MILWAUKEE -- As cities turn into ghost towns, people are urged to limit interactions to five people total and trips outside the home are asked to be limited to essential needs.
While flagrantly flouting the state order could lead to law enforcement stepping in, the punishment of not following the order could be far worse.
"The penalty of not staying at home is simply and definitively more deaths in our community," said Dr. Ben Weston of the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management. "By not staying home, more people will die. But if you stay home we are able to save lives, and it's really that simple."
The order from Gov. Tony Evers, as well as the City of Milwaukee's own order, go into effect Wednesday morning, March 24 and close nonessential businesses, banning gathering of any size, except those that are for essential work. Playgrounds are closed, and people are barred from team sports like basketball or football.
Gatherings of any number of people not in the same family are prohibited, and those who are ill -- positive COVID-19 test or not -- are urged to try to confine themselves to an area of the home away from others.
"There might be individuals that are symptomatic, or asymptomatic, that can spread COVID-19 to other people in the house," said City of Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik.
Going for a walk, run or bike ride is allowed, but social distancing is to be enforced at all times -- even within the home.
"What we are trying to emphasize over and over again is that the more distance that you have between individuals, the less likely we are to transmit this disease," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
The measures are in place to protect not only ourselves from illness but those we rely on to take care of us, those who are putting their own health on the line to combat the highly-contagious disease.
The restrictions are set to run through April 24, but health officials say that based on increasing infection and hospitalization rates, along with testing limitations and constraints, the only way to prevent hospitals from being overwhelmed is to stay at home.