The Quack Science of Robin Vos
He’s “not a doctor,” he says while repeatedly rejecting medical experts amid a deadly pandemic.
Republican Assembly Robin Vos has a bachelor’s degree in political science from UW-Whitewater, where he also studied public relations. He also owns three companies: Whitewater College Rentals, RJV Car Wash and Rojo’s Popcorn. Clearly medicine is not his thing, as he confessed to the New York Times last week.
“I’m not a doctor,” Mr. Vos said. “I don’t give advice to people on how surgery should be done.”
Yet he has taken it upon himself to become the expert on how to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. Vos and Republicans asked Evers to allow people to gather in churches and synagogues for Easter and Passover, even though that would mean people gathering in defiance of the stay at home order, and the governor wisely declined to do so.
Vos and Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald also rejected the state medical experts who advised against holding an in-person election, making Wisconsin the only state not to delay or drastically transform its spring election to avoid exposing people to the deadly virus.
“You are incredibly safe to go out,” Vos advised voters in this state, while wearing full protective gear, including mask, gloves and medical gown, which most voters didn’t have access to. It turned out Vos was wrong, and the medical experts were right. To date, 40 voters in Milwaukee contracted coronavirus and that’s based on the city Health Department’s review of just 30 percent of the data, suggesting that number is likely to rise. And that’s just in the City of Milwaukee.
Yet Vos and Republican legislators continue to set themselves up as amateur scientists who know better than the experts. They have asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to overrule Gov. Evers‘ extension of the “Safer at Home” order though the order follows the guidelines set forth by medical experts in the Trump administration, and is part of a coordinated effort by seven states to follow the best medical advice, including two with Republican governors, Eric Holcomb of Indiana and Mike DeWine of Ohio. Evers’ order was also supported by more than a dozen medical organizations in the state.
Now Vos and Fitzgerald and the Republican party have been encouraging protest rallies objecting to Evers’ order. Vos, in an interview, told the New York Times “It’s not just Republicans” protesting, but “a whole lot of people who own a small businesses and they’re unemployed and there’s no reason they can’t work.”
In an attempt to make the protest look less partisan. Brian Westrate, the treasurer of the Republican Party of Wisconsin, asked protestors to “leave the Trump stuff,” the long guns and Confederate flags at home, to no avail.
The crowd of a few thousand protestors who gathered at the Wisconsin’s State Capitol on Friday were obviously heavily Republican and quite unsafe. “Few in the crowd wore the protective face coverings,” the Times reported. “People stood shoulder-to-shoulder on the grounds of the Capitol… The police stayed at least six feet from protesters, but did not enforce social distancing rules.”
In short, this gathering is just the kind the stay-at-home order is meant to stop, to prevent the disease from spreading. “Robin Vos and Wisconsin Republicans bear personal responsibility for the protests taking place today and the infections that will spread because of them,” Ben Wikler, the chairman of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, declared.
Conservative talk radio host Vicki McKenna, who promoted the rally on her program, told the Times: “You go to central and northern Wisconsin, you have folks who are looking at Milwaukee and saying, ‘We understand that they need help, but why do we have to sacrifice our entire livelihood for them?’”
But the idea is not just to help Milwaukee, but to help central and northern Wisconsin from becoming like Milwaukee or other areas facing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic. Green Bay has now passed Milwaukee in the per-capita level of COVID-19 cases, and across the nation, the 10 places with highest daily average growth in cases in the last week included small towns like Pine Bluff, Arkansas, Marion, Ohio, Albertville, Alabama, Gallup, New Mexico and Goldsboro, North Carolina. Green Bay ranked fourth on the list, with a 34 percent increase in cases.
The stay-at-home order is also meant to help hospitals from being overrun and putting more health care workers’ lives at risk. More than 17 percent of those contracting COVID-19 in the state are health care workers. A counter protest on Friday by some health care workers asked protestors to save lives by going home.
As President Donald Trump and many state Republican leaders like Vos set themselves up as amateur medical experts, the United States has become one of the leading areas for the pandemic with 4 percent of the world’s population and 32 percent of COVID-19 cases, Meanwhile in Australia, under conservative Christian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and in New Zealand, under liberal PM Jacinda Ardern, the pandemic has been flattened and nearly obliterated through leadership where “partisanship recedes, experts lead, and quiet coordination matters more than firing up the base,” the Times has reported.
“This is certainly distinct from the United States,” Dr. Peter Collignon, a physician and professor of microbiology at the Australian National University who has worked for the World Health Organization, told the newspaper. “Here it’s not a time for politics. This is a time for looking at the data and saying let’s do what makes the most sense.”
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