Kenosha County on Thursday withdrew its local action to continue enforcing Wisconsin's stay-at-home order, one day after the state Supreme Court overturned it statewide.
"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," Kenosha County Corporation Counsel Joseph Cardamone said in a statement.
"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," Cardamone continued.
The conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' order, ruling 4-3 that his administration overstepped its authority in issuing the restrictions.
Evers issued the stay-at-home order in March, closing schools and non-essential businesses to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus. State health officials had extended it through May 26 before it was struck down Wednesday.
That same day, Kenosha County - located on Lake Michigan, directly north of the Illinois border - health officials issued a local order continuing the regulations within the county through May 26.
But Cardamone said Thursday that new guidance from the Wisconsin Counties Association’s legal arm suggested that the statewide provision struck down by the Supreme Court also applied to local health departments.
Thus, Kenosha County withdrew its local order, allowing businesses to reopen "without risk of penalty or prosecution," county officials said in a statement Thursday, adding that they "strongly urge people to continue observing the public health guidelines outlined in Safer-at-Home."
“Sadly, Kenosha County remains far from being out of the woods with COVID-19,” Kenosha County Health Officer Dr. Jen Freiheit said. “It is our hope in the public health world that our community will continue to take the threat of the virus seriously and take precautions to slow its spread as we enter this next phase of reopening our economy.”
Wisconsin had more than 11,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 434 deaths as of Thursday, according to state health officials.