Story at a glance
- As positive COVID-19 cases grow, Wisconsin reinstates capacity limitation on indoor venues.
- The state recently set a record for new daily coronavirus infections.
With one of the fastest rising testing positivity rates in the country, a Wisconsin judge has reimposed precautions in a bid to slow the coronavirus spread, The Associated Press reports. Specifically, the order will limit the number of people who can congregate in restaurants, bars and more indoor spaces to 25 percent capacity.
The administration of Gov. Tony Evers (D) initially issued the order on Oct. 6, but it was blocked by a judge on Wednesday following the Tavern League of Wisconsin saying it would force businesses out of operation.
On Monday, Barron County Judge James Babler reinstated the limits, declining the Tavern League’s requests to keep the capacity limit on hold while their lawsuit against the state is pending.
“This critically important ruling will help us prevent the spread of this virus by restoring limits on public gatherings," Evers said in a statement. He also encouraged residents to limit their travel, wear masks when outside the home and continue to physically distance from people outside of the household.
The capacity order limit will expire on Nov. 6 but could be renewed if cases do not decrease substantially.
Currently, the Wisconsin Department of Health reports 173,891 cumulative positive cases, with an increase of 3,777 new COVID-19 infections for the prior day. The epidemiological chart of the state’s coronavirus situation paints a grim picture, with increasing daily records of new COVID-19 cases in the state, overwhelmingly surpassing previous peaks seen in April and May.
While these new restrictions could help the new case count decrease, hospitalizations due to COVID-19 infections continue to rise. Health department data indicate that the most hospitalizations are occurring in the state’s southeast region, home to cities like Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha.
The Wisconsin State Journal quantifies this increase, noting that 1,090 COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized in the state. Of those, 284 patients are in intensive care units, which is a 14-patient increase from Oct. 18.
Statewide, hospital capacity is at 82 percent.
Evers has asked state lawmakers to implement public health protocols to halt the spread of the virus following a report disseminated by the White House Coronavirus Task Force warning Wisconsin that if critical public health mitigation orders are not implemented, the situation will worsen.