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Western Wisconsin sheriff says he will defy Stay at Home order, allow businesses to reopen

The state's Stay at Home order is being extended as of Friday.
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A sheriff in a Wisconsin border county has said that businesses can reopen, despite the state's Stay at Home order being extended for another month from Friday.

The message from Polk County Sheriff Brent Waak shared on the department's Facebook page Tuesday has been shared more than 2,600 times.

Waak said he believes the extension of Gov. Tony Evers' original order, which expires on Friday, is an "over-reach of the State Government," and claims that since the pandemic started he adopted a "common sense" approach to the virus and watched the county "self-regulate and adapt to the order."

"I believe that most Polk County businesses can safely operate with some protective measures in place such as social distancing and protective equipment for staff/patrons," he wrote.

"I believe that our business community can be innovative and reopen safely with everyone's health in mind.

"I will work with our local Public Health officials to make sure our community continues to stay healthy and expect we can start to safely reopen our economy."

Wisconsin has had 4,620 total cases of the coronavirus as of Tuesday, with 242 deaths reported. It's been noted that the rate of new cases has been slowing compared to a month ago, suggesting that the state's social distancing measures are having an effect.

Polk County, which has more than 43,000 residents and borders Minnesota along the St. Croix River, including at Taylors Falls, has only had 4 confirmed cases of the virus.

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President Donald Trump has issued governors guidance for reopening economies, which includes proving there has been a two-week downward trend in new cases – which Wisconsin cannot – as well as having enough beds for patients and testing in place.

While Sheriff Waak is taking action at the local level, at the state-level Republican legislators are seeking a temporary injunction to block Gov. Evers' extension of the Stay at Home order.

It comes a few weeks after the same legislators successfully helped block Evers' 2-month delay of the state's primary and Supreme Court election, since when several cases of COVID-19 have been linked to people who lined up to vote in person.

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