/ Letters / Gobsmacked!


April 19, 2020

To the Editor:

Surprised, not really, leave it to the two self-styled guardians of ideology Richard Moore and Gregg Walker to find fault and nitpick the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services Emergency Order #12 in their Our View, “Right now, a time for shared sacrifice” piece.

Their complaint — “Our political leaders are not asking for shared sacrifice. Instead, at least so far, they are picking winners and losers. With their lockdown edicts, Gov. Tony Evers and other governors have eviscerated the nation’s economy. Already massive layoffs have driven unemployment claims to record highs. Our governor and other governors have compelled millions to lose their jobs because of forced closures of so-called non-essential businesses, but so far, the vast majority of government actions related to public employees has been to protect them from any harm.”

I ask did Moore and Walker actually read Emergency Order #12? Just some background. There are reasons this virus is so virulent and deadly, the rate of infection increasing at an exponential rate. We have no “herd” immunity, there is no vaccine for it, and there is no current proven, effective medication which can be used. The only action we can take is mitigation or social distancing — isolate or stay 6 feet away from each other.

Recognizing this fact the governor along with Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm issued Emergency Order #12 and attempted to define essential services. But, this was not good enough for the duo of Moore and Walker. After all, never let a serious crisis go to waste (when you can use it for political points).

As many as 2.2 million people in the U.S. are now predicted to die from COVID-19 without mitigation. However, according to an analysis that the White House itself is now using to guide its response, death tolls will be curbed dramatically if the shutdown continues. Consequently, the White House is recommending that social distancing continue until at least April 30. But, still as many as 240,000 people are still predicted to die, even with shutdowns and stay-at-home orders. Even President Donald Trump who had previously said he wanted to reopen parts of the economy by Easter changed his mind when he reviewed the trove of data about deaths from the coronavirus. Dr. Deborah Birx said the data she presented that projected as many as 240,000 people could die was assembled by “five or six international and domestic modelers,” citing Harvard University, Columbia University, Northeastern University, and Imperial College London. Dr. Birx the White House coronavirus response coordinator stated “It was their model that created the ability to see what these mitigations could do — how steeply they could depress the curve.” Since the novel coronavirus was first detected in the U.S. on Jan. 20, it has spread to at least 216,515 people in the U.S. and there have been 5,119 deaths.

So, exactly what would opinion experts Moore and Walker have Gov. Tony Evers do to quell this pandemic? Well, they don’t have a solution except “all nonessential public employees must be laid off or furloughed” because in their opinion the biggest loser is the private sector, while the public sector is skating away. I don’t know that “skating away” is the phrase I would use when a public employee is required to show up for work and take the chance of contracting the virus and dying. That seems to be a Morton’s Fork and not exactly “... protecting them from any harm.” In addition, the public sector employees that continue to hold their jobs won’t be entitled to all of the benefits of the stimulus package. Also, one would have to ask Moore and Walker to precisely identify which government employees would be considered non-essential. Again, let me reiterate “never let a serious crisis go to waste” (when you can use it for political points).

In reading Emergency Order #12 besides the 2 page listing of essential businesses there is a provision for exceptions — “In the exceptional circumstance that a business is performing essential functions not included in these approved categories, it may request to be designated as essential by submitting the following form to the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.”

Here is an idea. How about doing some in depth investigative reporting on why the delay by the President in taking this threat seriously. Or why there is equipment and supplies needed but not available such as N95 and surgical masks, PPE items such as eye protection, gowns, aprons, gloves, shoe covers/booties, and Tyvek suits, as well as disinfectant sprays/wipes, hand sanitizer, digital/no-touch thermometers, portable hospital beds, portable showers, hand washing stations, anti-bacterial soap, bleach, food prep supplies, medical refuse bags, and replacement filters for filtering devices. And of course those test kits promised, but unavailable, or restricted to a doctor’s OK or missing key components or an endless wait for results. Or the scandals that are erupting where company’s are selling needed equipment on the open global market. Or the favoritism in the sending of needed supplies to certain states “that treat us nice.”

John Kocovsky




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