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District 13

Alder Tag Evers

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Alder Tag Evers

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Home Address:

2329 Keyes Av

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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Alder Evers’ Blog

COVID-19 Update: Public Health Allows Businesses to Reopen

May 25, 2020 11:39 AM

Hi Everyone.

Following two months of significant restrictions on non-essential activities, Public Health Madison & Dane County issued Emergency Order #3 on Friday, loosening most of those restrictions effective tomorrow, Tuesday, May 26. This new order replaces the restrictions that have been in place and allows gatherings of up to 50 people inside of commercial buildings (and outdoors as well). Gatherings of 10 people are permitted inside private buildings. All businesses and churches are allowed to resume operations with limits of 25% of their permitted occupancy.

While this updated order will certainly come as a welcome relief to some, I am surprised at the speed and magnitude of the changes and remain concerned about the potential for a rapid increase locally in COVID-19 infections.

Currently, reported COVID cases and hospitalizations in Dane County are on the rise, which should in my mind pause any move to reopen.

The way to safely reopen is to stick to the science. Mass gatherings of 50 people from different households congregating indoors for extended periods of time does not appear to be a low risk activity given the available science and I'm concerned that such an abrupt reopening may create the conditions for a rapid spread of COVID-19 infections. Allowing customers to socialize at bars and restaurants for extended periods of time (even at reduced capacity and with expectations of physical distancing) increases the risk of spread to each other as well as to those required to work in those businesses. Perhaps most surprisingly, the Forward Dane plan that accompanied the new order does not include any criteria for reinstating protections if conditions worsen. 

Similar concerns were raised by a local scientist with two decades background in the field of Virology, in an email sent to local elected officials this morning. Dr. Greg Gelembiuk cited significant research that indicates that we are not prepared for such a broad reopening of our economy given our current level of testing, contact tracing, and the prevalence of new COVID-19 positive cases. As he points out in his email, 'The Imperial College London report issued yesterday estimates that Wisconsin currently has the tenth highest Rt (effective reproduction number – a measure of epidemic expansion) in the U.S., and that the epidemic is not under control here.'

I urge everyone to think carefully before heading out to engage in non-essential activities, particularly those that involve spending time indoors for extended periods of time around groups of people. While the new order from Public Health permits these activities, continuing to limit contact with those outside of your household is still the best way to keep you, your family, and the rest of our community safe.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes endurance to run a marathon. Sprinting ahead prematurely will not carry us through to the end of the race.

It's troubling to ponder the fact that had we as a nation sheltered in place one week earlier 36,000 lives would have been saved.

If we push ahead apart from scientific metrics, the risk is that more people will die unnecessarily.

I fully understand the pressure to reopen. Like many of you, I've been personally impacted by the shutdown. My livelihood is at risk.  But I don't believe the public interest is served in pushing ahead unless the science tells us it's safe.

As the holiday weekend wraps up, let's keep our focus on getting through this together, looking out for the most vulnerable in our midst.

You can find a link to PHMDC's Emergency Order #3 here, a link to the Forward Dane plan here, and a copy of Dr. Gelembiuk's email here.

Be safe. Be well. Be kind.

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Tags: COVID-19

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