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New ordinance to be introduced to the County Board that allows enforcement of public health orders and legislative oversight

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Press release from the Sheboygan County Division of Public Health:

Sheboygan— A new ordinance will be introduced during the Tuesday, August 18th County Board of Supervisors meeting regarding Disease Control: Providing for Enforcement of Public Health Orders and Legislative Oversight. After the ordinance is introduced, it will then be referred to a committee (to be determined) for recommendation. The County Board will vote on the ordinance at the September 15th meeting.

The goal of the proposed ordinance is to be prepared if we see a significant spike in COVID-19 and our hospitals are on the brink of being overrun. The Sheboygan County Division of Public Health strives to do all we can to keep our economy, businesses and schools operational and employees going to work. County Public Health Officers already have significant authority in current State Statutes. This proposed ordinance softens that existing authority, as it proposes checks and balances with legislative oversight by the County Board.

Since the start of this pandemic Sheboygan County Division of Public Health has focused on collaboration, transparency and local data to make decisions with input from local leaders and our hospital systems. Public Health is regularly monitoring local hospital capacity and has determined through conversations with Hospital Administrators that if 50% of the total intensive care unit (ICU) or COVID dedicated medical-surgical beds are occupied by positive COVID-19 patients, our hospitals would be concerned about being overrun and their ability to meet patient needs.

“There are currently no local Public Health orders in place. If we do see a surge of COVID-19 in our community and need to take stronger action to protect the health and vitality of our community, we will have a stronger collaborative approach established. This process also allows for greater public input through the legislative oversight process” states Sheboygan County Health Officer, Starrlene Grossman.

If passed, violation of the ordinance does not include any criminal penalties, nor would it require residents to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or any other diseases.

Currently the Sheboygan County Health Officer has the authority to take all measures necessary to prevent, suppress, and control communicable diseases such as COVID-19. If passed, the ordinance would include the following:

  • Health & Human Services Committee and Executive Committee oversight and possible ratification or nullification of Public Health orders.
  • Any person who violates or obstructs an order of the Sheboygan County Health Officer or the State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services is subject to any of the following:

○    A citation may be issued by law enforcement

○    A forfeiture of $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second offense, and $100 for the third offense

○    The issuance of a Summons and Complaint and the entry of a civil judgement for a forfeiture

○    A court order

  • Businesses in which an individual is violating Public Health order shall ask the individual to leave the premises. Businesses may rely on an individual’s statements if they claim to be exempt from the Public Health order for the reasons permitted

○    Any business violating the ordinance may be subject to administrative action for any licenses it holds within the County.

Last week the proposed ordinance was unanimously approved by the Sheboygan County Health & Human Services Committee. “This ordinance puts a plan in place to be prepared to take steps if things get significantly worse, to protect our community and keep people working”, says Sheboygan County Administrator Adam Payne. “We all hope, similar to purchasing home insurance or a fire extinguisher, it will never be needed.” Payne added.

The Sheboygan County Division of Public Health works diligently to protect and educate the community. The proposed ordinance ensures that Public Health will work with local elected leaders to protect Sheboygan County. “We appreciate the support of local officials and the business community. In order to defeat COVID, we all need to take personal responsibility and work together,” said County Board Chairman Vernon Koch.

See Ordinance here

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