On November 10, Governor Evers took the rare step of delivering a prime-time address to the people of Wisconsin to urge them to take COVID more seriously. According to the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau, such special addresses from Wisconsin governors are infrequent and, in recent memory, include only remarks from Scott Walker about a budget repair bill, Scott McCallum shortly after September 11, and Tommy Thompson celebrating Wisconsin’s sesquicentennial.
Recognizing divisions that have existed for months over how Wisconsin should respond to the virus, Governor Evers called for unity, saying, “We must start fighting the virus together, and we must start tonight.” Describing the state’s exponential growth in COVID cases, the Governor noted that it had taken Wisconsin seven and a half months to get to 100,000 cases, but only 36 days to add another 100,000, and will likely take only 20 more days to add another 100,000 cases at the state’s current pace. The Governor noted that in response to the dramatic increase in cases, Wisconsin’s health care workers have stepped up by working overtime and putting themselves and their families at risk. Governor Evers expressed his concern for them and the rest of the state if the state does not get the virus under control, saying, “We owe them our thanks, but they also deserve our action.”
Responding to the urgent situation, the Governor issued Executive Order 94, advising Wisconsinites to get back to the basics of fighting the virus by staying home when possible, avoiding gatherings large and small, washing hands often, and wearing a mask and maintaining social distancing when people must go out in public. Evers also called on businesses and the general public to work together, suggesting businesses expand work-from-home options if possible, and that people refrain from going to work or school if they become sick or symptomatic.
While the Governor encouraged Wisconsinites to continue supporting local businesses, restaurants, and workers by using curbside pickup and online ordering when possible, he urged them to avoid small private gatherings, including happy hours, dinner parties, sleepovers, and playdates at home. “If a friend or family member invites you over, offer to hang out virtually instead,” he said, adding, “it’s not safe to have others over — it's just not safe. And it might not be safe for a while yet."
Lastly, Governor Evers said he would be releasing a COVID-19 legislative package soon. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos noted that his caucus would meet next week to discuss specific ideas to address issues related to COVID-19. He also said had reached out to Governor Evers to express his hope that the legislature and the Governor could work together on COVID. WHA is closely following these developments with the Governor and Legislature and continues to echo the importance of Wisconsinites doing all they can to stop the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.