A new study by five researchers published by the National Bureau of Economic Research found “no evidence that the repeal of [Wisconsin’s stay-at-home order”] impacted social distancing, COVID-19 cases, or COVID-19-related mortality during the fortnight following enactment.”

You will recall that the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down the state’s emergency stay-at-home order, in full, on May 13. That led Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers to say then, “We’re the Wild West.. There are no restrictions at all across the state of Wisconsin. . . . So at this point in time…there is nothing compelling people to do anything other than having chaos here.”

That made for a “unique natural experiment,” according to the researchers, providing a look at the consequences of a full, clean break from stay-at-home restrictions.

The researchers attributed the results largely to continued, voluntary adherence to social distancing measures. Lifting stay-at-home rules, the researchers said, “does not mean that individuals will exercise that right, and does not mean that if they do, that they will not do so responsibly.”

In other words, most people acted sensibly even though their governor wasn’t micromanaging their lives.

Press reports in Illinois and around the country focused pictures of large groups in bars and at a beach in Lake Geneva taken immediately after the Wisconsin order was voided. However, those were misleading, if the researchers are correct. Anecdotally, I can confirm that they were misleading. I was in the Lake Geneva area at the time. Little changed. Most restaurants, bars and shops remained mostly or entirely closed. I am there again now and they are only now opening, and very timidly, with no large crowds.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said on May 26 that he was “terribly dismayed” about the supposed crowds in Wisconsin. He cited an uptick in COVID hospitalizations at that time and said, “I think that’s an example of what can happen if people don’t follow the mitigations that are supposed to be put in place, that are supposed to keep people healthy and safe”

In fact, despite a brief uptick then, hospitalizations in Wisconsin have dropped to just 306, the lowest since May 6. A chart is below. Wisconsin’s other metrics have improved pretty much across the board, particularly on the effective reproduction rate. That rate is now 0.87, which means each infected individual infects less than one additional person and the virus is receding. Since last month, as reported here, Wisconsin has moved from near worst reproduction rates above 1 to now among the ten best.


-Mark Glennon

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4 months ago

Look who did this study the national economic research aka paid for by rich business owners who dont give a shit if their employees live or die .hey if the employees get covid and dont come to work they can say right to work law and fire them because they will have already been replaced by the time they are well .and I’m sure this study is unbiased they would never make this up to further their donors agenda right

4 months ago

Hospitalization rates have other factors to be considered for analysis. For one thing hospitals are starved for revenues and so even low margin COVID-19 cases to fill med-surg beds may be welcomed. (Every flu season there are patients who should have just stayed home to recover, but if Medicare pays they may be admitted). ED docs and nurses will tell you that diagnostic indicators and thus treatment protocols have changed rapidly over the course of this epidemic. Today (but not 2 months ago) abnormal d-dimer and c-reactive protein tests are widely considered highly correlated to worse outcomes and so may… Read more »

Governor of Alderaan
4 months ago

The science is settled!

4 months ago

Pritzker himself, with family, was part of that “crowd” dining in Lake Geneva restaurants that were opened. This despot four times self-appoints himself “absolute ruler over Illinois”, even while violating his own “shelter at home” order multiple times to travel to Racine, Lake Geneva and Florida. He and his family have disregarded his own mandates, with no regard to the “visuals” of their overt disobedience to his dictates. His arrogance is stunning. Bought himself the governor position, and thinks himself “above the law”, over and over again. Toilet-gate. Yes, Illinois is in the toilet, thanks Pritzker, thanks Lightfoot. By the… Read more »

4 months ago
Reply to  Streeterville

It is so offensive that he’s in Wisconsin gorging himself on the priciest food known to man while the rest of us can’t go for a beer at a beer garden.
The only reason why people still support him is infanticide.

Mark Felt
4 months ago

Basic training in the U.S. Army lasts about eight weeks. In that short time they can reshape a person’s life. Several weeks of lockdown, social distancing and extra sanitation measures can have the same effect on the general population which is what appears to have happened in Wisconsin. My hat’s off to the responsible citizens in the state.

4 months ago

The only thing that causes Jay Bob dismay is the fact that his Covid house of cards is collapsing around him.