With a focus on beefing up the infrastructure needed to contain the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus), Governor Tony Evers extended the Safer at Home order to 8 a.m. May 26.

The order leaves open the possibility that it also could get extended again. The directive also includes new measures to make sure local and state officials can contain the virus. But it does allow some activities to start up again.

Somewhere between 20 and 60 percent of adults could contract the virus, and about a fifth of the people who get COVID-19 could need to be hospitalized, according to officials at the Harvard Global Health Institute.

Safer at Home flattening the curve, Evers says

The number of known cases is significantly less than predictive models that indicated that the state would see between 440 and 1,500 deaths by April 8. As of Thursday afternoon, the state reported 197 deaths and 3,875 cases, of the 44,849 people tested.

Still, health officials have voiced concerns that the spread of the virus could mean more significant numbers of people will need medical care. If that happens, hospitals will not be able to deal with a higher volume of patient care. The term flattening the curve refers to fewer people contracting the virus and having less of an impact on the state’s healthcare system.

The order is available here

“A few weeks ago, we had a pretty grim outlook for what COVID-19 could mean for our state, but because of the efforts of all of you, Safer at Home is working. That said, we aren’t out of the woods just yet,” said Gov. Evers. “As I’ve said all along, we are going to rely on science and public health experts to guide us through this challenge. So, as we extend Safer at Home, I need all of you to continue doing the good work you’ve been doing so we can keep our families, our neighbors, and our communities safe, and get through this storm together.”

Some businesses and activities need to adapt

All public and private K-12 schools, libraries, places of public amusement and activity, and salons and spas need to remain closed. Schools can, however, continue distance learning or virtual learning. They can also remain open for essential government functions and food distribution.

The order allows more businesses and activities to open back up, including:

  • Public libraries: Public libraries may now provide curbside pick-up of books and other library materials. 
  • Golf Courses: Golf courses may open again, with restrictions including scheduling and paying for tee times online or by phone only. Clubhouses and pro shops must remain closed.
  • Non-essential Businesses: Non-essential businesses will now be able to do more things as Minimum Basic Operations, including deliveries, mailings, and curbside pick-up. Non-essential businesses must notify workers of whether they are necessary for the Minimum Basic Operations.
  • Arts and Crafts Stores: Arts and craft stores may offer expanded curbside pick-up of materials necessary to make face masks or other personal protective equipment (PPE). 
  • Aesthetic or Optional Exterior Work: Aesthetic or optional exterior law care or construction is now allowed under the extended order, so long as it can be done by one person.

State officials expect increased self-quarantine areas and beefed up contact tracing efforts. Additional testing is expected to occur in long-term care, prisons, and jails, and assisted living facilities where outbreaks may happen. Between added contact tracing and testing, they hope to stop the spread of the disease.

“We’re going to press on a number of different channels to build the number of tests more in line with the capacity we have as we continue to ramp capacity in the state of Wisconsin,” Palm said.

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Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for Patch.com, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.