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Kenosha Co. health officials warn 'Safer at Home order went away, but the virus did not'

Updated: 11:07 p.m. on May 14, 2020

KENOSHA COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- In a release Thursday night, Kenosha County officials announced the immediate withdrawal of its continuation of the state's Safer-at-Home order.

The release said in part, "This move allows businesses in Kenosha County to reopen without risk of penalty or prosecution, although Freiheit and other local officials strongly urge people to continue observing the public health guidelines outlined in Safer-at-Home."

Kenosha County and several other localities across the state issued local orders Wednesday night continuing Safer-at-Home until its May 26 sunset, after the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the state order late that afternoon.

Kenosha County Corporation Counsel Joseph Cardamone said guidance received from the Wisconsin Counties Association’s legal arm late Thursday suggested that the provision struck down by the State Supreme Court also applied to local health officers.

“The Supreme Court’s order caused a great deal of confusion and uncertainty last night that left us and others across the state struggling to determine how to abide by the ruling while continuing to protect the public’s safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” Cardamone said. “Tonight, with varying guidance from the Wisconsin Counties Association and more time to review best practices moving forward, together we’ve determined that we will withdraw our order and instead view Safer-at Home as a series of best practices, rather than requirements.”

Earlier Thursday, local government and business leaders convened to begin the review of the Kenosha County Kickstart plan — a strategic, phased-in approach to restart the local economy consistent with the gating criteria in the state’s Badger Bounce Back plan. That process will continue, with an eye toward providing businesses and organizations with best practices to allow them to operate in the best interests of public health and safety.

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Posted: 5:25 p.m. on May 14, 2020

KENOSHA COUNTY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Kenosha County is continuing to follow the stay at home order.

"The 'Safer at Home' order went away, but the virus did not," Dr. Jennifer Freiheit, Kenosha County Health Officer, said. "It's still here."

The Stay at Home Order was extended in Kenosha County through May 26. 

"We are strongly encouraging businesses not to open until we can get this Kenosha County Kickstart Plan out to them so that they know how to open safely," Freiheit said.

The Kenosha County Kickstart Plan will lay out the best practices for businesses to reopen in ways that protects employees and customers and include details on sanitization, sic leave, etc.

A draft will be available to the public on Friday, May 15. 

The City of Racine is also continuing the stay at home order through May 26.

"We’ve been listed as one of those fastest growing coronavirus communities per capita in the country," City of Racine Mayor Cory Mason said. "This is a serious problem." 

Tickets can be issued in Racine for violations.

"If people are in violation of that order, then then they are in violation of the law," Racine Police Chief Art Howell said. 

Racine County and Walworth County are not extending the stay at home order.

Thursday, the Racine County Health Department issued new recommendations on limiting customers and staff in one location, limiting mass gatherings, and canceling or postponing all fairs and festivals. 

Walworth County has also issued guidance for businesses.

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