COVID on campus

Potential legal action against the governor over COVID-19 actions

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The news column “COVID on campus” posts relevant COVID-19 news every week for UWEC students.

In Wisconsin, the extended mask mandate is set to end on Saturday, Nov. 21 by Gov. Tony Evers. On Monday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court began hearing whether his mandates and actions during the ongoing pandemic were unconstitutional overreaches of power.

According to WISN, the case was brought to the court by Jere Fabrick, who is “a major Republican donor in Wisconsin who has given more than $350,000 to Republican or conservative candidates in Wisconsin between 1994 and the middle of 2020, according to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.”

Evers has issued three public health emergencies since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak and other relevant orders. Health orders are only allowed to last 60 days according to state law, but can be extended if the Legislature grants it.

The current argument against Evers’ actions is that the circumstances of Evers’ first health emergency, which was the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, have not changed. Therefore, his actions were illegal. 

The argument in favor of Evers’ actions says his new health orders are allowed because the threat from the pandemic has changed.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Wisconsin is currently the seventh highest state in COVID-19 cases. Additionally, Wisconsin broke the daily record of COVID-19 cases in an exponential growth to over 300,000 cases in just 18 days since reaching 200,000 cases. 

Any ruling by the Wisconsin Supreme Court will likely not be decided for several weeks.

As of 8 a.m. on Nov. 17, there are 25 new positive tests of COVID-19 for on-campus students out of 534 tests given, creating a positivity rate of 4.7%.

According to the UWEC COVID-19 dashboard, the cumulative total of positive tests for on-campus students now rests at 580 cases of COVID-19 out of the 16,649 antigen tests given.  This is an increase of 55 cases from last week. 

As of 3 p.m. on Nov. 16, the information from the Eau Claire City-County Health Department said there were 133 new positive student-connected cases of COVID-19 and one new staff-connected case. 

Cumulatively, there have been 760 student-connected cases of COVID-19 and 16 staff-connected cases. This is 113 more student-connected cases and one more staff-connected case than last week.

On the Rice Lake campus, there are now 14 positive cases of COVID-19, a decrease of one case from last week. The Marshfield campus remains at no cases to date.

Around the rest of Eau Claire, there have been 6,149 positive cases of COVID-19 and 34,583 negative tests, according to the Eau Claire County COVID-19 Information Hub.

The number of deaths in Eau Claire county now rests at 42 deaths due to COVID-19. The death count increased by seven deaths since last week.

Three establishments are listed on the website for potential COVID-19 exposures. Rolly’s Coach Club may have had an exposure from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 26 and the Bull Pen Bar may have had an exposure from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Oct. 28.

Additionally, Bush’s Idlewild bar experienced a potential exposure from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 2.

Spierings can be reached at [email protected].