SCOWIS won't weigh reinstating Wisconsin capacity limits

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) on Wednesday reported a record rise in COVID-19 cases. The state continues to be in the national spotlight for its response to the pandemic, ranking third in the country for most cases in the past week.

Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin voted not to consider whether to reinstate the governor's order that limited indoor capacity and imposed gathering restrictions.

The order, which Gov. Tony Evers issued in October, is not currently in effect. Gov. Evers noted Wednesday that the back-and-forth is only hurting the state's ability to get the virus under control.

“We can't do nothing as a state,” Evers said. “If we let it run rampant for months, we will lose lives.”

Gov. Tony Evers

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul had asked the state's highest court to consider reinstating the order, which caps indoor public gatherings at 25% occupancy or 10 people if an occupancy restriction is not in place.

The order was blocked by the 3rd District Court of Appeals in October after Pro-Life Wisconsin and a bar in Amery appealed a circuit court judge's decision to uphold the capacity limit.

The decision stemmed from a lawsuit filed against the state by the Tavern League of Wisconsin. The governor's chief legal counsel, Ryan Nilsestuen, said he plans to appeal Wednesday's outcome.

"We think it’s important in the middle of a pandemic that this be quickly resolved," Nilsestuen said. "The longer we’re fighting about it in court, the less time we have to implement measures that we know will save lives."

Wisconsin Supreme Court

The legal back-and-forth comes as ICU bed capacity in Wisconsin surpasses 90% for the first time. With no safety net, like the alternate care facility at Wisconsin State Fair Park, for critically-ill patients, DHS officials say the state has reached crisis level.

"In every region in Wisconsin, hospitals are reporting staffing strain, as well as hospitals reporting that they are at peak census for accepting patients for their hospital beds and their ICU beds," Andrea Palm, DHS secretary-designee, said.

DHS officials continue to stress the importance of limiting interactions with only those who live in your household.

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