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Winnebago Co. Board postpones vote regarding amended ordinance of County Health Officer’s power

Published: Oct. 20, 2020 at 11:04 PM CDT
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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - After an hours long discussion involving public input, the Winnebago County Board has decided to postpone voting on an amended ordinance regarding the power of the County Health Officer.

The resolution would give the county’s Health Officer more authority to enforce rules, put in place by Governor Tony Evers, which are aimed at preventing the spread of viruses such as COVID-19.

The meeting, which started at 6 p.m., continued past 10 p.m. Tuesday night, and involved two hours of comments from community members regarding the amendment of Section 11.08 of the General Code of the Winnebago County Health Officer..

Many health care workers spoke out in support of it, citing the growing number of hospitalizations.

Those who violate orders from county health officials could face fines between $100-$500, and if it’s a business, the suspension of their operating license.

However, it was amended during the evening to say that any order can’t include the general shut down of a business.

“They’re businesses that I have supported for decades that I no longer go to, because they do not have safe COVID-19 processes. I’m not the only one who feels this way. The reason businesses are struggling is because people are unwilling to expose themselves to this virus,” said Pat Hallquist of Oshkosh.

“Hundreds, possibly thousands of people have contacted you and told you they are against this. Yet, here we are again. Your job is to listen to the people and represent the people,” said Jenifer Koser of Winneconne.

A similar measure went before the board in June, but was pulled amid criticism from business leaders.

The county’s corporation counsel says this ordinance wouldn’t give the county’s public health officer any additional power, it’s just a mechanism for enforcement that’s currently lacking.

The board will now take up the discussion next month at the County Board meeting, which is currently scheduled for November 17 at 6 p.m.

Click here to view the agenda and meeting packet for Tuesday’s meeting.

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