Multiple counties issue state of emergency amid coronavirus pandemic

Posted at 4:04 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 17:52:08-04

Several counties in southeast Wisconsin have issued a state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. They include Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha, and Jefferson Counties.


Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele issued a proclamation Friday declaring a local public health emergency due to COVID-19.

"Our top priority is to keep Milwaukee County residents and visitors safe, and we will use every tool and resource at our disposal to ensure we continue our efforts to be the healthiest county in Wisconsin," said Abele. "We are issuing Administrative Orders to provide our employees with the tools they need to best serve our residents and protect our community. From our airport to our zoo, everyone at Milwaukee County is putting their full weight behind ensuring we are prepared for COVID-19."

Two Administrative Orders will be implemented for Milwaukee County employees around paid leave and travel "to provide employees with a financial safety net and to prioritize the health and safety of residents served by Milwaukee County."

Read the full emergency declaration below:

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Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow issued a proclamation Friday declaring the state of emergency. will "facilitate and expedite the use of resources to protect persons from the impact of the spread of COVID-19 while ensuring continuity of critical operations within Waukesha County."

Read the full emergency declaration below:


Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave announced the emergency declaration Thursday to help mitigate the impacts of coronavirus.

"Racine County is closely monitoring the coronavirus outbreak and is in frequent communication with our local health departments. Safety is our top priority and we are taking all steps possible to protect the public and our employees," County Executive Delagrave said. "We are encouraging Racine County residents to exercise appropriate precautions and take steps to ensure the safety of themselves and their families."

The county is also taking the following steps:

  • Pre-ordering an extra supply of shelf-stable food for home-bound seniors served in the county's Senior Nutrition (Meals on Wheels) program, as well as juvenile detention and Racine County Jail
  • Working with health departments on social distancing measures, which could include eliminating most group meetings and postponing them, shifting them to individual sessions, or arranging virtual meetings
  • Encouraging people doing business at county buildings to be prepared to make alternative arrangements to meeting in person
  • People with court affairs are encouraged to contact the Clerk of Courts to discuss alternative arrangements

Read the full emergency declaration below:


Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser announced a state of emergency in Kenosha County on Friday to guard against the spread of COVID-19.

"Our foremost priority is to protect the health and safety of Kenosha County's residents and employees from coronavirus," Kreuser said. "These declarations on the county and state levels are aimed at positioning us to receive resources to minimize the effects of what the World Health Organization has officially declared a pandemic."

The Kenosha County Division of Health is recommending guidelines for individuals, businesses, and organizations to follow, as preventive measures. They are:

  • All assisted living and long-term care facilities are to limit visitors beginning at 3 p.m. Friday, until further notice. This means visitors should not be allowed to come into these facilities, except for in certain circumstances, such as end-of-life situations. Employees and vendors will be screened daily.
  • Visitors will be restricted from the Kenosha County Jail and Detention Center.
  • Organizers of public gatherings of 50 or more people are encouraged to cancel these events, to reduce opportunities for person-to-person virus transmission.
  • People at higher risk are encouraged to stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible. Higher-risk individuals include:
  1. People 60 and older.
  2. People with underlying health conditions, including heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes.
  3. People with weakened immune systems.
  • Social distancing is encouraged. This means attempting to remain six feet away from other people and avoiding handshaking and other unnecessary contact.
  • Nonessential travel for all individuals is discouraged. Those planning trips should weigh the benefits of going versus not going.
  • People are encouraged to work remotely, if possible. Kenosha County is evaluating what services can be provided by county employees working from home, and businesses are encouraged to do the same.

"This is not media hype. This is not government overreacting," Freiheit said, of the declaration of emergency and its accompanying guidelines. "This is your Kenosha County government being proactive, being preventative, on behalf of the health and safety of our residents."

Read the full emergency declaration below:


Jefferson County has declared a State of Emergency for the COVID-19 pandemic to facilitate and expedite the use of resources to protect persons from the impacts of the spread of COVID-19 while maintaining continuity of operations for the Jefferson County.

The county has taken the following steps:

  • Working with the public, local hospitals, medical providers, businesses, long term care facilities, media and state and federal partners to educate them on how to prevent, plan for and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Working with the public on implementing social distancing measures, which could include eliminating most group meetings and postponing them, shifting them to individual sessions, or arranging virtual meetings.
  • Educating the community on signs and symptoms of COVID-19 and how to proceed if they need medical care.
  • Providing credible information from the Department of Health Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through social media.
  • Monitoring all public meetings over the course of the next few weeks in attempt to hold only meetings that are needed for specific action items related to county operations.
  • Halting certain non-essential services starting Monday. These non-essential services include passports, DMV, DNR licenses and notary services to try and limit public face to face contact.
  • Restricting public access to the jail.
  • The Clerk’s Office is working with local communities to ensure proper procedures are in place to assist with and promote absentee ballots for the April 7th election.
  • The Economic Development Department is prepared to assist businesses with new programs as they emerge to prepare for recovery of businesses in our communities.

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