COVID-19 Orders and Current Challenges

The election is less than 8 days away and COVID-19 remains as the top issue both in the state and nation. Here in Wisconsin, there has been a significant uptick of cases. Gov. Evers has issued emergency orders to address the pandemic and faces numerous legal challenges. This legal push and pull on COVID-19 policies has shaped the state’s political backdrop heading into the election.

Here is a breakdown of the latest orders and challenges:

(for recent developments refer to Hamilton’s COVID-19 page)

Executive Order #90 Declaration of Public Health Emergency

  • July 30, 2020.  Evers issued an Executive Order declaring Public Health Emergency and Emergency Order #1 requiring face coverings statewide.
  • October 16, 2020. Original action filed by Jere Fabick, President of the Heartland Institute, asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to weigh in on the Governor’s authority to order multiple states of emergency. (Governor Evers issued Executive Order #72 establishing the first state of emergency on March 12 through May 11).
  • Status: In effect until Nov. 21 or until it is revoked by the Governor or by joint resolution of the Wisconsin State Legislature.

Emergency Order #1 Statewide Mask Requirement

  • July 30, 2020.  Evers issued Executive Order declaring Public Health Emergency and Emergency Order #1 requiring face coverings statewide.
  • August 25, 2020. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit against Gov. Evers in Polk County for “violating state law by declaring a second public health emergency on July 30.”
  • October 12, 2020. The Polk County judge refused to give the plaintiffs a temporary restraining order. The judge wrote that the Legislature has the power to terminate Evers’ order but has declined to do so.
  • October 12, 2020. WILL plans to appeal.
  • Status: In effect until November 21, 2020 or by a subsequent superseding emergency order.

Emergency Order #2 Addressing healthcare staffing needs

  • October 1, 2020.Gov. Evers and DHS Secretary-designee Palm issued Emergency Order #2 to make it easier for out-of-state health workers to work in Wisconsin.
  • Status: In effect for duration of federal public health emergency or until a superseding order is issued.

Emergency Order #3 Limiting public gatherings to no more than 25 percent of a room or building’s total occupancy

  • October 6, 2020. Gov. Evers and DHS Secretary-designee Palm issued Emergency Order #3 which limits public gatherings statewide to no more than 25% of a room or a building total occupancy.
  • October 12, 2020. Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules voted 6-4 (along party lines) finding the need for the Department of Health Services to submit an Emergency Rule.
  • The vote now requires the Evers administration to issue a capacity limit rule within 30-days, a step that would then allow the panel to move to suspend it without action before the full Legislature.
    • Order #3 is set to expire on Nov. 2 while the 30-day timeline for DHS to issue a rule will not expire until Nov. 11.
  • October 13, 2020. Tavern League filed suit against the Order.
  • October 14, 2020. A Sawyer County judge has issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Evers administration’s order limiting public indoor gatherings to 25 percent of a room’s capacity.
  • October 19, 2020. After judicial substitutions, a Barron County judge held a hearing on the case and put back in place Gov. Evers’s limits on indoor public gatherings.
  • October 21, 2020. A different group of plaintiffs (including The Mix Up, Inc., and Pro-Life Wisconsin) filed an appeal in Wisconsin’s District 3 Court of Appeals and asked for a ruling by Friday, Oct. 23.
  • October 23, 2020. Instead of appealing the case to the Appeals Court, the plaintiffs in the case are now asking the WI Supreme Court to take up the case as an original action, and consider combining it with the challenge brought by Jere Fabick regarding the declaration of another public health emergency.
  • October 23, 2020. 3rd District Court of Appeals voted 2-1 to reinstate the temporary injunction on Emergency Order #3.
  • Status: Not in effect under temporary injunction.