EAU CLAIRE — Multiple businesses in the Eau Claire area found fake health department placards posted on their doors this weekend that said they were under quarantine.
The Eau Claire City-County Health Department said Monday morning the generic-looking fliers were not posted by its staff. Furthermore, the department said it has not placed isolation or quarantine placards on any business, home or other facility during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Health Department believes the “spamming” of the businesses with the fraudulent placards is part of a misinformation campaign related to communicable disease ordinances being considered this month by the Eau Claire City Council and Eau Claire County Board.
“There was a direct reference to the ordinances being considered,” Audrey Boerner, public information officer with Eau Claire’s COVID-19 response.
The placards did not have the logo or name of the local Health Department on them, but instead were generic forms with blank spots where names of counties and health officials could be written.
Those fliers were copies of a page from a document written by the Wisconsin Counties Association to provide legal guidance to local officials who are considering their own communicable disease regulations.
That 60-page document has been referenced by protesters opposed to the proposed ordinances, claiming they are a government overreach that puts too much power in the hands of an unelected health officer.
In a Monday morning news release, the Health Department said the proposed ordinances do not expand the powers of local health officers beyond what state laws already allow. The proposals are also not specific to COVID-19, but also for any future communicable diseases that pose an imminent threat to the community.
The proposed ordinances outline how the local health officer can issue general orders — which has been done since mid-May under local emergency declarations — but also includes the power for local elected officials to decide whether those orders should be enforced or voluntary.
Local health orders to date have limited the capacity of businesses and restricted the size of public gatherings in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The proposed ordinances would allow health officers to issue a $200 fine to violators. The city’s version of the ordinance also mentions how businesses that violate could lose licenses issued by the city.
The City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the ordinance on Oct. 12 before voting on it the following day. The County Board is slated to hold its public hearing and vote on the ordinance on Oct. 20.