Op Ed

Demand a Joint Vos and Evers Virus Plan

Stop playing politics. Pass a pandemic plan with wide scale testing, rigorous tracing.

By - Oct 18th, 2020 05:06 pm
Tony Evers and Robin Vos.

Tony Evers and Robin Vos.

If ever there were a compelling reason for Americans of all stripes and groupings to come together for the good of the country, it’s the battle against the novel coronavirus COVID-19. To be effective, it has to be a united front.

So how did it get so partisan? Public health issues usually find a compromise approach.

In absence of common ground in Wisconsin, the spread of the virus has escalated to very scary proportions – close to 3,000 new positive cases per day in the state alone.

A national map of the red-colored virus spread in the New York Times makes Wisconsin look like a nosebleed, the reddest patch in the country. Northeastern Wisconsin has the worst hemorrhage of positive cases and hospitalizations, but Southeastern Wisconsin is not far behind. It’s deadly and it’s embarrassing.

There is no escape from the conclusion that our public officials failed in their leadership, from the White House to the statehouse down to local government.

Some have argued that the economy has to stay wide open for the sake of jobs, but anyone in business knows that getting the virus under control is job one for keeping our businesses open. It’s the infection that’s devastating businesses, not government mandates.

Leaders in other states and communities have developed consensus plans for masks, testing and tracing, and they are working far better than the absence of plans in Wisconsin.

The GOP plan in Wisconsin is to run to the courts and block what Gov. Tony Evers is trying to do. On the Democratic side Evers’ plans have been a sledgehammer when a hammer would do. There is a consensus answer in between.

Here’s an idea for a mandate that makes sense from a pragmatic point of view. Pass a law that requires the governor and Speaker Robin Vos to lock themselves and their top aides in a room and don’t let them out until they have a funded plan for wide scale testing of every citizen, rigorous tracing, along with massive education for virus hygiene.

Businesspeople like me are getting downright angry that they haven’t pulled together to mitigate the damage to the economy, to education at all levels and to our businesses.

We can’t wait for herd immunity in 2021 or beyond. We can’t wait for a vaccine. We need to put a tourniquet on the health and economic devastation now. Nor can we waste time and energy standing on principle. We wear mandated seat belts when driving. We wear mandated orange when deer hunting. We wear mandated personal flotation jackets when boating.

To save our businesses from bankruptcy, most businesses already mandate masks to prevent viral spread. We don’t need our community leaders under-cutting those tough company policies by suggesting it’s up to individuals to decide. Community rights must trump individual rights in a major crisis.

Wisconsin is near the bottom in terms of controlling the pandemic. It should be near the top. We need concerted and consensual leadership.

Call a special session of the legislature to get it done.

John Torinus is the chairman of Serigraph Inc. and a former Milwaukee Sentinel business editor who blogs regularly at johntorinus.com.

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Categories: Health, Op-Ed, Politics

8 thoughts on “Op Ed: Demand a Joint Vos and Evers Virus Plan”

  1. GBJames says:

    Torinus seems to have a bad case of both-sides-ism. While the Governor has made every effort reduce the spread of this virus the GOP leadership has consistently refused to do anything at all. Special sessions have been called by the governor only to be gaveled to conclusion within minutes. Torinus’ idea, to pass a law that requires the governor and Speaker Robin Vos to lock themselves in a room, is silly beyond words. The only thing that will change things will be removal of sufficient Republican politicians from office to allow responsible adults to again run the legislature. Is Torinus working on that? Because he’s right about the consequences to Wisconsin businesses if we continue down the path we’re on.

  2. mkwagner says:

    Explain to me how extending the mask mandate, a move supported by 60%+ of Wisconsinites is using a sledgehammer? What about the Badger Bounce Back program was sledgehammerish?
    You ask how Wisconsin got to this level of partisan discord? Look back over the last 10 years. From the secret gerrymander map; to Act10; to the 2018 lame duck laws; to the 3 special sessions called by Evers to address the covid crisis, only to be gaveled over within minutes by Vos and Fitzgerald; th the Republican party has chosen ideology over governance. They have chosen to accede to the will of their wealthy donors rather than the will of Wisconsinites. Wisconsinites are getting sick and dying in record numbers because the Republicans are no longer representatives of the people of Wisconsin. Vos and Fitzgerald would rather Wisconsin residents die of covid-19 than they do anything that might suggest they would work with Democrats.

  3. frank a schneiger says:

    So let’s see if we’ve got this straight. Both Republicans and Democrats are at fault for the fact that the pandemic is raging in Wisconsin. According to John Torinus, Governor Evers has used a “sledgehammer” for a problem best solved with a regular hammer. That sledgehammer has consisted of social distancing, masks, testing and contact tracing, which seem to be exactly the things that Mr. Torinus says – correctly – are needed to get the pandemic under control. Some sledgehammer.

    By way of contrast, but also culpable in Mr. Torinus – both sides are at fault – view, are the Republicans, put into office with the overwhelming support of the businesspeople who, according to Mr. Torinus, are now “downright angry.” The Republican response, led by the followers of Donald Trump, including those now “downright angry” businesspeople, has been that (1) masks and social distancing are bs, for wimps, “liberal” bs, and a sign of tyranny on the march; (2) that testing will just find more cases; (3) that, as their president said on Sunday, science is bs; listen to him and Dr. Atlas; (4) states must “open” their economies, whatever that means and whatever the cost; and (5) as Senator Johnson has so plainly – and immorally – put it: don’t worry, the only ones who will die are “the others,” the surplus populations. There will always be lots more where they came from.

    Rather than a special session of the legislature, a better solution might be for Mr. Torinus to bring together his business colleagues and try to convince them to stop supporting and financing people like Trump, Johnson, Walker, Vos, Fitzgerald and the others if they want real action to stem the pandemic. Sending that message will be a lot more effective than putting the Governor in a room with some of the most destructive people in public life in this country, and trying to find a way to split the difference, when there is no difference splitting to be had.

  4. Alan Bartelme says:

    The legislature has been very clear they will do the opposite of whatever Governor Evers proposes. Put the blame on them where it belongs – they haven’t proposed any solutions of their own. If they have proposals, then please share so we can have a debate. The legislature instead has decided to take a 6 month vacation with pay while people die, businesses close, and the bills pile up. How can the legislature claim any authority when they clearly don’t care about the state?

  5. weitenma83 says:

    Mr. Torinus needs to convince WMC, the state business org (lobby), too speak out. That’s about the only thing that will make the legislature listen.

  6. dk mke says:

    I have never been so impressed by a comment section. These are all perfectly stated. And just for fun, let’s re-amplify this one:

    “Rather than a special session of the legislature, a better solution might be for Mr. Torinus to bring together his business colleagues and try to convince them to stop supporting and financing people like Trump, Johnson, Walker, Vos, Fitzgerald and the others if they want real action to stem the pandemic. “

  7. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    It’s funny how Republican oligarch John Torinus trues to “both sides” this situation so he can seem to be “above the fray.”

    The Republicans haven’t done ONE THING to try to fight COVID for 6 months, and after Evers steps up to act, WISGOP’s only actions are to run to the courts (at taxpayer expense) to try to strike it down.

    Sorry Johnny. The only way this improves in the next few months is if you and others living in red areas VOTE THE GOP OUT. Stop your complaining, stop counting your money for 5 minutes, and do your part.

  8. Jake formerly of the LP says:

    PS- Evers has called several special sessions of the Legislature to try to get them to step up. Vos/Fitz gaveked in and gaveled out of all of them in less than a minute.

    Nice try, Johnny.

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