During a visit earlier this month to Wisconsin, we watched the state struggle with a surge in Covid-19 cases, and the reaction of a population, particularly in rural areas, reluctant to face reality.
Since the state’s Supreme Court overturned Gov. Tony Evers Safer at Home order, on May 15, it has fallen on local officials to make decisions about confronting the pandemic up to local officials. Two months later, as the number of cases climbs dramatically, some communities, are being forced to confront the issue – often against vocal opposition.
Green Bay, Racine and Superior all passed mask ordinances July 22. Green Bay is in Brown County which has recorded the third highest number of Covid-19 cases, thanks in part of an outbreak at a meat packing facility.
After the Green Bay City Council passed the mask ordinance, every member of the council, the mayor and the police chief received death threats.
In Sheboygan County, where cases are surging, the Plymouth Common Council decided to study the mask issue, punting any decision until a meeting Sept. 8. How many residents will come down with the virus in the meantime?
An increasing number of businesses are taking the lead, requiring employees and customers to wear masks. Over the last two weeks, associates at the Fleet Farm in Plymouth have started wearing face coverings, and some customers had taking the hint.
The Pick ‘n Save, a unit of Kroger, has a well-established mask and social distancing policy. During one visit, we were pleased to see an employee at the entrance tell a couple they had to wear a mask to enter the store. The couple walked away, the man grumbling, “I guess we won’t have anything to eat tonight.”
A friend who was bicycling in the area recounted an experience he and a = friend had at an area bar.
A woman, in her 60s or 70s walked all the way around the bar to their table and berated them for wearing a mask. Didn’t they know wearing the mask would not keep them from getting sick?
True. But she missed the point. The mask keeps a wearer from spreading the disease to others – like her. And at any given time, we may be incubating the infection or asymptomatic.
We cannot help it wonder if this surge could have been avoided – or at least minimized -- if Wisconsin still had a statewide Safer at Home policy.