Gov. Evers: Capitol will stay closed, state workers to wear masks

MADISON — The Wisconsin Capitol building will not reopen next week, as had been planned, and state employees will have to wear masks whenever they're working indoors to help slow the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Tony Evers' administration announced Wednesday.

The Capitol building has been closed to the public since Evers issued a stay-at-home order in March. The state Supreme Court struck down that order in May and Evers' administration had planned to reopen the building Monday. But infection rates have been climbing in Wisconsin over the last two weeks and the administration announced that the Capitol will remain closed indefinitely.

The administration also announced that starting Monday, all state employees must wear masks whenever they're inside a state facility, including offices, parking garages, elevators and bathrooms, or waiting in line to enter a state facility. They also must wear one whenever they're inside any enclosed building on state business.

Dane County officials on Tuesday ordered all residents to wear masks when indoors starting Monday.

Wisconsin's tally of confirmed coronavirus cases rose by 598 on Wednesday, to 33,154 since the pandemic started. The state's COVID-19 death toll rose by two, to 807. Nearly 80% of those who contracted the disease have recovered, leaving 6,037 active cases in the state. Wisconsin's population is about 5.8 million.

Meanwhile Wednesday, the president of Wisconsin’s chamber of commerce repeated his call for the state Department of Health Services not to publish the names of businesses traced to two or more confirmed cases of COVID-19.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce President Kurt Bauer last week asked the DHS to back off its plans to make the names public. A department spokeswoman said Tuesday that there were no plans to publish them, but agency Secretary Andrea Palm appeared to hedge during a news conference when she said there were no plans to do that “this week.”

Bauer said releasing the names could be “potentially defamatory.”

State health department spokeswoman Elizabeth Goodsitt said Wednesday there are “no immediate plans to list businesses with COVID-19 positives on our website.”