Ruth Conniff

Pence Visits State Amid Criticism

"No national plan,” Wisconsin still lacks COVID-19 supplies, Democrats charge.

By , Wisconsin Examiner - Apr 21st, 2020 11:32 am
Mike Pence. Photo is in the Public Domain.

Mike Pence. Photo is in the Public Domain.

As Vice President Mike Pence arrives in Madison Tuesday for a tour of the local GE Healthcare manufacturing facility that makes ventilators, followed by a roundtable discussion that is closed to the public, three Wisconsin Democrats are sending a letter to President Donald Trump demanding a more coherent federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At present, no national plan exists from your White House to provide our state with the resources and supplies we need to conduct widespread testing to identify those who are infected, isolate positive cases, and safely trace all contacts so the spread of this virus can be contained,” write Sen. Tammy Baldwin, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Black Earth) and Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Milwaukee).

The letter cites PPE shortages and news reports about 1,000 N-95 masks that were ordered by the Brown County Sherriff’s Department and the Green Bay Police Department, then intercepted by FEMA and taken away.

“This undermines our efforts to respond to this pandemic, and there is now an explosion of COVID-19 cases in the Green Bay area, with the number of cases in Brown County having increased more than fourfold in just 10 days,” the legislators write.

Decrying the way the federal government has pitted states against each other to bid on critical supplies during the pandemic, Baldwin, Pocan and Moore state that supplies are being provided to private vendors, not state or local governments or healthcare providers, with no transparency and further reports of diversions. “Wisconsin still lacks the supplies needed from the federal government to scale up testing,” they add.

“Without broad-based testing, we are left in the dark,” the legislators write. “Experts have suggested that we need at least 500,000 tests per day to begin reopening parts of the economy by mid-May.  On April 19, 2020, Vice President Pence stated that the United States was conducting approximately 150,000 tests per day. This is unacceptable. Liberating our country from this pandemic and moving our economy forward requires you to lead with a national testing plan and the supplies to implement it. This public health and economic crisis demands leadership from the White House, and Wisconsin families and businesses are waiting on you to provide it.”

Reprinted with permission of Wisconsin Examiner.

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