Board of Health discusses next steps after state Supreme Court ruling

Court decision struck down stay at home order, but pandemic response continues
Tim Ryan

SHAWANO — Shawano County Board of Health members gathered remotely for a video conference Monday, meeting for the first time since social distancing and stay-at-home orders were issued by the state in March.

Though those orders have been nullified by a state Supreme Court decision, the Shawano-Menominee Counties Health Department is still encouraging those practices as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Public Health Director Vicki Dantoin said much of the department’s focus for the past two months has been on tracing people who might have had close contact with someone who has been confirmed as having COVID-19 or is awaiting test results.

Three office staff have been working on that, along with additional assistance the health department has been able to bring in from veterans services and the University of Wisconsin-Extension office.

“We’ve also been working with the tribal communities and they have been doing contact tracing along us,” she said. “We have a good local team going.”

Dantoin said public updates and community guidance has also been a priority.

The health department has also been working with a lot of local businesses, long-term care facilities and other types of facilities.

“Just kind of discussing their plans and answering questions,” she said.

Board member Deb Lidbury commended Dantoin and the health department for its work, but had harsh words for Sheriff Adam Bieber’s statements while the governor’s order was still in effect that he would not enforce it.

“I’m very disappointed with our county sheriff’s response to the stay at home order.” Lidbury said. “Shawano County has gotten a lot of negative press because of our bars opening because they don’t feel any sort of oversight.”

Lidbury said she had considered offering a motion to the board expressing disappointment with the sheriff, but chose instead to just give her personal opinion on the matter.

Lidbury wondered whether Shawano County’s public health department could issue its own stay at home order as did Brown County and the city of Appleton, but understood why it might not be practical.

Obviously you have to have enforcement when you make an order like that,” she said.

Dantoin said the question of whether the health department can issue its own citations has been in limbo the last few days.

“Since the supreme court decision, that has made it more difficult for us as health officers to figure out what is it that we can do,” she said.