WEM activates rare Level 1 response; Evers to ban large public gatherings

Metro Wire Staff

Gov. Tony Evers announced Monday he will order a ban on mass gatherings of 50 or more people until further notice, citing concerns over the spread of COVID-19.

Evers said he’ll make the announcement during a planned 1:30 p.m. press briefing on March 16.

“Critical infrastructure and services such as grocery stores, food pantries, childcare centers, pharmacies, and hospitals will be exempt from this order,” Evers said on his Facebook page.

On Monday, the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC) in Madison also announced it has moved to a Level 1 response.

It’s the first time the SEOC has ever elevated to Level 1 in response to a health-related incident, according to a press statement from the Wisconsin Emergency Management.

A Level 1 response means that WEM will coordinate all state agencies together in a central location.

At press, Wisconsin has 34 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, with the latest confirmed in Wood Co. over the weekend. Outbreaks have the highest numbers in New York, California, and Washington State.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking the public to avoid large gatherings for the next eight weeks, citing the risk of the coronavirus.