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Watch now: Council discusses new 'Safer Racine' restrictions

Watch now: Council discusses new 'Safer Racine' restrictions

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RACINE — Three days after a Racine County Circuit Court judge halted enforcement of the city's COVID-19 business restrictions, the City of Racine has drafted a new ordinance that essentially duplicates the restrictions in ordinance form. 

On Sunday night, the city posted the agenda for a special City Council meeting. One of the agenda items is an ordinance adopting the "Safer Racine COVID-19 Pandemic Response Standards," an almost-line-by-line copy of the Forward Racine guidelines published on May 21 with updates from recent data. 

Fast turnaround

According to the ordinance, which was posted on Sunday at 5:54 p.m. for a 6 p.m. Monday meeting, if it passes it would grant that:

(a) The Safer Racine COVID-19 Pandemic Response Standards are adopted and the standards therein apply to business and public activities within the City of Racine. The Safer Racine COVID-19 Pandemic Response Standards shall be published on the City of Racine website and are incorporated into this section as if fully set forth herein.

(b) The City Council grants the Public Health Administrator authority to modify the Safer Racine COVID-19 Pandemic Response Standards as necessary to respond to changing COVID-19-related public health conditions. The Public Health Administrator must base any modifications on then-current guidance from the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease and Prevention, and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. The Public Health Administrator shall report any such modifications to the Common Council, in writing, within five days of the effective date of such modifications.

(c) No later than August 5, 2020, the Public Health Administrator shall provide a full report to the Common Council regarding the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in the City of Racine. The Common Council shall take action to extend, modify, or terminate the application of the Safer Racine COVID-19 Pandemic Response Standards to the City of Racine upon receipt of the Public Health Administrator’s report hereunder.

On Friday, Racine County Circuit Court Judge Jon Fredrickson issued a temporary injunction order halting the city's COVID-19 restrictions while a civil suit against the city and Public Health Administrator Dottie-Kay Bowersox by David Yandel, the owner of Harbor Park CrossFit, 3801 Blue River Ave., works its way through the court system.

The ordinance up for discussion Monday does not specifically mention Fredrickson's decision, but appears to be in response to the judge's orders. As of Monday afternoon it was unclear how those orders would be affected should the City Council decide to pass the ordinance. 

Green light?

The Safer Racine document was uploaded onto the city's Legistar page for the meeting around 1:30 p.m. on Monday. According the chart on pages 8 and 9 of the document, the Racine Health Department's jurisdiction has met the criteria for easing restrictions after June 30, including:

  • Less than 10% of cases testing positive;
  • A declining 5-day average for cases over 14 days;
  • Area hospitals have capacity to treat all non-crisis COVID-19 patients;
  • The number of health care workers testing positive has remained stable or declined over 14 days;
  • Over 85% of new cases are able to be contacted by the health department for contact tracing within 48 hours;
  • Long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes and assisted living centers, have implemented protective measures and policies;
  • The number of probable cases has remained stable; and
  • The supply chain is able to adequately provide personal protective equipment to local jurisdictions and health systems.

If the jurisdiction continues to meet those criteria by June 30, the health department plans to release the updated, looser restrictions for businesses and gatherings on that date. 

While those particular criteria have been met, earlier in the document the health department lays out areas where there are still some concerns and room to grow. 

For example, while there is enough PPE for emergency personnel and health care centers, there is still a lack of adequate supplies for businesses and the general public. Also, while the city has seen the required decline in confirmed COVID-19 cases, there have been fluctuations in the percentage of positive cases. 

"The number of positive tests, as a proportion of total tests performed, ranges from 2-41%," the document reads. "The percentage of positive tests, while on a general downward trajectory, has continued to rise and fall throughout June 2020. This is not always attributed to an increase in testing. The 5-day rolling average, calculated since mid-May 2020, ranged from 2 - 32%."

The City Council is scheduled to meet virtually at 6 p.m. tonight. It is to be livestreamed on the city's Facebook page.

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Reporter

Christina Lieffring covers the City of Racine and the City of Burlington and is a not-bad photographer. In her spare time she tries to keep her plants and guinea pigs alive and happy.

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