Governor urges social distancing after Wisconsin court blocks stay-at-home order

By MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(MADISON, Wis.) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers urged residents to continue to practice social distancing a day after the state Supreme Court blocked his stay-at-home order.

“We cannot let this ruling undo all the work we have done and all the sacrifices Wisconsinites have made over these past few months,” Evers said during Thursday’s Democratic Radio Address. “We need everyone to continue doing their part to keep our families, our neighbors, our healthcare providers, as well as our communities, safe by continuing to stay safer at home, practice social distancing and limit travel.”

The Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled against the Democratic governor’s stay-at-home order extension on Wednesday, saying the administration exceeded its authority.

Last month, Evers directed Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to extend the state’s “Safer at Home” order, keeping nonessential businesses closed until May 26.

In the 4-3 decision, the conservative-controlled high court said Palm overstepped her authority in “confining all people to their homes, forbidding travel and closing businesses.”

Evers said he was “disappointed” with the Supreme Court’s decision and that Wisconsin was “in a pretty good place in our battle against COVID-19.”

The state had reached almost all of its “gating criteria” and small businesses had opened, Evers said, adding that residents should continue “doing what we can and what we have to do to protect the health and safety of the people of our state.”

“Just because the Supreme Court says it’s OK to open, doesn’t mean the science does,” he continued. “Folks, deadly viruses don’t go away on their own, and they don’t go away because the Supreme Court says so.”

Wisconsin had 10,902 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 421 deaths, according to the latest figures from the state’s health department. On Wednesday, the day of the ruling, there were 291 new cases, up from 193 the day before.

Immediately following the court’s decision, bars across the state were packed.

The court’s decision lets schools continue to remain closed. Local counties can also decide whether to issue their own restrictions.

Following the decision, several counties in Wisconsin issued their own stay-at-home orders to keep the governor’s guidelines in place through May 26, including Green, Rock and Dane, which includes Madison. Brown County has kept the order active through May 20. The city of Milwaukee also said the stay-at-home order is still in effect.

There have been attempts to overturn stay-at-home orders in several states, but Wisconsin marks the first time a state’s high court has done so during the pandemic.

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