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Governor Tony Evers announced the ‘Badger Bounce Back’ plan, a three-phase program to allow businesses to reopen and people to get back to work and social life.

“As we’ve learned over the past month, in the most difficult of circumstances, Wisconsinites will rise to the occasion, helping each other and working together to do what’s best for our families, our neighbors, and our communities,” said Gov. Evers.

The Badger Bounce Back plan is available here.

Wisconsin now has 4,522 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection, and 231 people have died, according to state and county health data.

About 27 percent of those who test positive, 1,211 people so far have required hospitalization. There are currently 406 people in the hospital, up from 361 on Friday.

Racine County health officials reported 184 cases, plus 65 probable cases. To date, ten people have died from the COVID-19 virus. The probable cases include people who are symptomatic, but haven’t been tested but are presumed positive because they had direct contact with a person who was diagnosed with COVID-19.

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.

Reopening the state includes several phases

The first phase would allow gatherings of up to 10 people, restaurants to reopen with distancing requirements in place, and schools and daycare centers to reopen. The second phase would allow groups of up to 50, full operations of restaurants, and opening of retail establishments with some distancing requirements. The third phase would be to resume full business operations statewide.

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.

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.

There is no timeline for when each phase would begin. But the criteria to move into the first phase is based on White House guidelines — namely, a decrease in people showing COVID19 symptoms and testing positive for 14 consecutive days, as well as “robust testing programs for at-risk healthcare workers.”

A press release announcing the plan said Wisconsin has not yet met those criteria.

Evers calls for more COVID-19 testing

Gov. Tony Evers said testing would be a crucial part of the Badger Bounce Back plan, and that the state now has a goal to test 12,000 people every day — almost ten times as many as having been tested daily to this point.

State Republicans criticized Evers for not having a plan to reopen the state after he extended the Safer at Home order through May 26. House Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) took issue with Evers’ plan to hire 10,000 new contract tracers.

“Instead of listening to the resounding outcry from the people of the state, Governor Evers is now making it harder to reopen Wisconsin. He claims to be following the CDC guidelines but instead is expanding on them, saying we need to hire 1,000 new contract tracers when positive cases aren’t significantly increasing. The governor also wants to postpone reopening until we increase testing when we are currently using only around 20% of our testing capacity. These are not criteria for reopening, they’re roadblocks.

Whitehouse plan gives general framework for opening states

To date, 51,102 people have been tested, which represents .88 percent of the 5.822 million people that reside in Wisconsin. Up until Thursday, April 16, clinicians were told the state would only process tests from healthcare workers who had symptoms and people who needed hospitalization that were symptomatic.

According to the Whitehouse’s plan to Reopen America, states needed to have the:

  • Ability to quickly set up safe and efficient screening and testing sites for symptomatic individuals and trace contacts of COVID+ results
  • Ability to test Syndromic/ILI-indicated persons for COVID and trace contacts of COVID+ results
  • Ensure sentinel surveillance sites are screening for asymptomatic cases and contacts for COVID+ results are traced (sites operate at locations that serve older individuals, lower-income Americans, racial minorities, and Native Americans)

HEALTHCARE SYSTEM CAPACITY

  • Ability to quickly and independently supply sufficient Personal Protective Equipment and critical medical equipment to handle dramatic surge in need
  • Ability to surge ICU capacity

PLANS

  • Protect the health and safety of workers in critical industries
  • Protect the health and safety of those living and working in high-risk facilities (e.g., senior care facilities)
  • Protect employees and users of mass transit
  • Advise citizens regarding protocols for social distancing and face coverings
  • Monitor conditions and immediately take steps to limit and mitigate any rebounds or outbreaks by restarting a phase or returning to an earlier phase, depending on the severity

But Vos pointed out that Evers’ plan did not consider a geographic-specific plan, but instead was a “one-size fits all approach” that didn’t take into account communities that fewer cases. He also called on Evers to provide more certainty to the public.

While DHS reports that 60% of counties have fewer than 10 cases, and 10% have none, Governor Evers is doubling down on his plan to keep the entire state locked down until after Memorial Day, well past every state in the region,” he said. “We continue to call on the governor to retreat from his one-size-fits-all approach and allow the state to safely open up regionally so people can get back to work. Wisconsin is a diverse state; obviously, the Northwoods can’t be treated like Dane and Milwaukee counties. Using the CDC guidelines, it appears portions of the state would be only days away from the first phase of reopening.”

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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.