‘Start taking COVID-19 seriously’: Democratic law makers urge GOP leaders to take action on coronavirus response

Capitol Medium

MADISON, Wis. — Thirteen Democratic state senators have penned a joint letter calling on Republican leaders to “start taking COVID-19 seriously.”

The lawmakers said in the letter shared on Friday that Assembly Leader Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have done more to hinder the state’s response to the virus than to help it.

According to the letter — which was signed by senators Jon Erpenbach, Dave Hansen, Bob Wirch, Patty Schachtner, Fred Risser, Latonya Johnson, Tim Carpenter, Janis Ringhand, Chris Larson, Mark Miller, Jeff Smith, Lena Taylor and Janet Bewley — it’s been 178 days since the Legislature met to pass any legislation dealing with the ongoing pandemic.

“We need you to start taking COVID-19 seriously,” the letter reads. “Our state is in crisis, worsened by your inaction and by your desire to file lawsuits instead of passing bills that will make a difference in the lives of your constituents.”

Over the past month, coronavirus cases throughout Wisconsin have skyrocketed. Hospitalizations around the state are rising at rapid rates, more than tripling within the past month, according to the letter. Thursday also brought another record number of new coronavirus cases.

On Wednesday, Gov. Tony Evers activated a field hospital at the state fairgrounds to help healthcare workers manage the growing number of COVID-19 patients in need of care.

Dane County hospitalizations have also reached a record high.

“States nearby and next door have met several times to help their people handle the mounting challenges of this unprecedented pandemic. In contrast you and your allies have filed more lawsuits than you have passed bills in the last six months,” the letter reads. “Come to the table and join us. As the Majority Party, you have the power to affect change. It’s past time to help the people we serve.”

Earlier this week, Carpenter penned a letter calling for Fitzgerald’s resignation, citing a lack of action.

“We shouldn’t need to tell you the grim reality of the global pandemic in Wisconsin but every time Governor Evers has tried to respond to this crisis, Republicans in the Legislature take him to court or outright reject his efforts to begin the rules process,” the letter reads.

On Wednesday, Vos and Fitzgerald wrote a joint letter to Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm saying a recent statewide emergency order that limits indoor gatherings is unenforceable because it didn’t go through the Legislature’s rulemaking process.

The letter to Vos and Fitzgerald is available in its entirety here.