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WI Hospitals Urge Residents to Follow 'Safer at Home' Order

Wisconsin officials hope the state's hospital system doesn't become overwhelmed by the pandemic, so Gov. Tony Evers has issued an order to shutter nonessential business and travel. Violators could face fines and jail time. (Adobe Stock)
Wisconsin officials hope the state's hospital system doesn't become overwhelmed by the pandemic, so Gov. Tony Evers has issued an order to shutter nonessential business and travel. Violators could face fines and jail time. (Adobe Stock)
March 25, 2020

MADISON, Wis. -- Over the next month, Wisconsin residents are urged to stay in their homes unless it's essential, as the state responds to the global pandemic.

The governor's "Safer At Home" order, which runs today through at least April 24, prohibits nonessential travel or business activity. The Wisconsin Hospital Association has said those who ignore the order could put greater stress on health-care providers, and Mark Kaufman, the association's chief medical officer, said this is is a vital tool that should allow facilities to give the proper level of care to patients.

"Social distancing is really what we as individuals can do, and what we can do collectively as a community, to really have an impact on the number of new cases, the pace at which they come," he said.

For the moment, Kaufman said, Wisconsin hospitals are in a good position to treat patients, although they are seeing a lack of protective gear for health-care workers. But if not enough people heed the stay-at home warnings, or seek non-emergency care without calling their doctor first, he said, it could overwhelm the system. The state has said Wisconsin now has more than 500 COVID-19 cases, with at least five deaths.

While there sometimes are mixed messages from the federal government about what the public should do, Kaufman said, it's best to follow health experts and local agencies.

"I would listen to respected medical authorities," he said. "Look for them to be aligned with your local public-health officials, as well as your local governance structure, in terms of the governor of your state."

This week, President Donald Trump indicated he'd like to see guidelines for social distancing gradually lifted heading into April, so economic activity would be on the upswing by the Easter holiday. However, health experts have suggested that preventive measures will need to last longer to be most effective.

Gov. Tony Evers' emergency order is online at wpr.org.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - WI