Wisconsin 'Freedom Rally' Planned After Gov. Tony Evers Extends Coronavirus Lockdown by Extra Month

A rally which could be attended by thousands of people has been organized outside Wisconsin's State Capitol building in protest after Gov. Tony Evers extended the state "Safer at Home" order for another month. The protest, led by ReOpen Wisconsin and Wisconsinites Against Excessive Quarantine, is scheduled for April 24, when the original order was due to end, demanding Gov. Evers reopen the state.

According to a Facebook event page, more than 2,200 people said they will be attending the "Wisconsin Freedom Rally," with nearly 10,000 expressing an interest in the event on social media.

"Government mandating sick people to stay home is called quarantine. However, the government mandating healthy citizens to stay home, forcing businesses and churches to close is called tyranny," Reopen Wisconsin said in a statement, TMJ 4 reported. "It is not sustainable to continue this lockdown as the economic and societal consequences will be irreversible."

Gov. Evers directed the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to extend Wisconsin's order from April 24 to May 26 in order to help combat the coronavirus outbreak.

"A few weeks ago, we had a pretty grim outlook for what COVID-19 could mean for our state, but because of the efforts of all of you, Safer at Home is working. That said, we aren't out of the woods just yet," said Gov. Evers. "As I've said all along, we are going to rely on the science and public health experts to guide us through this challenge. So, as we extend Safer at Home, I need all of you to continue doing the good work you've been doing so we can keep our families, our neighbors, and our communities safe, and get through this storm together."

Madison Marie, one of the rally's organizers, said social distancing could still be observed at the protest, but admits it could be difficult.

"People are responsible for their own health, but we ask that they use common sense and if they are sick we ask that they stay home," Marie told Newsweek. "If they feel safer wearing a mask or gloves, they are free to do so.

"If they don't feel comfortable having people stand closer than six feet, it is their job to let that be known. I'm hoping that everyone will be respectful to each other and respect each other's personal wishes.

"I don't feel like there will be enough room for everyone to stand six feet apart though and not all people want to. Some people miss human interaction," Marie said.

The decision to extend the order has also been met with outcry with officials and community leaders.

State Sen. Patrick Testin said Gov. Evers' decision was "misguided." Sen. Testin said the governor must reconsider in order to "avoid the destruction" of tens of thousands of lives.

"Keeping Wisconsin's economy locked down for another 40 days will have serious repercussions for our communities. In recent weeks, nearly 400,000 people have filed for unemployment—that's simply unsustainable," Sen. Testin said in a statement. "The Governor has to understand that just like a body cannot function without a heart, our state can't function without our small businesses, our farms, or the people whose livelihoods depend on them. I would urge the Governor to meet with legislative leadership and members to strike a more effective solution."

Colby-Abbotsford Police Chief Jason Bauer also wrote a letter to Gov. Evers in which he urged the governor to "think of COVID-19 as the Devil."

"We are not supposed to fear the Devil, faith in God should prevail," Bauer wrote. "I do not fear the Devil nor COVID-19. I believe COVID-19 has some politicians scared, resulting in bad decisions."

Bauer said that "residents are ready to go back to work" and that the safer at home order is not necessary anymore in his county due to the low rate of infections. Bauer also said his department has seen a rise in domestic abuse during the lockdown, suggesting extending the order will make "some problems worse."

Gov. Evers' office has been contacted about the rally outside the Capitol building.

The Wisconsin State Capitol building on December 24, 2011 in Madison, Wisconsin. KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty

A small group of people have already staged a protest against the order to close 40 state parks, forests and recreational areas amid the outbreak.

Dozens of people ignored barricades to enter Lapham Peak in Delafield on April 14 demanding the parks be reopened. "This is insanity. It's gone way too far. We don't live in Nazi Germany," demonstrator Terri Bialas told WISN.

Evers said the decision to close spaces was due to "unprecedented crowds, litter, vandalism" seen after people flocked to the state parks when the administration fees were waived.

There are 3,875 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin with 197 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. In total, 54,703 people have recovered from the virus in the U.S.

This map, provided by Statista, shows the number of COVID-19 cases across the world as of April 17.

statista global chart coronavirus

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Advice on Using Face Coverings to Slow Spread of COVID-19

  • CDC recommends wearing a cloth face covering in public where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
  • A simple cloth face covering can help slow the spread of the virus by those infected and by those who do not exhibit symptoms.
  • Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items. Guides are offered by the CDC. (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html)
  • Cloth face coverings should be washed regularly. A washing machine will suffice.
  • Practice safe removal of face coverings by not touching eyes, nose, and mouth, and wash hands immediately after removing the covering.

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.