When the Wisconsin Supreme Court yesterday voted to invalidate the Safer at Home extension order, which was in place through May 26, issued by the Department of Health Services, Public Health Madison and Dane County chose to use its local authority to continue the Safer at Home guidelines until 8 a.m. on Tuesday, May 26.

“We are disappointed in the ruling, as the Safer at Home order has substantially slowed the increase of COVID-19 cases in Dane County,” Public Health Madison and Dane County wrote in a release, sent out shortly after the court’s decision. “According to the criteria Public Health Madison & Dane County has identified using the Badger Bounce Back scorecard our county data looks promising, but it is critical to continue following Safer at Home right now to keep Dane County residents healthy and keep our healthcare system from becoming overwhelmed.

“By continuing to follow Safer at Home and practicing physical distancing, we can all work together to achieve these criteria and begin the phased reopening of Dane County as soon as possible.”

Dane County wasn’t the only area putting a local order in place; Brown County opted to continue the Safer at Home plan until May 20, Rock County will have Safer at Home in place until the May 26, city of Racine will follow the order as will the city of Milwaukee and its suburbs.

Today, Gail Scott, director of the Jefferson County Health Department, sent a release noting the county would follow the ruling of the court. With that being said, businesses are urged to continue to follow the Center of Disease Control’s guidelines for social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting in addition to considering the guidelines issued by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.

“Businesses may also want to check with their legal counsel to see how to open safely during a pandemic while also considering legal implications of cases that may be related to their business operations,” Scott said.

In an effort to continue to protect the health of the county, the Jefferson County Health Department will continue to provide active COVID-19 surveillance and look for any trends, track active virus cases in a timely manner, and work closely with local hospitals, neighboring counties and the state to ensure there is an adequate testing capacity.

“Even though the Court ruled in this way, Jefferson County Health Department strongly encourages all Jefferson County residents to voluntarily comply with the key components of the Safer at Home Order,” Scott said. “Guidance on large gatherings will be coming out soon. For now it is still recommended to continue to limit numbers of people gathering to limit spread of the virus.

These include:

• Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and others;

• Do not congregate in groups larger than 10 people without physical distancing between groups;

• Wash your hands frequently;

• Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.

• If you are considered high risk due to age or health condition continue to remain safer at home and take precautions – only going out for essential reasons and working from home as much as possible.

Businesses and organizations should do the following to prepare for a safe reopening:

• Develop flexible sick leave policies that encourage staying home when ill

• Set aggressive infection control policies (hand washing, surface cleaning, barriers to reduce contact between customers and staff)

• Source needed disinfectants, soap, sanitizer, and PPE if used

• Ensure all operations support 6 feet physical distancing

• Create a system to monitor any symptoms your employees may have

• Cross train and prepare for absenteeism

• Implement a system to limit and direct traffic in your business

• Communicate your plan to employees and customers

“Covid-19 has not gone away and will not in foreseeable future. The Health Department will continue monitoring for increased cases and may need to target certain areas for restrictions based on those case increases,” Scott said. “A strong economy is vital to public health and safety. We can’t have healthy residents and a healthy community without people working and our businesses providing the goods and services needed. We simply want everyone to continue to be safe.”

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