Over the past two days, the state legislature has passed a COVID-19 bill intended to disburse resources through Wisconsin to battle the viral pandemic. Although there was strong bipartisan support for the bill, many on the Democratic side of the aisle felt is was only a beginning and needed expansion. There was also criticism that the legislature had taken so long to convene in an extraordinary session and act. Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) released a statement that said, in part:

On March 13th , I made an initial request that the Wisconsin State Legislature take up a special session to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Understanding both the obvious and unintended consequences of policy decisions to minimize the social spread of Coronavirus, we should have met sooner. Yet, over a month later, here we stand. To say, that I am frustrated at the cavalier attitude that some of my Republican colleagues have displayed throughout this public health emergency, is the understatement of the year. 

A statement from Senator Patty Schachtner (D - Somerset) found the legislation lacking, stating

Legislative leadership rejected the proposals from Governor Tony Evers that had been crafted with input from those folks, like me, that are working to combat this pandemic on the ground. I voted to take this first step forward, but it is clear that Senate Bill 932 does not go far enough.

This bill doesn’t include any funding for food banks or emergency food delivery programs. It doesn’t make sure your health insurer covers telehealth services. It doesn’t provide emergency assistance to our local governments. It doesn’t support child care for front line workers. It doesn’t expand programs to support farmers and other small businesses. It doesn’t even expand broadband for rural communities at a time when we need access to information more than ever. This bill cannot be the end of our state’s response, because the difficulties facing the people of Wisconsin certainly haven’t gone away.

I will keep fighting for our farmers that are facing the possibility of dumping milk. I will keep pushing to support our healthcare workers that are putting themselves in harm’s way. I will keep showing up to work to support our neighbors that are dealing with the repercussions of this pandemic, and I’m hopeful that my colleagues on both sides of the aisle will see fit to do the same.

Governor Evers requested that the bill be sent to his desk immediately for signing.  

New numbers were released at 2 PM today by the Department of Health Services. There are now 3721 positive tests for COVID-19 in the state, 1091 hospitalizations, and 182 deaths. That is an increase of 11 deaths since yesterday, so although there is now evidence that the rate of new infections (the so-called "flattening the curve") we are clearly not out of the woods and people are still dying at alarming rates, particularly in Milwaukee. 

Locally there are 20 confirmed cases in Chippewa County, 9 in Dunn County, and 21 in Eau Claire County. In the Chippewa Valley, it appears the spread of the disease is stabilizing, but even here we are still in the midst of a crisis.

Further statistics on the Wisconsin outbreak are available at the DHS website.

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Steve Hanson

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers and the Local Media Association, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley

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