Wisconsin is setting all-time records for new COVID-19 cases and reporting one of the highest rates of positive infections in the country. In response, Gov. Evers extended the state mask mandate until late November to stem the spread of a virus that has claimed more than 200,000 American lives – more than the loss of Americans during World War I, Korea and Vietnam combined.
Instead of rallying behind the governor’s efforts – or advancing any other plans to slow the spread – our Wisconsin legislative leadership has indicated that it will spend its valuable time supporting court challenges to the extended mandate.
Our Wisconsin Legislature under the direction of Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has not even recommended that the State Senate or Assembly address the COVID-19 virus, and in fact, the Republican-controlled legislature has not met in session to conduct business since April 14. Legislators are still getting paid, but for the past six months, they have not met to address the spike in COVID-19 cases – or any other issues.
If being a Republican legislator means having to “play to your base” by ignoring one of the most serious medical threats in recent history, then they’ve been a resounding success. If only our Republican-led legislature could have broken with the national leadership and recommended just a small amount of shared sacrifice – that is, wearing a mask in public – instead of pitting those who are trying to protect themselves and others against those who feel their individual choice trumps any interest in the common good.
We have frontline workers risking their lives to save Wisconsin citizens while our legislature, led by Fitzgerald and Vos, are using their leadership positions to help advance court fights that, if successful, will only increase the risks to our valued first responders and medical professionals. One can only hope that a far more caring, compassionate set of legislators will be filling some of those Senate and Assembly seats following the November elections.
Lee Luft, retired Kewaunee County supervisor, District 18