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Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck a fatal blow to Governor Tony Evers and his “Safer at Home” plans. Evers, and secretary-designee of the Department of Human Services (DHS), Andrea Palm, first issued an Emergency Declaration in March, followed by the “Safer at Home” orders that were set to expire on April 24. Shortly before that expiration, Evers and Palm extended the “Safer at Home” orders until May 26. Republicans in the state legislature sued, in part because Palm — not an elected official, but a political appointee — did not have the authority to impose criminal penalties through that order. The 4-3 decision called Palm’s order “unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable.”
The Evers administration was, unsurprisingly, displeased with the state Supreme Court’s ruling. In a call to reporters, Evers accused the state Republicans of being “unconcerned about…massive confusion that will exist without a statewide approach” with the media calling it a “patchwork approach.”
Yet…isn’t that how it should have been all along? In Wisconsin, the numbers as of May 17 are, according to the MacIver Institute as follows:
5.7 million Wisconsinites, 152,000 have been tested for COVID 19.
152,000 Wisconsinites tested for COVID 19, 92% of them came back negative.
6,500 have recovered, 5,500 are currently sick and 453 Wisconsinites have died.
Of the 5,500 currently sick, only 361 or 6.5% are hospitalized statewide and just 129 or 2.33% are currently in an ICU setting.
Most cases and deaths in the state are located in Milwaukee County. Currently, there are 5,185 positive cases and 240-260 deaths (depending on the source). Two counties — Langlade and Taylor — have zero reported cases. A majority of counties have no deaths, and those that do have fewer than 50 (with the exception of Milwaukee County). Why should those two case-free counties see their businesses shuttered and their lives upended? Why should counties where cases and deaths are low be under the same restrictions as counties where the cases and deaths are higher?
Evers and the DHS went to the legislature, asking them to revise the rule-making process that would give Palm the authority to extend Wisconsin’s statewide lockdown by an additional 150 days, with the possibility of another 120-day extension on top of that. For those who aren’t quick to do the math, that’s 270 days or…nine months. The Evers administration pushed, after keeping Wisconsin locked down since March, for another nine months. Never mind that state unemployment claims have skyrocketed with more than 2 million filed since March 15, while the Department of Workforce Development has failed to pay 675,000 claims. Thankfully, the Republican-controlled joint rules committee shot down Evers’ proposed rule change.
The driving mentality behind much of the lockdowns is now “I don’t want to go outside/to work/to a restaurant, therefore my neighbors shouldn’t be able to do so.” We were told that we needed to stay home for two weeks to “flatten the curve” in order to not overwhelm our health care system. We’ve done that, in spades. In Wisconsin, only 361 people are hospitalized and 129 of them are in the ICU. The curve is flattened. Hospitals, which had postponed “non-essential” elective procedures have units empty and are furloughing or laying off staff. But the goalposts are moved again and again. Fifteen days turned into 30 which turned into 45 which has now turned into indefinitely or until there is a vaccine (which may or may not happen, despite promising early reports).
Last week, I had the ability to escape Milwaukee, where the businesses remained closed, and drove to lake country to eat a meal at a bar that had reopened. The normalcy — sitting in the sun with good food and fellowship — was a balm to my soul. It was also the choice and flexibility of the city and county, which felt it was safe — and that the people were responsible enough — to open up businesses again. Many at the bar shared my sentiment. Given all that had happened during the lockdown, it was the mental health boost many of us needed.
This “patchwork” approach lamented by Gov. Evers is what’s best for all of us.Published in