13 UW-area residences facing large fines for violating public health orders

Published: Nov. 4, 2020 at 9:49 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - More than a dozen campus-area residences could soon face hefty fines and possible disciplinary action by the University of Wisconsin after allegedly violating county public health orders over the Halloween weekend.

Public Health Madison and Dane Co. officials are working with the Madison Police Dept. and the City Attorney’s Office to deliver summons and complaints to the houses, the City explained. The agency is also reportedly working with UW-Madison officials to determine if disciplinary action is needed there as well.

“COVID-19 continues to be an issue in our community, and hosting parties is contributing to the spread of the virus. We will be moving forward with prosecution actions for as many gatherings as we can in order to drive home how important it is to follow public health orders,” said Marci Paulsen from the City of Madison’s Attorney’s Office.

According to the city, violators could potentially be fined up to $1,000 per violation, explaining that each person over the mandated cap of 10 people at an indoor event (or 25 at outdoor ones) counts as a violation. As an example, the statement pointed to one residence which exceeded the limit by three people, meaning they could be fined up to $3,000.

One gathering brought together 91 people at a single apartment, it noted.

“People seem to make exceptions around friends and family, but this disease is tricky—you could feel fine and spread it to others. Unfortunately, the person you spread it to might not be so lucky,” PHMDC director Janel Heinrich said. “Gatherings both large and small pose a risk.”

The City also pointed to a risk assessment tool that determined that at a gathering of 10 people, there’s a nearly thirty-percent chance that someone is infected. If it’s 20 people, the odds are 50-50 someone is walking around with COVID-19.

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