Wisconsin has 2nd fewest COVID restrictions in U.S.

    (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)

    Wisconsin is now second among all the states in the nation with the fewest COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, after the Wisconsin Supreme Court tossed out Safer at Home restrictions.

    The personal-finance and ranking website WalletHub has been keeping tabs on what states are doing to protect citizens and prevent the spread of COVID-19. In the latest rankings calculated Monday and released Tuesday, Wisconsin has the dubious distinction of being the second least restrictive state.

    Dubious, that is, unless you feel that opening regardless of public health recommendations means more freedom, and then this ranking may sound glorious.

    Wisconsin moved a full 32 spots since the May 5 ranking, while the majority of states moved hardly at all during this time period. The only state with fewer restrictions than Wisconsin was South Dakota. 

    South Dakota has had 3,987 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 44 deaths, compared to Wisconsin, which has had 12,543 cases and 453 deaths, on Tuesday according to the daily map kept by the Centers for Disease Control.

    South Dakota is also one of seven states that never had a mandate for all schools to close, and it is the only state that never required bars and restaurants statewide to close.



    Wisconsin’s ranking in some of the areas used to calculate and assess the states include:

    Coronavirus Restrictions in Wisconsin (1=Fewest, 25=Avg.):

    • 1st – Requirement to Wear a Face Mask in Public
    • 1st – Reopening of Child-Care Programs
    • 28th – Travel Restrictions
    • 2nd – Large Gatherings Restrictions
    • 7th – “Shelter in Place” Order
    • 7th – Reopening of Non-Essential Businesses
    • 2nd – Reopening of Restaurants and Bars

    Note: Rankings are based on data available as of 12:30 p.m. ET on Monday, May 18, 2020.

    One of the only areas where Wisconsin did not have the fewest restrictions possible was in “suspension or postponement of legislative session” where Wisconsin came in right near the middle of the pack at number 27.

    “In order to determine the states with the fewest coronavirus restrictions, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 11 key metrics,” states the website. “Our data set ranges from whether child-care programs and restaurants have reopened to the presence or absence of a “shelter-in-place” order.” 

    Source: WalletHub

    So what’s a citizen do to keep safe in states — like Wisconsin — that have the fewest restrictions and crowds gathering in bars? 

    “In order to stay safe in the states that have the fewest coronavirus restrictions, people can wear masks and gloves in public even if it’s not required, and they can minimize the amount of time they spend around other people,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Employees whose jobs allow for working from home could request that their employers let them do so for another few months, and those who can’t work remotely should make sure their workplaces are cleaned regularly and have measures in place to reduce crowding.”

    Gonzales said that as businesses reopen, “state legislatures should transition from guidelines on social distancing to laws, such as requiring mask wearing in public places and limiting the number of people per square footage.”

    She added, “States can show extra care to vulnerable populations by making sure they are accommodated with free deliveries of essential goods and exclusive hours at all businesses. Most importantly, state governments need to closely monitor the number of coronavirus cases, prepare for a second wave, and adjust further reopening plans if needed to avoid too much of a strain on hospitals.”

    Further metrics and the full report are available here

    Melanie Conklin
    Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.