The Impersonal Pandemic

Almost a full year into the international pandemic and not enough people have died to cause the Republican Party into taking continuing legislative action to protect the economy nor the people in it.

The GOP have proudly proclaimed that the best government action to take is to provide the least amount of government during the pandemic. Laissez-faire public health policy.

In multiple states, the Republican Party has pushed back on the emergency powers of its Governor and stripped him or her of any and every actionable item they can take. They have captured the emergency response into the legislative arm of government and then done nothing.

The number of deaths in the country and here in Wisconsin have not been sufficiently high enough to warrant government action.

And yet, the state legislature fails to meet due to concerns about the virus. The old white men in Wisconsin State Legislature have protected themselves with legislative social distancing and let the devil take everyone else.

This pandemic is not personal enough to act upon. No bodies in the street. Only old people are dying and a few other tragic deaths that hardly move the needle of empathy.

This is an impersonal pandemic. Few of your loved ones have died. Maybe a few of your shirttail relatives (that your parents once knew) have passed on but your personal misery and grief hardly registers on the scale of life’s events.

Of course, we are only into the first anniversary for the The Age of COVID. A vaccine will be available soon. Perhaps this vaccine will truncate the duration of the pandemic.

We can only hope.

COVID Public Health Policy

Let’s begin with three premises.

  1. Laissez-faire Public Health Policy by governments doesn’t work.
  2. Protecting the public as they conduct their lives is a government responsibility.
  3. The public includes workers, buyers, sellers, producers, consumers, creators, and their families.

Public Health Policy During the Age of COVID

  1. All public-facing activity shall have a COVID Protection and Sanitization Plan (CPSP) posted for the public to review and determine if the sanitization is sufficient to protect them while engaged in that public-facing interaction.
  2. A CPSP Plan shall consist of the methods of sanitization,the scope of sanitization, the frequency of sanitization, the responsibilities of the public who enter, the responsibilities of staff who serve, and any unique requirements for participation in the public-facing interaction. There shall also be facility contact information if the public believes there is a breach in the CPSP Plan as well as the Public Health contact information to report a breach.
  3. Federal and State Public Health officials shall inform the public on how to evaluate protections offered by CSPS Plans and determine if they are suitable for their needs. The needs addressed may include age, gender, health, and items pertinent to the activity. Information to the public shall include radio and TV Public Safety Announcements as well as social media.
  4. Federal and State Public Health officials shall issue guidelines for large public gatherings as well as individual interactions. Those guidelines shall include associated and varied social distancing requirements as well as appropriate mask wearing while participating.
  5. Federal and State Public Health officials shall report on the capacity and capabilities of medical facilities available to treat COVID infections and provide locations of public testing facilities.
  6. Mask wearing in non-public facing operations is the purview of the facility except in the protection of food or drug production, packaging, and preparation, for interstate distribution. As in all interstate commercial activity, the federal government has the authority through the FDA to regulate the safety of food distribution.

Freedom of Something?

“The first mask mandate went into effect on July 30 when the seven-day new case average was, according to the Department of Health Services, 887 new cases daily. Case growth would gradually decrease, reaching a low point on Sept. 3 of 674 average daily confirmed cases over seven days. However, once students returned to classrooms, especially in colleges, spread of the virus exploded. The seven-day daily average is now 2,155 cases, according to the Department of Health Services.”

And so it goes…more Republican judge shopping… the intent is to find a judge who thinks Republican goals HAVE MORE VALUE THAN COVID-19 PREVENTION!

Draw your own conclusions…

Damn the Infirm and the Elderly! No Mask Mandates Allowed!

Once again, Wisconsin Republican leadership doesn’t give a Shinola that the elderly and the infirm may die from COVID-19. Determined to preserve the personal liberty of not wearing masks at somebody else’s expense, Wisconsin Republicans continue a let-them-eat-cake attitude regarding compromised immune systems and susceptible citizens during a pandemic.

They are banking on the fact that there will not be enough deaths in Wisconsin before November 3rd to impact their election chances. Does that sound harsh? Well, maybe. Forcing herd immunity through inaction seems pretty harsh to me, too.

From UP NORTH NEWS:

A recent favorite of mine, UP NORTH NEWS is smack on top of all things Wisconsin. You may have read my email exchange with State Rep. Romaine Quinn a few weeks ago. As I predicted, the Republicans don’t care about the spread of COVID among the general population. But it also appears their duplicitous behavior is oh-so-much-more.

This building where Scott Walker, having never campaigned in 2010 on a promise to slash workers’ collective bargaining rights, announced he and legislative Republicans were going to slash workers’ collective bargaining rights. This building where Walker, having spent his 2014 re-election campaign never fully embracing the perversely named “Right to Work” laws, cheered when legislative Republicans rushed the union busting bill to him once the campaign was over.

This building where Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos –having hurriedly passed lame duck legislation curtailing the powers of the incoming Gov. Tony Evers– said they were shocked, SHOCKED that the governor had no contact person for them as legislative leaders, only to be reminded that they had been told repeatedly to work with Evers’ chief of staff, just as they had with Walker’s. 

So when Republican legislators claimed on Wednesday to be apoplectic at learning a recent telephone conversation with the governor had been recorded, it only begged one question: what had Fitzgerald and Vos said after previous meetings that made someone on Evers’ staff determined to ensure there was an accurate record of what was actually discussed?

To be fair, nobody on Evers’ team is publicly claiming as much. The official response was that for such an important meeting –negotiating a new potential set of coronavirus safeguards after Republicans successfully got the state Supreme Court to kill the existing rules– recording was necessary to ensure accurate note-taking so that any new rule drafts would reflect the conversation.

But as it turned out, notes were not necessary. The Republicans, whose argument to the Supreme Court was that they wanted “a seat at the table” in crafting a new set of rules, told Evers there would be no seats needed, no table, no new rules; they would veto anything Evers offered.

And yet they now claim to be shocked that there was a lack of trust to the point where someone felt a recording was necessary?

Notes from the President

President Trump wished everyone a HAPPY Memorial Day.

You can’t make this stuff up. This President is simply disconnected from the real world. HAPPY? Mr President? HAPPY Memorial Day?

Oh, well. He is one of us even if he isn’t the best example of one of us.

In a second note of the President’s remarks, Mr. President is DEMANDING to know if North Carolina will allow the Republican National Convention take place in North Carolina in August.

I say YES! HAPPY to do it! Keep everything closed except hotels and restaurants within 1 mile of the Convention Center and just let ‘er’ rip!

Caution all attendees to practice social distancing and wear a mask. Keep all the other stuff closed.

And make this announcement: “The City of Charlotte North Carolina wishes to thank the President of the United States for his support of the Republican National Convention and welcomes all to attend. The hotels and restaurants will be open only to the attendees of the RNC event. The City of Charlotte assumes no responsibility for any pandemic outcome and recognizes that Republican leadership will choose how to protect themselves during the pandemic.”

Perhaps a little snigger at the end is also appropriate.

More Judicial Activism?

The right-wing activist responsible for organizing the “Freedom Rally” in Madison where up to 72 people caught coronavirus is one of 17 plaintiffs in a lawsuit that aims to overturn most remaining stay-home orders in the state and prevent more from ever being issued, even as some are already expired and most of them are set to expire within the next few days.

The suit calls stay-home orders, designed to stop the spread of coronavirus, “irrational and unjustifiable” and claims health officials “lack a compelling, legitimate, or rational interest in the orders’ application.”

So once more there is a push to abandon StayAtHome orders in Wisconsin.

Look, it is one thing to say we have to learn to live with COVID-19 (my point for three months now) instead of ONLY ISOLATING. And it is completely different to say abandon ALL StayAtHome orders.

Who benefits if more people contract COVID-19 and are hospitalized and perhaps die?

FEND FOR YOURSELF has never sounded so ominous as it does now.

It appears there aren’t enough bodies in the street for some people.

Since when has a working policy proved its value so well and yet people are rushing in to trash it so completely?

COVID Emails with State Rep Part 3

Hopefully, you have kept up with the progression of my emails to my State Rep over the COVID actions taken by the State of Wisconsin.  And once again, allow me to remind you I am a fan of my State Rep. He is a good man.

I was pointy-headed in my previous response to my State Rep. His reply below has bit of tone to it also. I expect this in a citizen-representative dialogue. I presume he does, too.

Here’s his reply on Friday May 15th:

We aren’t asking for help, we’re asking for the Governor to recognize that there is another co-equal branch of government that he should work with when making decisions. After talking with leaders from other legislative bodies throughout the country, our Governor is one of the few that chooses not to include us in his decision making process, let alone inform us before taking actions.
Did the Governor have the authority to make unilateral decisions for the first 60 days under his order? Yes. But that doesn’t mean he gets to continue to do whatever he wants, but just through his secretary. You say the law is clear that he could continue to do so, but the Supreme Court disagrees.
We have been asking the Governor over and over to meet to negotiate on how best to re-open. He has refused time and again to do so. We’ve asked to look at taking a regional approach to re-opening – he’s rejected that too. We’ve asked him for the metrics he’s using to make almost daily and sometimes odd changes when it comes to who gets to open or stay closed — once again he doesn’t tell us. 
There is no point in passing a plan to regionally re-open or ease restrictions when it still has to clear him, which is why we’ve asked him to meet. At this point, I believe XXX County officials are much more capable at setting guidelines for our area than the administration, and they do have the authority to do so. Blaming one side or the other for the spread of a virus which is based upon actions taken by individuals is sad. I didn’t expect that kind of rhetoric from you.
As you can see, my State Rep is disingenuous again about metrics and knowledge. He has re-framed what the legislative leadership did and is doing. He says there is no point in passing a plan when it has to clear the governor anyway. This is true of everything the legislature does so this isn’t a valid reason for not creating a plan at all in the three weeks it took for the ruling.  A plan which could have been sent IN ADVANCE to the Department of Health Services in order to prevent turning the State of Wisconsin into “shambles”.
I sent my reply to my State Rep yesterday. Here is what I said:
With respect Representative XXX,
Since January 2019, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has blocked Palm’s nomination (RC: Andrea Palm is the head of the Department of Health Services). Some Republican leaders have called for her resignation. An up-or-down vote should have occurred but it has not. That is on the leadership of the Senate.
You can imagine that there might be a reluctance to include Republican leadership in discussions that the law clearly allows. As you recently wrote to me “State law is clear: Governor Evers can use DHS to take drastic action without consultation with the Legislature.”  And the Wisconsin Supreme Court obviously thinks that Section 252 of the Wisconsin statutes does not mean what the Wisconsin legislature intended when it was passed. Shame on them.
In your recent email, you brought up the issue of not knowing what metrics were being used and what plans there were and yet the Wisconsin Outbreak web site is full of metrics and information. That website is a good example of government transparency.
Anyone following the crisis knows that Wisconsin’s Bounce Back Program is showing four out of six favorable indicators for re-opening Wisconsin. The state process is working under the leadership of Palm and the Governor.
And yet, the Republican leadership demanded a seat at the table. To get a seat at the table, Republican leadership broke the darn table.
There was nothing wrong-headed about Palm’s approach. In fact, Republican leadership requested the Wisconsin Supreme Court wait six days after reaching a decision so they could negotiate with the Governor. They were rebuffed by the Supreme Court. What kind of leadership says the order is illegal and Palm is destroying Wisconsin and then says but wait six days before you stop the plan?
This duplicitous maneuver was rejected. The Supreme Court effectively said “You petitioners said it was broken and harmful. Why wait?”
The Republican leadership merely wants the ability to say No. It is power. Adolescent power to say no to the things they don’t like. That is not caring for the people. It is taking care of oneself.
XXX, you are still my guy. You are a good person and we need good people in government.
Please do not say things like “At the entrance of the Governor’s Conference Room in the Capitol, the ceiling is painted with the motto “The will of the people is the law of the land.” It’s time Governor Evers understands what that truly means.”
This wasn’t about the will of the people. It was about the will of the Republican Party being thwarted by state law.
The evidence is clear.
I apologize for using the inclusive “you” in my email… I did not intend to direct personal responsibility to you for the consequences of breaking the table to take a seat.
It is clear Republican leadership broke a working process that not only flattened the curve but had placed Wisconsin in a very favorable position for re-opening.
The results of breaking that process will be evident in the next two weeks. The Republican Party will have some explaining to do about “unintended consequences.”
Hopefully, there is a skilled carpenter who can create a new table.

COVID Emails With My State Rep

As you may have read in earlier posts, I was irritated my State Rep had brought partisan politics into a pandemic. I admire my State Rep and do not wish him ill.

It buggers me completely why elected officials  BETWEEN elections. Is there some reason why they feel compelled to shove Party politics into everything he talks or writes about? Can’t they simply be EVERYONE’s State Representative in his District?

You can imagine my reaction when my State Rep sent out his monthly newsletter to me and said this:

“Right now the legislature is reaching out to the Governor once again, to ask him to negotiate with us on setting some new parameters. Unfortunately, Governor Evers wanted to wait until after the Supreme Court decision.”

I expressed my displeasure with the tone of that paragraph. The Wisconsin Supreme Court had ruled the StayAtHome order invalid and the leadership of the legislature did not have a plan to replace it. The leadership had three weeks inbetween to prepare something but didn’t.

As you can see, my State Rep’s tone shifted from language like:

“He must tell us what statistics he is using to measure our progress and decide what actions to take…He must tell us what actions his Department of Health Services (DHS) is taking proactively to reduce the harm of this pandemic…He must explain why he is refusing to re-examine what kinds of businesses must stay closed and how he is making those decisions…He must explain what he plans to do with the approximately $2.2 billion that Wisconsin will receive from the federal government’s stimulus package.”

The tone shifted from knowing to doing. From “tell us” to one of “to ask him to negotiate with us on setting some new parameters.

It’s obvious this lawsuit was no longer about keeping the legislature informed but it was really about giving the legislature a political position to negotiate the pandemic response. The authority and responsibility for public health crisis is spelled out in Wisconsin Statute 252 on Communicable Disease. It is all on the Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Health Services.

My State Rep is disingenuous when saying “ask him to negotiate”. In fact the lawsuit accuses the Executive branch of government in this way:

“Purporting to act under color of State law, an unelected, unconfirmed cabinet secretary has laid claim to a suite of czar-like powers—unlimited in scope and indefinite in duration—over the people of Wisconsin,” reads the GOP complaint. “Per her decree, everyone in the State must stay home and most businesses must remain shuttered (with exceptions for activities and companies arbitrarily deemed “essential”).”

The complaint also reads:

“By the time the Secretary sees fit to lift her decree (be it in five weeks or eight months), many Wisconsinites will have lost their jobs, and many companies will have gone under, to say nothing of the Order’s countless other downstream societal effects,” the complaint argues. “Our State will be in shambles.”

Irritated once again, I fired off a second email to my State Rep. As I said, I was irritated by the tone of that paragraph and by the Supreme Court ruling that invalidated the StayAtHome order. (which was in accordance with State Statutes)

I said the following:

You wrote: “Right now the legislature is reaching out to the Governor once again, to ask him to negotiate with us on setting some new parameters. Unfortunately, Governor Evers wanted to wait until after the Supreme Court decision.”
Should we voters infer the Republican Party that said the renewal order was illegal (even though the DHS clearly has the authority to do what it did under Section 252 of the Wis. Statutes),  should we infer the Republican Party does not have a plan to open Wisconsin safely and needs help from the DHS?
Takes balls to muck things up  and then ask for help.
Where’s the Republican Leadership plan for managing the pandemic?
Every COVID case from now on is a result of your support for politicizing the pandemic management.
I might remind you of this as the Wisconsin COVID cases rise in XXX County.
The law was/is clear who has the authority to manage communicable disease outbreaks and Republican leadership had to muck this up by making it political.
I might remind you that you should not fix what ain’t broke. And…You broke it, now You own it.

As you can see, I was irritated at the tone in that paragraph. I placed the blame for future outbreaks of COVID-19 in Wisconsin clearly on Republican leadership.

When the Wisconsin Supreme Court invalidated the StayAt Home order, there was nothing in the legislature to take its place. Shame on the Legislature. Shame on the Supreme Court.

The good people of Wisconsin were abandoned by the Supreme Court and the legislature.

The not-so-good people of Wisconsin celebrated in bars and restaurants and have now become anonymous carriers of COVID-19.

 

Covid Emails with State Rep

My first COVID email to my State Rep was non-partisan. He replied with a partisan email and I was irritated that he did. I sent him the following:

With respect, Representative XXXXX
The moment you used the word “Republican” below, I knew you weren’t on my side. I knew you didn’t care about the people of your District or the State of Wisconsin. Instead you care about your partisanship and you care about making Governor Evers pay politically for his decisions.
I am sick to death of legislators making every damn thing about politics and the optics of a situation. We have a crisis and you put partisanship above leadership. You put partisanship above compassion. You put partisanship above your representation of the common man in your district.
I don’t want you to do anything.Forget my first letter completely. You go do what your handlers want you to do.
I haven’t given up on you yet but every once in a while you might want to nip the Republican hand that feeds you. Remind them you are a Wisconsin dog first and a Republican dog second.
With respect,