A column by State Senator Patty Schachtner
As the Governor has said, public health is a team sport. We all have to be a part of the solution if we are going to be successful. So far, we’ve been a great team. Eighty six percent of Wisconsinites agreed with the decision to close schools and businesses, and by and large, most of us are staying safer at home. Those efforts have been successful and the curve has flattened. The challenge now is that if we move too quickly to lift the Safer at Home guidelines, or if people start to ignore them, we will undo all the success we’ve made so far and we will reset the clock.
Now I know we have to take action to support Wisconsinites through this crisis. With business closures for entrepreneurs, a lack of childcare for essential workers, and hours cut or jobs lost for others, our communities are making sacrifices every day. The economic impact is real and it has to be addressed.
I have been a small business owner and a Chamber of Commerce Executive Director. My family and I have lost jobs, lost our farm, and experienced financial hardship. I do not take the impact this has had on people’s families lightly.
But Governor Evers’ and President Trump’s administrations agree that the state needs a plan for sustained improvement before social distancing guidelines are relaxed. That’s where the Badger Bounce Back plan comes in. We need to meet certain thresholds for testing, contact tracing, healthcare worker infection rates, PPE access, and other metrics that public health officials have deemed necessary. Many of those metrics are based on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and the White House. As we achieve each goal, we can start to make some changes, but we need to see long-term improvement over at least 14 days before we can consider it a success.
With the Badger Bounce Back Plan in place, we have our goals and we know our targets but in the meantime, people are still struggling. That’s why I co-signed a letter way back on April 1st urging legislative leaders to take action on proposals to support small businesses, protect workers, and expand unemployment so all of our neighbors have the support they need to weather this storm. Yet most of those proposals still haven’t been moved for a vote, so unfortunately our work as a Legislature is incomplete. For our state to really bounce back, we need to support folks right now and ensure they’re in a position to succeed.
Turning the dial back on social distancing guidelines will take time, and we can only do so if everyone is pulling in the same direction. We need the Legislature, the Governor, and the people of Wisconsin to each keep doing their part so we can move our state forward again- sooner rather than later.