Tuesday, October 6, 2020

With COVID runnng roughshod in Wisconsin, Evers makes moves

I was a bit surprised to see this today, but we all saw it coming, didn't we?
As COVID-19 cases continue surging in Wisconsin, Gov. Tony Evers' top health official Tuesday unveiled a new statewide order capping indoor public gatherings at certain businesses.

The move comes as the number of coronavirus cases Tuesday again rose over 2,000 after two days below that threshold, and as hospital beds dedicated to COVID-19 patients reached a record 782 on Monday....

Also, over the weekend more than 200 physicians in hard-hit Brown County called on officials to do something to stop the spread.

"To say that providing care to these patients is severely straining our local hospitals, health care workers and health systems is a drastic understatement," the doctors wrote. "There's no other way to say it: We are overwhelmed."
It's similar to the measures that we've seen in Dane County - 25% capacity on indoor stores and businesses that are open to the public, personal gatherings limited to 10, but lots of exemptions for religious gatherings, voting, and other public meetings. Except Evers isn't closing the inside of non-restaurant bars, like we've seen in Dane County.

And the numbers tell you why. Every day, we're seeing the number of Wisconsinites that are hospitalized with COVID go higher and higher, particularly in areas where there aren't all that many hospital beds. Deaths continue to rise along with hospitalizations. Starting with the first reported COVID-related death in Wisconsin on March 20, we're now at the fastest rate of deaths for the pandemic. Even though we know much more about how to treat it than we did 6 months ago.
Right before he announced the COVID limtations, Evers did offer some aid to the many small businesses who have already taken on major damage in the COVID World, with many looking at possible extinction with the combination of lower capacities and colder weather sinking in. This includes some areas I and others have specifically singled out as in need of help.
Over $50 million of $5,000 We’re All In Grants to more than 10,000 Wisconsin small businesses. The first phase of the program invested more than $65 million in grants for more than 26,000 businesses statewide. This round of We’re All In Grants will prioritize businesses most impacted by the pandemic, including restaurants and taverns, hair and nail salons and barber shops, and other services. It will be administered by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue in partnership with WEDC....

”$20 million for the Wisconsin lodging industry. In 2019, visitors to the state spent $3.7 billion on lodging but recent reports indicate that up to two-thirds of all Wisconsin hotels face closure within the next 12 months without additional support. This investment will provide the lodging industry emergency resources to navigate a reduction in travel and cover the cost of implementing additional public health best practices as the pandemic continues.

$15 million for live music and performance venues throughout Wisconsin. Music venues, which often serve as community gathering places and cultural hubs, were among the first small businesses to close and may beamong the last to fully re-open. Many owners have been vocal in expressing the need for federal assistance to further supplement the state investments already made. Gov. Evers’ investment will help these venues thatare shuttered and hopefully encourage a nationwide plan to save these businesses over the long term.

$10 million to support privately owned movie theaters. Wisconsin movie theaters have not been spared the financial strain felt by movie theater companies nationally as content has been limited and activity limited across the state. This investment will assist privately owned movie theaters while federal support remains stalled.

$10 million in additional support for non-profit cultural venues.The significant response to the original grant announcement several weeks demonstrates the challenges faced by these community centers of learning and culture. The additional support will bring the full investment in these treasures to $15 million and support local communities around the state.
The money to live music venues is something I talked about last month, and the movie threatres and local arts organizations also are in big-time need. I just worry that $5,000 to try to help a restaurant survive the winter won't be enough, and may already be a few weeks too late.

But at least Evers is recognizing that these businesses have to be subsidized due to extraordinary circumstances of this COVID world. And that we can't stand by and throw up our hands at the worst COVID breakout in America, which means restrictions have to be put back in place, since large swaths of the public have shown it cannot handle this with the natural pressures of capitalism, and the needs for far too many not to be inconvenienced.

These choices by Evers aren't going to solve our twin crises of COVID and a depressed economy by themselves, but they are much better than the decisions WisGOPs have made. The Republicans' "strategy" is basically to do NOTHING, other than gripe about anything Evers does, and have their Bradley puppetmasters waste our tax money with lawsuits. Which has allowed us to stay in this mess for several months, and it's gotta be ended.

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