Empower Wisconsin | June 2, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Video of the bedlam in some of America’s cities, — including Madison and Milwaukee — make it clear that peaceful protesters, rioters, and looters alike in recent days have failed to practice social distancing orders to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Will the Wisconsin Department of Health Services track potential increased cases of COVID-19 with the same zeal they had following the spring elections?
DHS officials did not respond to Empower Wisconsin’s request for comment Monday. But state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-West Allis), who chairs the Assembly health committee, did.
“They should, right? Especially if you take a look at Milwaukee, which is one of the hot spots (for COVID-19),” Sanfelippo said. “You’ll recall, Mayor (Tom) Barrett put in his own lockdown order beyond the state order. That was important for them.
“We listened to all their crap about the election, about how voting in person was going to kill people and spread this. It should be the same notion with these riots, too.”
Demonstrators have taken to the streets of major American cities to protest the death of George Floyd, a black man killed while in the custody of Minneapolis police officers. Many of the protests have been peaceful, but many have degenerated into riots, marked by violent assaults against police officers, looters ransacking and burning down businesses, and residents forced out of their neighborhoods as their cities melt down.
Sanfelippo said Gov. Tony Evers and liberal mayors like Barrett have been “conspicuously silent” about the impact the protests might have on COVID-19 cases. But health experts elsewhere have warned of what’s to come.
“There’s going to be a lot of issues coming out of what’s happened in the last week, but one of them is going to be that chains of transmission will have become lit from these gatherings,” former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in an interview Sunday on CBS News’s “Face the Nation.”
Of course, when the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that in-person voting in Wisconsin’s April election must go on, Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm insisted health officials would feverishly track any increases in COVID-19 arising from voting at the polls.
“The data will show us whether or not there was significant transmission as a result of what were essentially mass gatherings at polling locations around the state,” she said during a telephone town hall meeting with U.S. Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse). She expressed “big disappointment” at the ability of voters to go to the polls during the pandemic.
Is Palm disappointed by the lack of social distancing going on amid the rioting and looting. She’s been silent on that point.
Subsequent reports have found potential increases in cases by poll workers and voters, but experts caution it’s hard to tell definiitively if the April election and the special congressional election last month had anything to do with the cases. One report by Milwaukee County said 26 people in the county may have been infected while in-person voting. DHS counted 67 total around the state, but, again, with the caveat.
More than 400,000 Wisconsin residents voted at the polls in the spring election.
Team Evers has spent millions of dollars on so-called contract tracers, hiring scores of employees to track the origins of COVID-19 infections.
DHS claimed that health officials did not track whether any COVID-19 cases resulted from protests against Evers’ lockdown orders in April, but the agency has acknowledged that contract tracers do ask whether COVID-19 patients have been at large events.
Will Team Evers do the same following the recent protests, many organized by their friends in the radical left? Empower Wisconsin is waiting for answers from the administration.