COVID-19 Update

Executive & Emergency Orders

Executive Order #72 – Declaring a public health emergency.
The order directs the state Department of Health Services to lead the response, including by suspending provisions of administrative rules that would hinder response actions or increase the health threat. The order directs all state agencies to assist as appropriate. Additionally, the order declares a period of economic disruption and directs the Department of Trade, Agriculture & Consumer Protection to enforce prohibitions against price gouging.
Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo on public health emergencies and funding options

Emergency Order – Prohibiting mass gatherings of 50 people or more.
Effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, March 17, 2020, mass gatherings of 50 people or more are prohibited. Exemptions include:

  • Airports
  • Polling places
  • Child care
  • Hotels and motels
  • Food pantries and shelters
  • Residential buildings
  • Shopping malls and other retail establishments where people are generally not within arm’s length of each other for more than 10 minutes
  • Health care facilities
  • Libraries
  • Restaurants and bars operating at 50 percent capacity or less than 50 people, with social distancing measures. 
  • Office spaces
  • Manufacturing, processing, distribution, and production facilities
  • Public transportation
  • Utility facilities
  • Job centers
  • Wisconsin Legislature and Wisconsin Court System

Emergency Order #5 – Prohibiting mass gatherings of 10 people or more. (Supersedes previous emergency order)
Effective 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, 2020. The order specifies that all bars and restaurants close, except for take out or delivery.  The order also directs the closure of all public and private schools and extracurricular activities. Exemptions include:

  • Airports
  • Mass transportation
  • Polling places
  • Childcare
  • Hotels and motels
  • Government
  • Food pantries and shelters
  • Residential buildings
  • Retail establishments where people are generally not within arm’s length of each other for more than 10 minutes (Shopping malls are to close.)
  • Health care facilities
  • Office spaces (social distancing and teleworking should be implemented as much as practicable)
  • Manufacturing, processing, distribution and production facilities
  • Utility facilities
  • Job centers

Emergency Order #6 – Restricting the size of child care settings.
Effective 8 a.m. Thursday, March 19, 2020, child care settings may not operate with more than 10 staff and 50 children present. The order directs parents to practice social distancing to the extent possible during pick up and drop off. The order also asks providers to prioritize families of health care and essential service providers. (Department of Children & Families guidance.)

Emergency Order #7 – Waiving work search requirements for unemployment insurance.
Effective March 12, 2020, unemployment insurance claimants are no longer required to complete the ordinarily required four work search actions per week to be eligible for benefits. The order also ensures that claimants who are otherwise eligible but out of work due to COVID-19 are eligible for benefits.  

Wisconsin Legislature

  • March 24 Senate floor period postponed. Senate to meet in extraordinary session at a later date to finish final business of 2019-20 session.
  • Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) are in talks with Gov. Evers on the potential for state legislation to address COVID-19.
  • Speaker Vos has indicated that the Joint Committee on Finance may have the requisite authority to administer or pass along federal dollars.
  • Possibility for Legislature to meet virtually. Senate President Roger Roth letter.
  • Legislation in other states – National Conference of State Legislatures and Kaiser Family Foundation

Health Care & Insurance Actions

  • Many Wisconsin insurers are waiving members’ coronavirus testing costs, including Alliance of Health Insurers members Anthem and United HealthCare.
  • The state Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) has issued a bulletin requesting health plans to remove barriers to testing and treatment of COVID-19. OCI requested insurers:
    • Review their preparedness for issuing information and timely access to services to insureds, including making information available on their websites.
    • Waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 tests and related visits.
    • Ensure telehealth programs are robust and able to meet increased demand.
    • Ensure adequacy of provider networks to handle increased demand.
    • Expedite prior authorization.
    • Cover immunization for COVID-19 in the event it becomes available.
    • Provide flexibility on prescription drug supply and early refill limitations.
  • OCI has issued corporate governance guidance to insurers on annual meeting requirements and is offering flexibility on regulatory filing deadlines. March 15 bulletin.
  • OCI is making temporary changes to requirements for online continuing education courses.
  • Another bulletin from OCI:
    • Encourages insurers to offer flexibility to insureds who are incurring economic hardship. Accommodations will not be viewed as violating insurance laws.
    • States that no regulatory filings will be deemed automatically approved after 30 days.
    • Encourages electronic filings.
  • Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) guidance on domestic and international travel.
  • ForwardHealth provider news and resources on COVID-19.

More State & Federal Resources