March 16, 2020 - League of Wisconsin Municipalities - COVID-19 Update #2
COVID-19 Coronavirus Update
League COVID-19 Virtual Roundtable Conference Call
This call is for City/Village Officials & Staff Only

Today - Monday, March 16, 2020 - 4:00 -5:00 p.m.
Tomorrow - Tuesday, March 17, 2020 - 4:00-5:00 p.m.

We know it is short notice and appreciate your understanding. Also understand that we are limited to 150 lines through Wisline at this time.

Call: 1-855-947-8255
Passcode: 5574 824#

Agenda - Jerry will review the frequently asked questions that we received and, if time permits, we will hear from people on the phone.

If you aren't able to connect or have a question after participating, please contact Jerry Deschane at email.

We will schedule additional calls as needed. Notice will be provided on the League's website and in these Special Edition newsletters, which will also be sent as needed.
Frequently Asked Questions

Complying with the open meetings law during the COVID-19 health emergency.  We have received many questions on the ability of municipal governing bodies to dissuade the public from attending otherwise open meetings and/or use technology to conduct virtual meetings during the health emergency. We have asked the Governor to issue an executive order relaxing certain aspects of the state's open meetings law during the COVID-19 health emergency similar to steps taken in California and Massachusetts. Read our letter  here .

We received some guidance today from the Wisconsin Department of Justice on the following question: May municipal governmental bodies practice social distancing and still comply with the open meetings law by meeting via telephone or video conferencing?

Answer: Yes . The Wisconsin Department of Justice issued an advisory on March 16, 2020, addressing this issue and stating that: “G overnmental bodies typically can meet their open meetings obligations, while practicing social distancing to help protect public health, by conducting meetings via telephone conference calls if the public is provided with an effective way to monitor such calls (such as public distribution, at least 24 hours in advance, of dial-in information for a conference call).” The advisory emphasizes that  

“When an open meeting is held by teleconference or video conference, the public must have a means of monitoring the meeting. DOJ concludes that, under the present circumstances, a governmental body will typically be able to meet this obligation by providing the public with information (in accordance with notice requirements) for joining the meeting remotely, even if there is no central location at which the public can convene for the meeting. A governmental body conducting a meeting remotely should be mindful of the possibility that it may be particularly burdensome or even infeasible for one or more individuals who would like to observe a meeting to do so remotely—for example, for people without telephone or internet access or who are deaf or hard of hearing—and appropriate accommodations should be made to facilitate reasonable access to the meeting for such individuals.”
The advisory notes that “providing only remote access to an open meeting is not always permissible” and that “the type of access that constitutes reasonable access in the present circumstances, in which health officials are encouraging social distancing (including avoiding large public gatherings) in order to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 may be different from the type of access required in other circumstances.” It concludes with the discomforting fact that ultimately, whether a meeting is reasonably accessible is a factual question that must be determined on a case-by-case basis.

Spending to address COVID-19 and the Expenditure Restraint Program .
Question:   Will municipalities that buy additional supplies and make other unanticipated expenditures in 2020 associated with responding to the COVID-19 Coronavirus national and state declared public health emergencies jeopardize their eligibility to receive expenditure restraint program (ERP) payments in 2021?
Answer:   No.  The Expenditure Restraint Program law (Wis. Stat. § 79.05(2)(c)) expressly exempts unreimbursed expenses related to an emergency declared under Wis. Stat. § 323.10 from the ERP spending limits. Governor Evers’  Executive Order #72 , declaring a health emergency in response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus, expressly states that the emergency is being declared under authority provided by Wis. Stats. § 323.10. Therefore, unreimbursed expenses associated with providing unanticipated health and safety services in response to the Coronavirus pandemic are exempt from the ERP spending limit. We anticipate that DOR will at some point publish guidance on this issue and how best to document unreimbursed expenses related to the Coronavirus public health emergency.

COVID-19 Information for Election Officials   (Including a  sample news release  encouraging absentee voting)
Guidance as of 3/15/2020
CDC, in accordance with its guidance for  large events and mass gatherings ,  recommends that for the next 8 weeks, organizers (whether groups or individuals) cancel or postpone in-person events that consist of 50 people or more throughout the United States.  Read full recommendation .
Data Shows Need to Act Quickly!

Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now
Politicians, Community Leaders and Business Leaders: What Should You Do and When?

"Here’s what I’m going to cover in this article, with lots of charts, data and models with plenty of sources:
  • How many cases of coronavirus will there be in your area?
  • What will happen when these cases materialize?
  • What should you do?
  • When?

When you’re done reading the article, this is what you’ll take away:
  • The coronavirus is coming to you.
  • It’s coming at an exponential speed: gradually, and then suddenly.
  • It’s a matter of days. Maybe a week or two.
  • When it does, your healthcare system will be overwhelmed.
  • Your fellow citizens will be treated in the hallways.
  • Exhausted healthcare workers will break down. Some will die.
  • They will have to decide which patient gets the oxygen and which one dies.

The only way to prevent this is social distancing today. Not tomorrow. Today.

That means keeping as many people home as possible, starting now."

Note - we've asked Public Health whether this is accurate and confirmed that it is.
Note - we are still building this page.
If you don't find what you need or if you have resources to contribute,
please email Jerry Deschane.
Share these to your own Facebook page!
Click here to share this FAQ from the League's Facebook page to your own:

You've heard the term "Flattening the Curve" in relation to the Coronavirus - but what does that mean? The basic idea is to SLOW the spread of the virus so that our healthcare and response system is not overwhelmed.

See this chart provided by the  U.S. Surgeon General  on Twitter.
Click here to share this FAQ from the League's Facebook page to your own:

How can you tell if you have coronavirus or a cold or the flu?

White House INVITATION: State & Local Briefing Call on COVID-19 (Wednesday, March 18, 12:00 PM CST)

To State and Local Elected Officials –
On Wednesday, March 18, at 12:00 PM CST , please join Senior Administration Officials for a briefing call on COVID-19 (coronavirus).  Registration instructions are below. Please note that this call is intended for state and local elected officials. We encourage you to share this invitation with your county and/or municipal colleagues as well as public health officials.

Important Note: Call-in lines are limited. Please register only if you are able to join the call. State and local leaders (especially staff) working in the same office are encouraged to register once as a group and use one call-in line to maximize the number of people who can join.

Call-In Registration : CLICK HERE
Note: You must RSVP to join the call. Upon successful registration, you will receive dial-in details to the email address you use to register. Note that multiple people cannot dial-in using the same registration information.

As a reminder, WH IGA is the primary liaison between the White House and the country’s State and local elected officials and Tribal Governments.

The White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs               
William F. Crozer
Special Assistant to the President/Deputy Director
White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs
COVID-19 is a virus that has not previously infected humans and information about its rate of spread and its effects is still largely unknown, which makes it incredibly important to be highly cautious in dealing with the current situation. 

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services will continue to provide the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19 and you are encouraged to monitor the site for updated guidance as the situation continues to evolve.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Coronavirus web resource page is a good place to look for more information.

Want to share relevant and credible information to your Social Media?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Facebook & on Twitter (Scroll down to see more recent posts.)

The Wisconsin Dept of Health Services (DHS) on Facebook & on Twitter.