Only you can prevent COVID-19 deaths

Phil Anderson

Last week on Tuesday, 92 people died from COVID-19 in Wisconsin. This is the highest single, daily death toll since the pandemic began. Obviously this pandemic is not a hoax, nor is it going away.  

We are learning that we can not simply ignore, or wish away, this disease. Trying to live normal lives with family gatherings, parties, going out, going to work, or going to school is rapidly spreading the disease. People have to start taking this disease seriously and being more responsible about their behavior.  

“...only the people of Wisconsin can do what it takes to slow the spread of this disease and decrease the number of people suffering and dying every day. Every Wisconsinite must take individual responsibility to wear a face covering, stay home as much as possible, physically distance at least six feet from others, wash hands frequently, and keep your social circle to five people or less.”  

This plea for people to act responsibly is from Executive Order # 94 issued by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers on November 10, 2020. The executive order further documents the truth about the current disaster in Wisconsin:  

“Without a vaccine, the only tools to slow the spread of COVID19 is to physically distance and wear a mask. Without using these simple but vital life-saving tools, Wisconsin will continue to suffer from unnecessary illness and death.“  

“It took seven months for Wisconsin to reach its first 100,000 COVID-19 cases, but only five weeks to reach the second 100,000 cases. At the current rate of growth, we will reach the third 100,000 cases in only twenty days. Wisconsin consistently has more new cases of COVID-19 per day than the entire country of Canada has each day.”  

“As of November 9, 2020, 2,329 Wisconsinites lost their lives due to COVID-19. The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects that, based on current data, approximately 5,000 Wisconsinites could die from COVID-19 by January 1, 2021, if no further actions are taken to slow the spread of COVID-19. By contrast, universal mask wearing could save almost 800 lives by January 1” (emphasis added).  

“The consequences of failing to act will continue to be devastating and deadly. Hospital capacity shortages throughout the state are at record high levels.”  

Read the full “Executive Order” here.

Governor Evers first declared a public health emergency to combat the corona virus on March 12, 2020. He has issued eleven executive and emergency health orders attempting to contain the spread of the pandemic and keep the people of Wisconsin safe from the disease.    

The most recent executive order, quoted above, is different because it does not “order” or require any specific public health actions. Nor does it contain any penalties for not following his recommendations. Prior executive orders (which have the force of law) did have enforcement provisions with penalties. But Executive Order #94 only RECOMMENDS sensible, but necessary, steps to control the pandemic. The Governor of Wisconsin has been reduced to begging people to behave responsibly.  

Why can't the governor enforce sensible public health restrictions? There are two reasons. One is that the Republican legislative leadership is more interested in playing political power struggle games than protecting public health and safety. Through suing the Governor, legislative inaction, and promoting misinformation about the seriousness of the virus, they have successfully overturned most of Evers' efforts to combat the pandemic.  

In May, the state Supreme Court knocked down Evers’ stay-at-home order in a lawsuit brought by the Republican controlled legislature. In October a state appeals court blocked the Evers’ order limiting public gatherings, including restrictions on bar and restaurant capacity. On November 16, the State Supreme Court began hearings on a suit to overturn Evers' statewide mask mandate. The Republican legislative leadership joined the case in support of this law suit.  

The Republican rationale for opposing Evers' executive orders is that he does not have authority to take these actions (a legal position disputed by many legal experts). They claim he should have involved the legislature. But the legislature has not been is session since April. Republicans have the power to convene at any time and overturn Ever's actions or to enact their own plan to combat the pandemic. But instead they have been paying private attorneys, at taxpayer expense, to block his public health measures. They would rather split legal hairs in a power struggle than protect the people from disease.  

The other reason the pandemic is rapidly spreading is that many people are ignoring medical advice to stay at home and wear masks. Half the population has bought into the false, dangerous, unscientific, and misleading statements by Trump and other Republican leaders downplaying the seriousness of the pandemic. They believe it is a hoax, it is no more dangerous than the flu, opening the economy is more important, or their “freedom” is more important than any public health requirements. They are too selfish and uncaring to even wear a mask in public. Their convenience is is more important than your health.  

Tom Ivey, a writer for the Middle Wisconsin News, sums up this attitude well.  

“How many lives will our community lose because someone is temporarily inconvenienced?” It’s as simple as that! Some of us are endangering, and even killing, our family members, friends and neighbors because we don’t want to, temporarily, give up something we enjoy doing!” “How Many Lives Will We Loose in the War Against COVID-19”, Middle Wisconsin News, Nov. 1, 2020  

If we are to defeat the pandemic people have to come together and act responsibly for the good of the whole community. But too many people won't do it. Sadly the chickens have come home to roost from 50 years of the right wing preaching division, selfishness, and distrust of science, experts, and government. Now we are paying the price.