There are two questions Gov. Evers, Milwaukee Public School leaders, and everyone else who is terrified of the virus need to answer.
One, how low? And two, how long?
Gov. Evers ratcheted-up his attempt to control the spread of the coronavirus by ordering a hard cap on bars, restaurants, and most stores in Wisconsin. Starting this morning, they are limited to just 25% of capacity. MPS yesterday said it will keep students learning from home for the foreseeable future because of the coronavirus.
Team-virus scaredy-cats and ninnies yesterday also cheered the opening of that National Guard hospital at the State Fairgrounds, and breathlessly complained that Republican lawmakers want to check the governor’s power.
So far, all of the focus on the coronavirus in Wisconsin has been reactionary. Someone gets sick, the state responds. More people get sick, the state responds again. That is unavoidable to a certain degree. No one knows the future, we can only guess at what may happen. But reacting always leaves you one step behind. And making decisions out of fear always leaves you on your back foot. That is why the governor needs to answer those two very basic questions.
How low? How low do the coronavirus numbers need to go before we can get back to normal? How low do the numbers have to be to begin to get back to normal?
The reality is, we are likely always going to have some people who test positive or are infected with the coronavirus. It’s a virus afterall. The one thing that the coronavirus has shown is that lockdowns, masks, and closures don’t stop the spread. Gov. Evers has tried to lockdown Wisconsin in one way or another since March. The coronavirus numbers have only increased.
If all of the orders and closures and limits worked, Wisconsin (along with New York, Illinois, and California) would be almost entirely coronavirus free. By the same logic South Dakota would look like the Walking Dead.
If we are never going to get to zero, and we are not, then how low do we need to go? One case? One hundred cases? Ten people in the hospital? ‘Only’ 100 positive tests? Gov. Evers has tried to find the numbers that back-up his fear about the virus. We’ve looked at percentages, and spikes, and hospitalizations. The reality is that almost 99 percent of people who come down with coronavirus will get better. Most in just a few days or weeks, and the overwhelming majority of those people will never need to go to the hospital.
There are 6.5 million people in Wisconsin. That a few hundred are in the hospital with the virus is something we should note, but not something that we should shut down the state over. If Gov. Evers, the scaredy-cats, or the ninnies can just accept that there will never be a time with zero coronavirus cases, we can have a conversation about how many cases are acceptable.
Two, how long? It is October. We were told we needed two weeks to bend the curve back in March. That is eight months and counting. The CDC is already suggesting against Thanksgiving, and a number of schools are saying they won’t come back to class till January. At the earliest.
We need to have an honest discussion about how long we are going to keep things closed, sacrifice the here and how for a possible future, and how long we are going to disrupt millions of lives. Again, if we are waiting for zero cases then we will be waiting forever.
The Green Bay Packers said they will not allow fans in Lambeau til the coronavirus numbers in and around Brown County drop. There are only eight home games in Green Bay. Each is worth about $15 million to the city and county. How long are they expected to go without? Public schools in Wisconsin have, by and large, been canceled since last spring. Online learning for many kids doesn’t work. Whether its technical glitches or the reality that kids learn better in school, students have already lost a year of schooling. For high schoolers that’s 25 percent of their time. How long do we keep them home? Gov. Evers said this week that he needs bars, restaurants, and stores to hang in there a little longer to help slow the coronavirus. But bars, restaurants, stores, and the people who own them say they won’t make it six months without a turnaround. The Wisconsin Restaurant Association said half of new restaurants will close under the governor’s latest crowd limit order that lasts for the next month.
At some point, someone is going to have to put an end to this suffering. We are going to have to stop lying to ourselves that in two more weeks, or one more month that the coronavirus is going to just go away.
I heard it put that the coronavirus is like gravity. It just is. You may not like it, but you cannot escape it. Instead of trying to control and contort it, we just need to accept it. Instead of wasting time trying to change our behavior or trying to change the virus, we need to have a plan to deal with the virus going forward.
Answer the two questions, honestly. Then we can start to form a plan. And that can lead us out of this.
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