Tony Evers Plays Mr. Rogers
Governor handles pandemic and Supreme Court loss with nice guy concerns for our health.
Less than 24 hours after four Supreme Court justices threw out his statewide Safer at Home order, the former Baraboo science teacher was at an online blackboard.
“Stay the course and stay home,” Democratic Gov. Tony Evers declared during the 24th briefing by him, leaders of the state Health Services and Military Affairs departments and the governor’s chief lawyer. They explained what state government is doing to fight the deadly COVID-19 virus and how residents can help.
Be careful, Wisconsin, the first-term governor advised business leaders, their workers and everyone thinking about going to public places they haven’t been to in about two months. “This is certain: The more people you put in a small place, the greater the chances are you’re going to get the disease.”
The briefings are informative and folksy, a combination of Meet the Press and Evers as Mr. Rogers.
“It was a wrong decision,” Evers said. “We understand; we lost this. That said, we’re moving forward.”
The two top Republicans — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald — are “okay with having confusion,” as some communities adopt their own Safer at Home codes while others allow businesses to reopen, the governor added.
It takes a lot to make him mad, said the former teacher and state superintendent of public instruction. But Republican Sen. Tom Tiffany’s call for the firing of state Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm was “insane.”
“You just won an election. Just relax,” Evers admonished Tiffany, who won Tuesday’s special election in northwest Wisconsin’s 7th U.S. House District. “You’re headed to Washington. I know you are better than this.”
Although the Supreme Court ruled that Palm’s Safer at Home order — issued at the request of Evers — was illegal, Palm has spent months doing all she can to “save lives,” Evers added.
Evers used Thursday’s online briefing to explain what his administration must continue to do: Hire more contact tracers statewide, ensure there are enough labs checking test results, make sure anyone wanting a test can get one, raise the testing capacity to 13,300 per day, use National Guard members as needed, and continue to tally the number of positive and negative tests and deaths.
These efforts are more important than ever, since the court erased state government’s enforcement power, Evers said.
To his credit, Evers has led most of the briefings. Numbers and technical questions — numbers of daily tests, positives and negatives; numbers of deaths and the role of antibody testing, for example — are answered by Palm and DHS medical officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard.
Legal questions are answered by Ryan Nilsestuen, the governor’s chief counsel.
Evers style is anti-Andrew Cuomo, the brash, bullying Democratic governor of the State of New York who cited soaring COVID-19 infection and death rates to shame the nation into responding. The Wisconsin briefings end with the four officials taking questions for up to an hour from reporters for media organizations that have ranged from NBC News to the online Racine County Eye. Admirably, the briefings don’t end until all reporters get a chance to ask a question.
Questions ranged from when will bars and restaurants could reopen — which was asked twice in a row last week by different reporters — to how Evers is dealing with not getting a haircut, since barber shops and styling salons have been closed for two months.
“Get up every morning, wash my hair, comb it, go to work,” the governor said.
What might the now longer-haired governor say at a future briefing? Oh, maybe something like this:
“Folks, stay home. You’re saving lives. We will get through this. The Milwaukee Bucks might get a chance at that NBA championship. And, we hope we can watch the Brewers — although maybe online — by July…. And, won’t you be my neighbor?”
If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.
- Transportation: Bus Capacity Increasing to 15 - Graham Kilmer - Aug 13th, 2020
- UWM Professor Studying How To Improve Pandemic Communication - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 13th, 2020
- WI Daily: COVID-19 Testing Hits Month Low - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 13th, 2020
- Gov. Evers Announces Launch of COVID-19 Response and Recovery Investment Dashboard - Gov. Tony Evers - Aug 13th, 2020
- Pandemic Aid Programs Are Failing Us - Princess Safiya Byers - Aug 13th, 2020
- Baldwin Rebukes Trump Admin Over Testing Shortages - Erik Gunn - Aug 13th, 2020
- GOP Hasn’t Interfered With Mask Mandate - Shawn Johnson - Aug 13th, 2020
- WI Daily: COVID-19 Spreading Faster in Waukesha County Than Milwaukee - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 12th, 2020
- Trump Directives Fall Flat in Wisconsin - Erik Gunn - Aug 12th, 2020
- City of Milwaukee Announces $15 Million in CARES Act Funding for Rent Support and Assistance - Mayor Tom Barrett - Aug 12th, 2020
Read more about Coronavirus Pandemic here