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Wisconsin governor says 'many more people' could get sick after court blocks lockdown

Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, criticized the state Supreme Court ruling and urged social distancing.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers at a news conference in Madison on Feb. 6, 2020.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers at a news conference in Madison on Feb. 6, 2020.Steve Apps / Wisconsin State Journal via AP file

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday that the state Supreme Court's decision to strike down his administration's stay-at-home order during the coronavirus pandemic could lead to "many more people" becoming sick and overwhelming hospitals.

"But not if we stay the course and stay home," Evers, a Democrat, said at a news conference, adding, "If you don't feel safe enough, then go home."

He urged people not to allow the court ruling to undo the "hard work" Wisconsin has put in to slowing the spread of the virus, and he urged those who go out to wear masks and practice social distancing.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court blocked the statewide lockdown order Wednesday as "unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable." In a 4-3 ruling, the court called Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm's directive, known as Emergency Order 28, a "vast seizure of power."

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The order directed all Wisconsinites to stay at their places of residence subject only to exceptions allowed by the health secretary, the ruling said of the mandate, which had been set to run until May 26.

The judges said they were not challenging Evers' emergency powers, even though the decision undercuts his administration and will force him to compromise with the Republican-led Legislature, which brought the suit against the Health Services Department.

Rebecca Dallet, one of the dissenting justices, said her conservative colleagues in the majority were the ones exceeding their authority.

"This decision will undoubtedly go down as one of the most blatant examples of judicial activism in this court's history," she said. "And it will be Wisconsinites who pay the price."