Walworth County Public Health Provides Guidance to Community Following the End of the Safer at Home Order
Per a press release on May 14, “In the wake of the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the Safer at Home Order, effective immediately, businesses can open and people can travel and gather in large groups. Walworth County’s Division of Public Health will not be issuing orders that replace Safer at Home at this time.
Today, Walworth County released guidance on the county website for area businesses on how to implement protocols to protect their customers. County Public Health Officer, Erica Bergstrom stated, “We have faith in our business leaders and believe they will follow these guidelines and implement strategies to protect their customers and staff.” The risks to the public from COVID-19 are ongoing and will extend beyond the next week or the next two weeks. As such, short-term public health orders are not likely to have a significant lasting impact. Any effective solution will be dependent upon individuals and businesses making personal decisions to proactively protect themselves, their guests, and their customers.
Walworth County places great importance on the health and safety of the public. We have already seen businesses take extraordinary steps to continue to provide services while keeping their employees and members of the public safe. “Novel Coronavirus 2019 is still circulating in the community, and we need all businesses, residents and visitors of Walworth County to actively participate in controlling the spread of disease,” said Bergstrom. “Even though the Safer at Home Order has been overturned, we strongly advise that everyone voluntarily comply with its key components: physical distancing, limited travel and gatherings, and frequent cleaning.” Walworth County will continue to perform communicable disease surveillance and prompt follow-up with confirmed cases and close contacts.
The Division of Public Health, Emergency Management, first responders and local government will continue to work together to keep people safe. Public Health advises everyone take the following steps to avoid getting sick or spreading COVID-19:
- Frequent and thorough handwashing with soap and water, or hand sanitizer.
- Stay home when sick, including even mild symptoms, and discuss your health with your primary medical care provider.
- Practice physical distancing.
- Cover coughs and sneezes.
- Avoid touching your face.
View the guidance document for business here: https://www.co.walworth.wi.us/856/COVID-19.
Banner opinion: The above guidance document has very specific strong recommendations for various types of businesses and organizations such as churches/religious entities. For example, bars and restaurants are encouraged to maintain a minimum of 6′ between parties and to limit capacity to no more than 50%. The suggestion is also given to continue limiting gatherings in a room or confined space to less than ten people. Though this guidance is not a legal order, it would be prudent for serious consideration to be given to the pertinent recommendations. There have been confirmed COVID-19 cases in Whitewater, and a significant outbreak has been identified at the Birds Eye plant in Darien.
JEFFERSON COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUES GUIDANCE TO PREPARE FOR A SAFE REOPENING
Yesterday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the Safer at Home Emergency Order #28.
The Court determined that the order is subject to administrative rule-making, and because it
was not established in rule, but rather it was established via order, the Supreme Court found
EO #28 “unenforceable.” This ruling takes effect immediately.
Jefferson County Health Department places great importance on the health and safety of the
public. We have already seen essential businesses take extraordinary steps to continue to
provide service while keeping their employees and members of the public safe. This needs to
In light of the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling, many businesses that have been closed will
choose to open their doors soon, and many others will choose to expand their operations.
Businesses need to do so responsibly. All Jefferson County businesses should continue to follow
CDC guidelines for social distancing, cleaning, and disinfecting whenever possible. They should
also consider the guidelines provided by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation at
https://wedc.org/reopen-guidelines and consult with their respective trade or business organizations to identify
industry best practices to safely welcome back employees and customers.
Businesses may also want to check with their legal counsel to see how to open safely during a
pandemic while also considering legal implications of cases that may be related to their
business operations. (Emphasis added by the Banner.)
ThriveED, Jefferson and Dodge County Economic Development Consortium, will be holding two
peer to peer virtual meetings to assist businesses on how to open safely. They will continue to
assist businesses by providing information on state and federal funding and programing
available to help them recover from the effects of COVID-19. They have many COVID-19
resources on their website: https://www.thriveed.org/. Jefferson County Health Department
will continue to collaborate with ThriveED and the business community to allow for the safest
operations of businesses while the virus is still a threat to the health of our residents.
Jefferson County will continue to operate safely. For information about Jefferson County
operations residents can get more information at https://www.jeffersoncountywi.gov/Health/COVID19/Jefferson%20County%20Services%20COVID%20Status.pdf.
The Health Department will continue the strong partnership with the Department of Health
Services and Fort HealthCare in the response to this pandemic and monitor trends, testing
capabilities, and needs should there be a surge in cases and need for patient care. The need for
personal protective equipment for all emergency responders and medical providers has been
an issue during this pandemic and will continue to be monitored and resources provided as
Jefferson County Health Department will continue to have an active and aggressive response to
the COVID-19 pandemic. The Health Department, along with Emergency Management,
emergency responders and other municipal departments continue to work together to keep
residents as safe as possible while assisting our community to recover and continue to remain
safe from the effects of COVID-19.
In order to protect the health of our community, the Health Department will continue with the
• Continue to provide active surveillance in the community and look for trends including
location of cases and demographics including occupations of those affected
• Tracking active cases of COVID-19 in a timely manner
• Increasing the number of contact tracers to mitigate disease spread
• Working closely with local hospitals, neighboring counties and the state to ensure
continued adequate testing capacity
• Continue to be a resource to the community
Even though the Court ruled in this way, Jefferson County Health Department strongly
encourages all Jefferson County residents to voluntarily comply with the key components of the
Safer at Home Order. Guidance on large gatherings will be coming out soon. For now it is still
recommended to continue to limit numbers of people gathering to limit spread of the virus.
• Maintain at least 6 feet between yourself and others;
• Do not congregate in groups larger than 10 people without physical distancing between
• Wash your hands frequently;
• Disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
• If you are considered high risk due to age or health condition continue to remain safer
at home and take precautions – only going out for essential reasons and working from
home as much as possible.
There are many things that businesses and organizations should be doing to prepare for a safe
• Develop flexible sick leave policies that encourage staying home when ill
• Set aggressive infection control policies (hand washing, surface cleaning, barriers to
reduce contact between customers and staff)
• Source needed disinfectants, soap, sanitizer, and PPE if used
• Ensure all operations support 6 feet physical distancing
• Create a system to monitor any symptoms your employees may have
• Cross train and prepare for absenteeism
• Implement a system to limit and direct traffic in your business
• Communicate your plan to employees and customers
Covid-19 has not gone away and will not in foreseeable future. The Health Department will
continue monitoring for increased cases and may need to target certain areas for restrictions
based on those case increases.
A strong economy is vital to public health and safety. We can’t have healthy residents and a
healthy community without people working and our businesses providing the goods and
services needed. We simply want everyone to continue to be safe.