Tom Nelson
Op Ed

Ron Johnson Is Not Helping

Action is needed on virus and we’re taking it in Wisconsin. Johnson’s comments insult our efforts.

By - Mar 21st, 2020 11:59 am
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Ron Johnson

Ron Johnson

“Right now, all people are hearing about are the deaths. I’m sure the deaths are horrific, but the flip side of this is the vast majority of people who get Coronavirus do survive.”

Comments like these are found all over the internet; they are not helpful and insult those who are working around the clock – like the staff of Outagamie County – to limit the spread of COVID-19. But this comment is not from a chat-room conspirator or fringe skeptic. This is from the mouth of U.S. Senator Ron Johnson.

Anyone who’s seen Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 film, Dr. Strangelove, remembers the scene where an unhinged military chief—General Buck Turgidson—counsels the President in favor of a pre-emptive nuclear strike. Turgidson’s argument echoes Senator Johnson’s indifference:

“Mr. President, I’m not saying we wouldn’t get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks.”

It’s great cinema, but as real-world policy, it’s insane.

In just over a week, Wisconsin went from two reported cases of coronavirus to more than 100.  That’s sobering, but it represents only the beginning. We’re at an inflection point that can mean the difference between outbreak and pandemic.

And yet, since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Johnson and members of his party have attempted to spin the threat as anything but a health emergency. Indeed, the President has tried to distract us with dismissive comments and inane tweets. Someone should tell him the coronavirus doesn’t follow him on Twitter.

In Outagamie County, we took immediate action.  We reduced operations to essential services, and we are scrupulously following CDC guidelines. Johnson may not be on the ball, but local government is. Earlier this week, Mayor Tom Barrett and I co-facilitated a statewide call with local officials – those on the front lines fighting COVID-19 daily. It was clear what our communities need: test kits, greater capacity for our health systems, federal resources and support from our state and federal legislators.

Senator Johnson needs to catch up to the science, take this problem seriously and limit cameo appearances, lest someone mistake him for General Turgidson.

Tom Nelson is the Outagamie County Executive.

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More about the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Categories: Health, Op-Ed, Politics

One thought on “Op Ed: Ron Johnson Is Not Helping”

  1. Trmott says:

    Governor Cuomo: “Many will get infected but few will pass way from this disease”.

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