- Wisconsin in recent weeks has become a huge coronavirus hotspot.
- Aside from a massive spike in new coronavirus cases, coronavirus-related deaths in the state are on the rise as well.
- Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers recently expanded a mandatory mask mandate for an additional eight weeks. Republicans in the state called the extension a power grab and took to the courts to get it overturned.
With the coronavirus currently spreading rapidly across 38 states, no state has seen a more rapid increase in new coronavirus infections than Wisconsin. The current stats on coronavirus infections in the cheese state are sobering, to say the least. Over the past two weeks alone, the average number of new coronavirus cases per day has jumped by 25%. Even more worrisome is that the death rate has increased by 77% during the same time frame.
Just yesterday, Wisconsin reported more than 3300 new coronavirus cases, a figure that is more than double what the state was reporting just one month ago. In fact, from March through early September, Wisconsin at its peak was only seeing around 700 new cases per day. All told, Wisconsin to date has seen 167,000 coronavirus cases and more than 1,500 coronavirus-related deaths. And with the influx of new coronavirus cases straining the ability of hospitals to treat patients, Wisconsin last week built a 530-bed field hospital just outside of Milwaukee.
Despite all that, Republicans in Wisconsin have been trying to get the courts to overturn Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers’ mask mandate. Recall that the mandate went into effect in July and was extended on September 22 for two more months in response to the growing number of coronavirus cases.
According to the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), an organization that sued to overturn the mandate, Evers’ mandate extension “represents a gross abuse of power”.
WILL further explained:
To interpret the law otherwise would allow one-person rule by the Governor for what could be a virtually unlimited amount of time whenever the vague statutory definition of a “public health emergency” or “disaster” can be said to be present. The result would be the total breakdown of our constitutional order.
Other groups and Republican lawmakers were quick to call Evers’ mandate illegal, unconstitutional, and a power grab. Somewhat bizarrely, Wisconsin representative Scott Allen said in a press release that “even if the mask mandate did work, the government has no business ordering the general public to wear them.”
So Allen’s argument, which again is bizarre, is that even if the mask mandate works to the extent that it can save lives, it’s not the government’s job to demand it.
There are a handful of lawsuits protesting the mask mandate and one such lawsuit was recently dismissed by Judge R. Michael Waterman.
In his ruling, Judge R. Michael Waterman said the statute does not prohibit Evers from declaring successive states of emergency and that it allows for a declaration if the governor determines a public health emergency exists.
Waterman also said in his ruling that if the legislature “is unconvinced that a state of emergency does exist” then it has the power to terminate it. He wrote that the legislature has declined to end the state of emergency.
Waterman’s full decision can be viewed here.
“Today’s ruling is a victory in our fight against COVID-19 and our efforts to keep the people of Wisconsin safe and healthy during this unprecedented crisis,” Governor Evers said in a statement after the ruling. “As the number of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin reached 150,000 yesterday, we will continue doing everything we can to prevent the spread of this virus. We ask Wisconsinites to please stay home as much as possible, limit travel and going to public gatherings, and wear a mask whenever out and about.”