Citizen Action Weekly: There is no pandemic plan for Wisconsin!
Friday, May 15th
Supreme Court Shifts Life & Death Responsibility for Pandemic onto Legislature
What the state now must do to save lives and successfully open the economy is clear: will the GOP Legislature start doing its job?
GOP legislative leaders may think they won a victory this Wednesday in their campaign to strip powers from Governor Evers, but they have actually shifted an immense burden of moral responsibility to themselves. The moral of the story for one Aesop’s fables encapsulates the moment: Be careful what you wish for, less it comes true.
The scientific consensus is overwhelming on how to best save lives, and restore the level of public confidence necessary to safely re-open the economy. Now the leaders of the Legislature have a choice: actually cooperate with Governor Evers to do the hard work of quickly implementing an effective response, or continue their campaign of obstruction and face the moral and political consequences for the human and economic toll.
By their very acts of publicly undermining the Governor’s popular emergency measures, and inducing the Wisconsin Supreme Court majority to render one of the most divisive and nakedly partisan decisions in Wisconsin history, they have made the task harder by prematurely ending state-wide social distancing without any back up plan, and undermining the social unity and commitment to norms necessary to contain a pandemic.
Because the Evers Administration took bold necessary action, and the millions of Wisconsinites who followed the directives voluntarily, no matter what the personal and economic sacrifice, Wisconsin made tremendous progress over the last 6 weeks in reducing the rate of infection. According to the CEO of the Medical College, Wisconsin has the reproduction rate (the number of additional people each Covid positive person infects) down to 1.0, the minimum for moving to more targeted virus containment strategies. But if the reproduction rate increases even slightly, to 1.1 or higher, the virus will within a few weeks begin spreading out of control.
We are in danger of losing all these hard won gains if the Legislature does not immediately fund, to whatever scale is necessary, a robust targeted containment strategy. There is an overwhelming scientific consensus, being pursued by the most effective pandemic responses around the globe, on what must be done to contain the pandemic and safely re-open the economy. There is no choice between public health and the economy. The economy will not bounce back until Wisconsinites feel safe, regardless of what politicians tell them to do.
- Fill the containment gap created by the sudden and premature ending of mandated social distancing with a well resourced and targeted approach that is capable of identifying and isolating new pockets of infection as soon as they emerge. This includes:
- Universal and rapid testing that reaches asymptomatic Wisconsinites and is immediately available in all at risk public and business locations.
- A massive ramp up in contract tracing which means hiring thousands of new public health workers.
- A medical surveillance system capable of rapidly intervening and isolating all of the new hotspots identified through testing and contact tracing.
- Free testing and treatment are a necessity because of cost barriers which are unique to the unique profit-centered American health care system. Without an enforced guarantee of no out of pocket costs, hundreds of thousands of Wisconites will avoid testing and treatment, even if they have COVID-19 symptoms.
- Reinforce the norm of social distancing in all public interactions. In Wisconsin, there is much damage to repair. The mixed messages and the divide and conquer politics must end. GOP leaders must join Governor Evers in reinforcing this social ethic and dispense with their divisive rhetoric of oppression and liberation. The Supreme Court majority did the opposite in their divisive and dog-whistle racism oral arguments.
- Create enforceable safety requirements for all workplaces. Workers cannot be forced to choose between their health and their livelihoods. (The WMC’s preferred voluntary standards will not work, and were immediately violated by some taverns the evening of the Supreme Court ruling)
These core elements of effective and effective pandemic containment are not just Citizen Action’s position, this is an overwhelming consensus of public health experts and responsible elected leaders across the globe. Some of these items will cost money, and if the majority of the Legislature will not invest the necessary resources, whatever it takes, the costs of inaction will be astronomical. The stakes could not be higher as Dr. Rick Bright, the former Director of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority testified in Congress today: “Without clear planning and implementation of the steps that I and other experts have outlined, 2020 will be the darkest winter in modern history.”
Wisconsin has done it before. In 1918, when there were three major parties and as much partisan contention as today, Wisconsinites pulled together to take unified action on the worst pandemic in our history. “Wisconsin was the only state in the nation to meet the crisis with uniform, statewide measures that were unusual both for their aggressiveness and the public’s willingness to comply with them.”
“We have entered a season of consequences. In a pandemic success depends on elected leaders putting aside the divisions of normal politics and pulling together to take effective and decisive action,” said Robert Kraig, Executive Director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin. “The GOP leadership of the Legislature got what it wanted, and stripped the Governor of much of his power to lead in this crisis. The onus of responsibility now falls squarely on their shoulders. It is our hope that they will elevate their leadership to the demands of the challenge we face, and work in concert with Governor Evers to do not what is politically convenient but what is required to save lives.”
See Citizen Action response to Wisconsin Supreme Court decision here.
Citizen Action case for free COVID 19 testing and treatment here.
“Supreme Chaos” Battleground Wisconsin Podcast
We review this week’s lawless and partisan Supreme Court decision overturning Governor Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order and throwing Wisconsin into chaos. We discuss how local governments and their health departments are responding to protect people in their communities and why pressure must now be placed on Republican state legislators to fix their public health disaster. We talk about the new Marquette Law Poll which finds the presidential race in Wisconsin within the margin of error, and partisanship trumping facts in public perception of the pandemic. We also thank Citizen Action co-op member Tricia Zunker for running a strong race in the 7th Congressional District special election and out performing the district in the face of a massive infusion of right-wing cash for her opponent.
Citizen Action Wisconsin is helping protect paychecks & prevent layoffs
Citizen Action has been working hard to offer support to employees and employers through Wisconsin’s unique work sharing program. Work sharing was a program the state of Wisconsin started after the nation’s last recession in 2008. This program allows employers to reduce hours of two or more staff members while letting those employees collect unemployment.
Employees using work sharing are able to work fewer hours, stay on their health insurance and collect unemployment. Employees are also able to collect the $600 a week federal unemployment passed by Congress as part of the CARES act.
As part of our COVID19 relief efforts Citizen Action of Wisconsin has been helping sign up businesses to take part in this program. We has signed up around 20 businesses across the state. Some of the businesses and non profits we have helped include UW-L Athletic system, the City of Milwaukee Park Department, the La Crosse YWCA and many more.
We have been working with a statewide network of Citizen Action members to get the word out and help as many businesses as possible. Our statewide action team is meeting every Thursday from 4:00 to 5:30.
If you know any businesses or employees who could be helped by this program please join us for our weekly team meetings hosted over Zoom. You can RSVP to join us using this link. RSVP is required to join.
Addressing Climate & Equity through our Food System
Thursday, May 21st, 6 PM – 7 PM
Join us for a panel discussion to inform citizens and the Milwaukee City-County Task Force on Climate and Economic Equity. The Task Force, created by our Milwaukee City and County governments, will address the inequities in our community with changes that need to be made to address climate change.
- Bruce Wiggins: City Planner (Retired) – Moderator
- Deneine Powell: Executive Director, Groundwork Milwaukee
- David Johnson, MUP: Urban Farmer – Cream City Farms
- Sylvia N. Wilson, PhD: Program Director, Teens Grow Greens
Panel members will help us explore:
– How does our food system promote climate change?
– How do we change our food system to mitigate climate change?
– What are the food inequities in Milwaukee?
– How do racial and economic inequalities affect health and access to healthy food?
– What can be done to address food insecurity and promote access to healthy food in Milwaukee?
RSVP and register for this event.
For more information check out the facebook event page.
Help Brown County Residents Now!
Brown County has quickly become a center for COVID-19 in Wisconsin. As of Thursday, May 15th the county health department has reported almost 2000 confirmed COVID cases, trailing only Milwaukee County. Even in the midst of this outbreak, organizations like We All Rise African American Resource Center and Casa ALBA Melanie have been serving our black and brown community in Green Bay.
Last Saturday, the Northeast Citizen Action of Wisconsin co-op hosted a COVID-19 relief discussion with several progressive organizations in the Greater Brown County Area.
If you are looking to help support directly impacted communities and have the means to do so, we encourage you to start here:
We All Rise African American Resource Center- Green Bay
The center desires to meet the basic needs of clients while providing a comprehensive set of healing services for our African American community members at no cost to them. Their doors have stayed open during the duration of shelter-in-place and they can use your support. If you can, please support them by donating essential items! You can also donate by visiting their wishlist! You can also support their work financially by visiting https://bit.ly/3fA8s54.
If you have questions about the center or how you can help, contact Rachel Westenberg at [email protected].
Casa ALBA Melanie- Green Bay
Casa ALBA Melanie is the Hispanic Resource Center of the greater Green Bay area. Our mission is to nurture the well-being and wholesome development of all members of the Hispanic community living in the region. You can learn how you can support their work directly by visiting https://www.casaalba.org/how-to-help.html and by following their COVID updates here.
Northwestern WI Co-op Host’s First “Kitchen Table Conversation on May 14th
Dr. Rita Simon, Steering Committee Chair and member-leader of the Healthcare Issue team, hosted the co-op’s first “Kitchen Table Conversation.” This event’s topic was about the immediate action we can take around healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr. Simon shared a powerpoint, video, and information regarding the benefits of Medicare for All during this time of crisis. These events are made for members to invite friends and family interested in the topic to learn more about what they can do to organize and how to get involved with Citizen Action.
Contact [email protected] if you’re interested in hosting your own!
Healthcare Co-Op Joins Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul to Defend the ACA
Healthcare Co-Op leader, Zena Blom has personal reasons to defend the ACA but she didn’t just decide to speak out publicly for herself, she was thinking of others who might come after her. People forget what was life before the ACA but if you were personally helped by its passage, you never forget.
Zena testified about one of the most popular features of the ACA which is pre-existing condition protection. Insurance companies used to be able to pick winners and losers in their insurance pool and if you were a person living with any kind of condition or precarious health issue, you were a loser and couldn’t obtain coverage. That changed with the ACA and not only did it change lives, it saved lives and we are not going back.
Recently, President Trump doubled down on his support for the Texas lawsuit which would rip coverage away from 20 million and eliminate Medicaid expansion in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. This just can’t happen and everyday Americans are speaking out about it. If you want to be more involved please join the Co-Op, your voice is exactly what is needed.
Facebook post of the week