Legislative leaders signal Wisconsin will maintain county response as coronavirus cases climb

The number of new coronavirus cases in the state is continuing to climb, but leaders in the state Legislature signaled Monday they still aren’t interested in a statewide response to a recent spike.

State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, one of the Republicans behind the Safer at Home lawsuit, said in a statement he does not support shutting down businesses again or mandating mask wearing as has been done in other states.

“It’s clear from the actions of Milwaukee and Madison that the responses will be regional,” Fitzgerald said. “Bars and restaurants should follow the safe practices put forward by the WEDC to ensure that they can maintain proper social distancing.”

The Speaker of the Assembly also indicated he was not interested in another statewide order.

“People should continue to follow the CDC guidelines and to take prudent precautions,” Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a statement to News 3 Now. “We continue monitor regional hospitalization rates which indicate hospital resources are in good shape to handle cases of the virus.”

Last week Dane County modified its order to better respond to common threads the health department is seeing in contact tracing interviews. Now people at bars have to be seated, and that seating must be distanced 6 feet apart.

The change followed a five-day spike with nearly 400 new cases. Statewide case numbers have been on an upward trajectory since mid-June.

A Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling blocked an order from the state Department of Health Services that continued “Safer at Home,” and the state is no longer in the declared public health emergency that the governor started in March that allowed for the original order, so it’s unclear what, if any, orders the administration could put into place right now. The Evers administration gave up on crafting an emergency rule after the ruling.

The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.