State Sen. Van Wanggaard (R–Racine) wrote a letter to ask Gov. Tony Evers these questions:
This is a much different letter than I had been intending to write you prior to yesterday. Out of respect for your office, the difficult decisions you or your staff are making and the unprecedented time facing this country, I have largely avoided publicly criticizing your decisions during the pandemic. However, your unilateral decision yesterday to extend your “Safer at Home” order has forced a different approach.
In publicly announcing your extension of your “Safer at Home” order, you stated, as you have in the past, that you were relying on “science” to make the decision to shutter the state for six more weeks. As a former police officer, I too rely on science, specifically, evidence and data to make conclusions.
Therefore, to properly evaluate the wisdom of your unilateral decision to extend the economic hardship in Wisconsin past Memorial day, I would ask you to answer the following questions citing the current Wisconsin data and evidence you used to reach to your decision.
1. When putting in place your order for the initial four weeks, it was explained that this time period was chosen for the purpose of preventing the disease’s spread for two, 2-week, incubation periods. What in the science of the disease has changed that now recommends four-and-a-half, 2-week, incubation periods?
2. How many people in Wisconsin that tested positive for the disease no longer test positive for the disease? That is to say, how many people have “recovered”, according to testing results?
3. What are the specific criteria used to determine if someone has died specifically because of COVID-19, as opposed to an underlying health condition?
4. How many people have required hospitalization specifically for COVID-19 and not underlying health conditions and how many have required treatment in ICUs or with ventilators? What is the current (as of the day of your response) number of people a) hospitalized, b) in ICU, and c) on ventilators in Wisconsin? What percentage of Wisconsin’s health care capacity does that represent?
5. You have extended “Safer at Home” until May 26, 2020. What evidence do you have that a 9-week quarantine order will decrease the infection and death rate from COVID-19?
6. You extended your “Safer at Home” order only 3-weeks into its initial period. Given that the initial order was not concluded before your extension, the data from the initial order is incomplete. How did you conclude from incomplete data that the quarantine must be more than doubled?
7. Your extended “Safer at Home” order expires on May 26, 2020, yet you cancelled school for the remainder of the school year, which is generally the first or second week on June. Why did you cancel school for an additional 2-3 weeks following the expiration of the Safer at Home order? Why is it safe for people to “start going back to normal” on May 26, but not safe for children to go to school until September? Again, please use science and data in your answer.
8. How many “elective” surgeries have been postponed or delayed during your Public Health Emergency? Has there been any quantification of the economic costs of the delays to hospitals and patients? How many deaths have occurred because of these delays? To the extent you have any documentation, please provide it under Wisconsin’s Open Records Law.
9. How many colonoscopies have been forced to be cancelled because of our public health emergency? Given the typical rate of cancer discovery during colonoscopies, how many people do you estimate have colon cancer but are unaware because of a delayed or postponed colonoscopy?
10. There is anecdotal evidence of the increase in suicides during the public health emergency. How many people have taken their own lives, or attempted to, since Emergency Order #12, and how does that number compare with the same time period last year?
11. How many police calls for domestic abuse and child abuse have been made since Emergency Order #12, and how does that compare to the same time period last year?
12. The evidence provided by your Department of Health Services finds that 84% of Wisconsin’s COVID-19 cases and 85% of COVID-19 deaths come from 9 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, and that most of these counties are located in southeastern Wisconsin. What is the rationale for keeping the remaining 63 counties and 4 million people homebound and out of work given their miniscule infection rate?
13. What do the COVID-19 rates in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Minnesota have to do with reopening Wisconsin’s economy and allowing Wisconsinites to travel as they wish?
14. What Wisconsin-based metric are you using to evaluate the end-date for the Safer at Home Order and restart the strong Wisconsin economy you inherited?
15. Given that a vaccine is unlikely to be produced within a year, with mass-production taking even longer, and that humankind has never cured a virus, what faith should Wisconsinites have that you will reopen the state given your public comments about needing a vaccine or cure?
16. How many businesses does your administration estimate will be forced to close permanently due to the Safer at Home order? To the extent your office has written documentation, please provide it under Wisconsin’s Open Records Law.
17. How many Wisconsin businesses have applied for the 2020 or PPP program, and how many employees are employed by those businesses?
18. How many jobs does your administration estimate will be lost due to the Safer at Home order? To the extent you have written documentation, please provide it under Wisconsin’s Open Records Law.
19. You have closed 40 state parks. How many state workers are employed at those 40 parks, and how many have been furloughed since the parks have been closed?
20. How does prohibiting the use of public boat launches and individual fishermen stop the spread COVID-19?
21. What is your plan for reopening the state’s economy?
22. Have you specifically shared your reopening plan with ANY Wisconsin legislator? If so, who? If not, why not?
The questions I have asked are not unreasonable or “trap” questions. In fact, the questions I have asked should have been considered long before both making and then extending your Safer at Home order.
The questions I have asked are direct. That is because the people of Wisconsin deserve direct answers. I ask that you answer them as directly as I have asked them.
I look forward to your response, preferably prior to your original “Safer at Home” end date of April 25, 2020.
The senator should not hold his breath.