On May 13, 2020, the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided that the Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary Designee Andrea Palm did not have statutory authority to extend the “Safer At Home” order to May 26, therefore ending restrictions statewide.

The Supreme Court’s decision is good news for our small, Main Street businesses that are fighting for survival. I’m confident that those small business will be smart as they open their doors. They know their customers better than someone in Madison.

I have heard directly from many businesses that have strong plans in place to clean, sanitize and respect the health and wellbeing of their customers. I am recommending that concerned owners and community leaders review the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC’s) recommendations and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to reopen their unique businesses, organizations and public offices with measures to protect the people of our communities.

Citizens need to make good choices as well. People with compromised immune systems or health concerns need to take responsibility for their own health. If you are uncomfortable going to a store or a restaurant – don’t go. If you are uncomfortable going to church – don’t go.

Our communities and businesses have developed new mechanisms to serve their customers and citizens who choose to stay at home. Wisconsinites have innovated and adapted during the pandemic and these adaptations will likely remain to serve those who choose to stay home.

Our hospitals are also open and ready! All of the hospitals and health care providers in the 17th Senate District are open and ready to see patients. If you have a healthcare concern or need, please contact your local healthcare provider to schedule an appointment today or visit Urgent Care or the Emergency Room depending on your needs.

Do not delay medical care if you need it. I recently talked with all of the hospital leaders in the 17th Senate District and they want you to know that they have plenty of resources and staff to serve you. In fact, as of this writing, only one of the nine hospitals in the 17th Senate District has any COVID-19 patients in an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). There are only two COVID-19 patients in two hospitals – the Monroe Clinic and Grant Regional Health Center in Lancaster.

Our hospitals and clinics are safe. They have ample capacity to serve your needs. I have been assured that they can handle a surge in COVID-19 cases if one occurs. They are ready!

As of publication, there were only 10 inpatients with pending COVID-19 tests in the entire 17th Senate District. Out of the 170,000 people I represent, approximately 266 people have tested positive for COVID-19. This is .002% of the 17th Senate Disttrict. When we break it down further, a very, very small percentage of the people in our communities have had COVID-19.

Hospital Capacity is the most important metric we must watch as Wisconsin re-opens. As I mentioned in a previous column, we cannot eradicate COVID-19. Some of us have likely been exposed to the virus and others of us will likely be exposed in the future. Many of us may suffer a slight cold, while others may not experience any symptoms at all if we are exposed.

But if we look back to the beginning of this crisis, we were concerned about the ability of our healthcare system to manage an influx of patients with the virus. Since March, no hospital in Wisconsin has been overrun with cases. We continue to have significant abilities to serve people. We do not have, and have not had, a capacity issue.

Wisconsin is re-opening. This is good news for our communities. But, again, if you are concerned about your own health, you have every right to stay home. I encourage every citizen to practice preventative personal hygiene and make good decisions based on your own, personal situation, concerns and preferences.

Howard Marklein represents the 17th District in the Wisconsin Senate.

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