If ever there were a compelling reason for Americans of all stripes and groupings to come together for the good of the country, it’s the battle against the novel coronavirus COVID 19. To be effective, it has to be a united front.
So how did it get so partisan? Public health issues usually find a compromise approach.
In absence of common ground in Wisconsin, the spread of the virus has escalated to very scary proportions – close to 3,000 new positive cases per day in the state County alone.
A national map of the red-colored virus spread in the New York Times makes Wisconsin look like a nosebleed, the reddest patch in the country. Northeastern Wisconsin has the worst hemorrhage of positive cases and hospitalizations, but Southeastern Wisconsin is not far behind. It’s deadly and it’s embarrassing.
There is no escape from the conclusion that our public officials failed in their leadership, from the White House to the Statehouse down to local government.
Some have argued that the economy has to stay wide open for the sake of jobs, but anyone in business knows that getting the virus under control is Job One for keeping our businesses open. It’s the infection that’s devastating businesses, not government mandates.
Leaders in other states and communities have developed consensus plans for masks, testing and tracing, and they are working far better than the absence of plans in Wisconsin.
The GOP plan in Wisconsin is to run to the courts and block what Gov. Evers is trying to do. On the Democratic side Evers’ plans have been a sledgehammer when a hammer would do. There is a consensus answer in between.
Here’s an idea for a mandate that makes sense from a pragmatic point of view. Pass a law that requires the governor and Speaker Robin Vos to lock themselves and their top aides in a room and don’t let them out until they have a funded plan for wide scale testing of every citizen, rigorous tracing, along with massive education for virus hygiene.
Businesspeople like me are getting downright angry that they haven’t pulled together to mitigate the damage to the economy, to education at all levels and to our businesses.
We can’t wait for herd immunity in 2021 or beyond. We can’t wait for a vaccine. We need to put a tourniquet on the health and economic devastation now. Nor can we waste time and energy standing on principle. We wear mandated seat belts when driving. We wear mandated orange when deer hunting. We wear mandated personal flotation jackets when boating.
To save our businesses from bankruptcy, most businesses already mandate masks to prevent viral spread. We don’t need our community leaders under-cutting those tough company policies by suggesting it’s up to individuals to decide. Community rights must trump individual rights in a major crisis.
Wisconsin is near the bottom in terms of controlling the pandemic. It should be near the top. We need concerted and consensual leadership.
Call a special session of the legislature to get it done.