Jonesy's Local Bar in Hudson, Wisc. Photo Jerry Holt/(Minneapolis) Star Tribune via Getty Images

A rolling, living experiment — and preview of coming attractions for the rest of the country — has begun in Wisconsin, after a surprise court ruling made the Badger State the first in the nation where businesses can reopen.

The state of play: Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) warned of “massive confusion” after his stay-at-home order was thrown out Wednesday night by the state's Supreme Court.

  • Some bars filled within hours, picking up their St. Patrick's Day celebrations where they'd left off.
  • Restaurants, hair salons, barbershops, spas and gyms opened around the state, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
  • At Hair Extraordiniar By Michael in Menomonee Falls, patrons waited in their cars until it was their turn.

But the party was short-lived in the state's biggest areas — including Milwaukee, Madison, Green Bay and more — which pledged to continue the state's "safer at home" rules.

  • President Trump called the ruling a win: "The people want to get on with their lives. The place is bustling!"

Between the lines: For several years, Wisconsin has been a testing ground for GOP maximalism on labor, gerrymandering and other fronts — especially under the previous governor, Scott Walker (R).

  • The state's reopening conflicts reflect national divisions that have only deepened with the pandemic.
The Dairyland Brew Pub in Appleton, Wisc. Photo: William Glasheen/The Post-Crescent via Reuters

The big picture: Lawsuits challenging lockdown measures, in whole or in part, are pending across the country. But they're mostly failing.

  • Wisconsin’s high court is the only one to strike down an entire stay-at-home order.
  • Courts in Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania have sided with those states’ governors, allowing their stay-at-home orders to stand.
  • Even lawsuits targeted at narrow, specific parts of states’ orders mostly failed, with some exceptions. Different courts in different jurisdictions have reached different conclusions about restrictions on religious gathering, for example.
  • And judges have rebuffed some restrictions that targeted abortion providers.
  • Overwhelmingly, though, the trend is for courts to uphold governors' orders, even highly restrictive ones like Michigan's and California's.

What's next: Evers announced that his administration is working toward a new administrative rule for managing the crisis, a process he had warned could take weeks and might lead nowhere, AP reports.

  • A notice made clear the new rule will mirror Evers’ earlier recommendations.

Go deeper

Aug 22, 2020 - World

South Korea reenters lockdown after spike in coronavirus infections

A coronavirus test being done in Seoul. Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

South Korea is shuttering nightclubs and churches and cancelling professional sports and large social gatherings after an uptick in COVID-19 infections, AP reports.

The state of play: Health Minister Park Neung-hoo enacted the new rules on Saturday after 332 new cases were confirmed. To date, South Korea has seen 17,002 confirmed coronavirus cases, per Johns Hopkins University. Most of the outbreak is centralized in Seoul, but it is spreading to major cities throughout the country. South Korea has consistently been one of the strictest countries on COVID-19 precautions.

  • Seoul was placed under stricter lockdown rules earlier this week.
Updated Oct 7, 2020 - Health

World coronavirus updates

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Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand now has active no coronavirus cases in the community after the final six people linked to the Auckland cluster recovered, the country's Health Ministry confirmed in an email Wednesday.

The big picture: The country's second outbreak won't officially be declared closed until there have been "no new cases for two incubation periods," the ministry said. Auckland will join the rest of NZ in enjoying no domestic restrictions from late Wednesday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, declaring that NZ had "beat the virus again."

Updated Aug 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Trump accuses FDA of thwarting coronavirus response, after admin limits testing oversight

President Trump at the White House on Aug 20. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

President Trump on Saturday baselessly accused the Food and Drug Administration — which he likened to the "deep state, or whoever" — of making it harder for drug companies to distribute coronavirus treatments and vaccines.

Why it matters: Trump's tweet comes on the heels of a policy change by the Department of Health and Human Services to block the FDA's ability to regulate lab-developed tests, including for the coronavirus — which has public health experts worried that unreliable COVID-19 tests could go to market.