Two very different images have emerged over the past few days in Wisconsin, as competing voices are elevated about the pandemic which we are confronting, and the timetable for how to reopen businesses and bring workers back to stores and factories.
One image showcases leadership and resolve as Governor Tony Evers uses data to stem the march of the virus, and create a process for how the state’s economy is ‘opened up’.
The second image is of the protesters who walked around the statehouse this weekend, many without regard to the advice provided from the medical community about self-distancing and wearing masks when in public. There was also, at times, an-in-your-face all-out disdain shown for facts and science regarding the deadliness of the virus, and why governmental measures were taken for the best interests of all the citizenry. It was disheartening to see sections of the populace so untethered from medical reasoning.
At times it appears that those who wish to see businesses reopen at once seem to think Evers has shut down the state for spite or that it was an easy choice to make. Obviously, neither is true. Actions taken by Evers were designed, after consultation with professionals, to decrease the number of COVID-19 cases, and not overwhelm our state’s healthcare system. Would anyone have actually preferred the opposite?
A plan was outlined and made public by Evers Monday which moves our state towards reopening businesses and uses much-publicized federal guidelines to do so. By now every American can recite in their sleep–thanks to non-stop coverage by news outlets–details concerning testing, tracking, and tracing of this virus.
As such, state health officials are setting a goal of 85,000 COVID-19 tests per week, averaging roughly 12,000 tests per day. In addition to expanded testing, health officials will be increasing contact tracing in an effort to track the spread of the coronavirus. That is a most critical aspect of the plan.
This testing regiment is an essential step to take so to allow for faith to be created in workers about the safety of heading back to the workplace, and for customers who at some point will start to head to restaurants and movie theaters. Without broad-based testing and the data which will result, there is no way for the economy to be lifted up in a manner that is very much needed.
Like other governors around the nation have stated, it is essential that one hurdle needs to be cleared before any opening can occur. Evers underscored the same point with his intentions to first see a 14-day downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses and COVID-19 symptoms being reported before the process of opening Wisconsin will commence.
Protecting the workers is a requirement that Evers must concentrate upon. To achieve that end he must continue to act in a data-driven and methodical fashion. Evers must not relent in acting based on what evidence requires, regardless of what those who shout the loudest demand.
I would much enjoy seeing how many of those who marched this weekend demanding “liberty” and “freedom” or plan to do so this week, will react to the new world they will enter when once again they go back to work. Just like how airports greatly beefed up security after 9/11, the post-pandemic workplace will require many adjustments for employees. There will be some who now work from home, others who will be detailed for the deep cleanings that must now take place, along with the creation of barriers among workers. Washing hands will be mandated, along with the wearing of masks in certain workplaces. What some refused to do for safety when protesting will be demanded by their bosses in order to get a paycheck.
We often ask ourselves at election time which candidate we would rather have a beer with if given a chance. Over the past several days I have thought about that notion in a different way as the fury escalates about when workers will again have an opportunity to head back to their jobs
Who would I rather have at the helm if aboard a ship with inhospitable weather? Someone with a military-type weapon, flags of all types and signs about “tyranny”, or a data-driven, reflective, and conscientious person?
The test of any elected official arrives when needing to confront a crisis. The mettle of an elected person is demonstrated by how they navigate through the storm. We have seen Evers demonstrate his capacity to amass facts about the virus and put forth a state-wide strategy: first to make sure citizens were safe, and now to outline a process for opening businesses.
Tony Evers makes a good captain when we need one the most.