Hundreds gathered in Brookfield this weekend to protest the Governor’s extension amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, protesters said they feel like the Governor’s actions are burdening small businesses and preventing people from earning a living to support their families.
But Department of Health Services officials and the governor reiterated today that without safer-at-home restrictions, the state could have seen an intense increase in reported cases and deaths due to the virus.
“No one wants to reopen our economy as much as I do, but, folks, like I’ve said before, it has to be more like turning a dial than flipping a light switch,” Evers said. “And that’s why ‘safer at home’ is so important, so that we can continue to make sure our healthcare workers and system aren’t overwhelmed while we’re taking important steps to be able to turn down that dial safely and sooner.”
Protesters have organized a Freedom Rally this Friday in front of the state Capitol. The rally is part of the growing ReOpen Wisconsin movement that demands the governor end his administration’s safer at home order. Some protesting the order believe it should only apply to those who face a high risk of getting sick.
Richard Benjamin lives in Edgerton and recently attended a rally in favor of re-opening the state. He said he understands the value of practicing social distancing, but worries about the families who will be impacted by the extended stay at home order. Benjamin said he lost his nephew last week and, because of the virus, was unable to see him in the hospital.
“I think about all those people who are going to be going through that same situation the longer that this goes on. People are dying, and they’re dying alone,” Benjamin said. “I’m not saying it isn’t bad, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t take precautions—I wash my hands, I keep social distance, I do all the things to protect myself—but, there comes a point when you’re harming more than you’re helping.”
Similar protests have also broken out in over a dozen states across the U.S. And those protests come after tweets from President Trump to “liberate” certain states.
Protesters aren’t the only ones skeptical of being told to stay home for another six weeks. On Friday, Racine Senator Van Wanggaard sent a letter to the Governor questioning the extended order. Senator Wanggaard requested that Evers’ cite the data and evidence used to reach his decision.
“I think because we have gotten so much misinformation from every direction, I think it behooves us as people who are in leadership to be looking for evidence-based data,” Wanggaard said.
But the Governor and his advisers continue to stress the importance of “safer at home.” In a briefing today, the Governor reiterated that the state needs to clear several hurdles before it can reopen, including a 14-day decline in reported cases as well as enough medical equipment to meet needs.
“All of these efforts are critically-important to ensuring that we can reopen our economy as soon as we can safely and responsibly can. And to make sure our workers and our businesses are preparing to reopen as soon as it is safe,” Evers said.
But that wait will come with economic pain for Wisconsinites. As of last Friday, close to 291,000 in Wisconsin filed initial applications for unemployment since the original safer-at-home order took effect on March 25th.