2020 1:45 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – “Though we may not be in the same boat, we’re all in the same storm,” Governor Tony Evers said during Thursday’s media briefing, highlighting the importance of his extension of the Safer At Home order and other efforts the state is making in the battle against the coronavirus.

Secretary-designee Andrea Palm of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services went on to say that ‘Safer At Home’ order is working but that we aren’t in the clear yet.

Secretary Missy Hughes, Chief Executive Officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, says officials continue to work to ensure businesses in the state are ready to open when the time comes.

How does Safer At Home differ from the state health emergency?

Ryan Nilsestuen, Chief Legal Counsel, Office of the Governor, says the Safer At Home order is different from the state health emergency. He explains that the state health emergency, which ends in early May, allows state officials to focus its response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Safer At Home order relies more on Sec. Palm and DHS, not Gov. Evers’ state health emergency.

What about the Special Election in the 7th Congressional District in May?

Nilsestuen says officials are keeping an eye on this, but this election is different from April’s election. A lower voter turnout is anticipated and there are less confirmed cases in the 7th Congressional District. Futher, Nilsestuen says there has been more time to prepare for this election.

There has been some pushback on the extension of the Safer At Home order – what message do you have to those pushing back?

Gov. Evers says the extension is crucial to prepare businesses to reopen on a gradual path. It also allows the state to have more access to PPE, contact tracing, and testing. He goes on to say that extending the Safer At Home further allows the curve to really go down.

Gov. Evers adds that Wisconsin has joined other Midwest states that will coordinate on reopening their state economies, after similar pacts were made in the Northeast and on the West Coast.

Are we seeing a large number of people traveling to cabins or second-homes?

Sec. Palm says that they have heard of people traveling to their second-homes and want to encourage people to remain at their primary residence. By doing this, it puts less strain on more rural areas of Wisconsin, especially in the Northwoods.

What is the state doing for the mental health of Wisconsinites? What about healthcare workers and first responders on the frontlines?

Sec. Palm says that state officials are working to ensure that those who have behavioral or mental health issues have access to the help that they need. She went on to add that they are working to “bulk up” Resilient Wisconsin, the state’s effort to bring together the latest mental and behavioral health self-care tools and trauma-informed practices. 

Gov. Evers says we have to be prepared for a “longer haul” on this situation and that the trauma for healthcare workers may last some time beyond the pandemic. He says that the state will continue to monitor the situation and do their best to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those affected.

Golf courses are now allowed to reopen – what contributed to that change?

Gov. Evers says staff, after reviewing the original Safer At Home order, decided that golf courses could open with restrictions.

Have we hit our peak yet?

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases, says we won’t be able to tell if we’ve hit the peak until we’re beyond the peak. He does say that the curve appears to be a flat curve as a constant, average number of cases are reported, but that it’s hard to tell if or when we’ve hit the peak.

Is there a chance of large group gatherings like graduation parties or festivals can happen?

Gov. Evers says that, as of right now, large group gatherings “aren’t in the cards” because of the risk of spreading the virus.


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Wisconsin governor, state health officials to give update on status of coronavirus response

THURSDAY 4/16/2020 10:15 a.m.

(WFRV) – Governor Tony Evers will be joined by other state officials on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. to give an update on the status of Wisconsin’s coronavirus response.

The media briefing comes just a day after Gov. Evers signed a bill passed by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature that clears the way for spending about $2 billion the state is receiving in federal funds.

Gov. Evers will be joined by Secretary-designee Andrea Palm of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Secretary Missy Hughes, Chief Executive Officer of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases, and Ryan Nilsestuen, Chief Legal Counsel, Office of the Governor.

WFRV Local 5 will stream the full briefing above at 1:30 p.m.

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