Tag Archives: Coronavirus

WHO: Lockdowns Make “Poor People and Awful Lot Poorer”

Some of us have been saying this for going on eight months now.

The World Health Organisation has backflipped on its original COVID-19 stance after calling for world leaders to stop locking down their countries and economies.

Dr. David Nabarro from the WHO appealed to world leaders yesterday, telling them to stop “using lockdowns as your primary control method” of the coronavirus.

He also claimed that the only thing lockdowns achieved was poverty – with no mention of the potential lives saved.

“Lockdowns just have one consequence that you must never ever belittle, and that is making poor people an awful lot poorer,” he said.

“We in the World Health Organisation do not advocate lockdowns as the primary means of control of this virus,” Dr Nabarro told The Spectator.

“The only time we believe a lockdown is justified is to buy you time to reorganise, regroup, rebalance your resources, protect your health workers who are exhausted, but by and large, we’d rather not do it.”

Talks for New COVID Rescue Bill Fails


US President Donald Trump has said he is ending negotiations over a Covid-19 relief bill, and will only resume talks after the election.

“Immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans,” he tweeted one day after leaving hospital.

Budget talks between Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had been underway.

We don’t need another massive spending bill. We might need a few targeted infusions or policy adjustments, but not an omnibus monster. But Pelosi and Schumer never had any intention of passing anything before the election. They are just moving the goal posts to keep it in the news cycle. Trump was smart to drop it. And I hope it stays dropped after the election.

Evers wants to extend illegal mask mandate

My column for the Washington County Daily News in online and in print. When it comes to the mask mandate, Governor Evers is wrong on the law and wrong on the science.

Governor Tony Evers’ illegal order that all Wisconsinites wear face masks is set to expire on September 28 and he covets an extension of his despotic rule. Any extension of the order would not only be the third intentionally illegal power grab by the governor through emergency declarations, but it would be an admission that his actions are not rooted in science or data. Evers’ emergency orders are about power — not people.


If you think that a governor creating a permanent state of emergency where he issues arbitrary orders at his sole discretion is an acceptable way to govern, then the governor should at least be able to explain why the order is necessary and will work. The evidence is clear that the current mask mandate has not had any impact on the spread of coronavirus.

Evers Threatens to Extend Illegal Order


Evers issued the statewide mask mandate on July 30, using a power in state law that lets governors declare public health emergencies for up to 60 days. Evers used the same law to issue another 60-day emergency in March during the early days of the pandemic.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) filed a lawsuit over the mandate in late August, arguing that it was unlawful for Evers to declare multiple emergencies for the same event. That lawsuit is ongoing.

“We will fight we will fight every step of the way to make sure that this one small thing that everybody can do remains in place until we’re told that the numbers are down,” Evers said in a discussion that was broadcast by the Wisconsin Eye public affairs network.

Evers’ current order is set to expire on Sept. 28 unless it’s rescinded before then by the governor, the Legislature or a court order. But Evers gave no indication that he would rescind the masking order himself, and he didn’t rule out extending it.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there whether we extend it or not,” Evers said.

Once again, the issue is not whether mandating masks is the correct course of action or not. The issue is whether we are going to allow a single man to utterly ignore our system of representative government and issue arbitrary orders from his mansion in Madison. If he can order a mask, he could also order that we all wear hats, or be clean shaven so that the masks fit, or carry guns because there are riots, or whatever. The issue is whether or not we should live under the arbitrary rule of a single man or return to a republican form of government.

As for the effectiveness of a mask mandate, help me reconcile this.

Since the order, cases have gone up:

But deaths and hospitalizations are steady:


So since Evers ordered that everyone wear masks, cases are spiking, but deaths and hospitalizations remain flat. If the purpose of masks are to stop the spread of the Rona, shouldn’t we see the positive impact in the number of cases? We are not. We are seeing the opposite.

The reason is that the rise in cases is being driven completely by people aged 18-24.

This is because of all of the college kids who went back to school. Not only are they spreading it around a bit, but they are being tested like crazy. The more you test, the more you will find. But clearly, many of the kids have few, if any symptoms, and they are recovering fine without hospital intervention. Also bear in mind that almost all state colleges are rigorously enforcing the mask mandate.

If there is absolutely no evidence that the mask mandate is actually mitigating the spread of disease, why would the governor consider extending it? Aren’t we supposed to follow the science? Is is this not really about the science or fighting the pandemic?

Let the school year begin — and continue

Here is my full column that ran this week in the Washington County Daily News.

After a truncated school year and a summer that has been robbed of the normal cultural milestones, it is almost difficult to believe that the new school year is upon us. Yet upon us it is and school districts all over the state are releasing their plans to open.

The science and public opinion overwhelmingly support opening schools with in-person instruction with reasonable precautions to mitigate the spread of disease. The Centers for Disease Control said, “The unique and critical role that schools play makes them a priority for opening and remaining open, enabling students to receive both academic instruction and support as well as critical services.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics “strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with a goal of having students physically present in school. The importance of in-person learning is well-documented, and there is already evidence of the negative impacts on children because of school closures in the spring of 2020.”

The vast majority of people agree. According to a recent AP-NORC poll, 68% of Americans think that schools should have in-person instruction with some changes to lessen the chance for spreading diseases. The myriad surveys that local school districts conducted came back with even stronger preferences with as much as 88% (West Bend) wanting some form of in-person school instruction.

To their credit, every public and private school and school district in Washington County responded accordingly and is opening with a plan that includes in-person instruction. Some plans are better than others. The West Bend School District is offering in-person, virtual, or hybrid models so that each family can choose what best fits their situation and risk tolerance. The Germantown School District is offering an in-person or virtual model, but the in-person model for high schoolers is a goofy alternating schedule that wreaks havoc on family schedules.

Still, the schools in Washington County will be open for education and that is to be commended. It demonstrates that education truly is a priority when so many other schools across the state and country are choosing to eschew their duty to educate the adults of tomorrow. Opening our schools is not only vitally important for the education of our kids, it is also imperative for their social and emotional well-being.

But we must gird ourselves for the inevitable outbreak of COVID-19 when our schools open. Every parent knows that some sniffle or cough will ravage their household within a couple weeks of school opening every year. It is the unavoidable outcome of the commingling of hundreds of humans with questionable hygiene. The implementation of social distancing, thorough sanitation, masks, shields, and limited or coordinated movement will surely reduce the spread of disease, but nature has a way of finding holes in any defense. There will be outbreaks of various contagious diseases and, undoubtedly, one of those will be COVID-19.

Davy Crockett was fond of saying, “Be always sure you are right, then go ahead.” That is the attitude we will need from our school leaders and parents when outbreaks happen. The science is sound. Our kids need to be in school and they cannot afford to miss any more. The risk of kids suffering severe harm from COVID-19 or spreading it is low. The short- and long-term educational, emotional, and social harm our kids will suffer if they miss more school is immense.

When the outbreaks come, and they will, we must not panic. We must act, but we must not panic. And when we act to isolate the infected and mitigate the spread, we must do so with the overarching goal of keeping our schools open.

The schools must open. They must stay open. We are sure we are right. We must go ahead.


Coronavirus Spending Bill Hits Impasse

Good. May it never see the President’s signature. Let the economy open and we won’t need another flood of borrowed money.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows said on Sunday he was not optimistic on reaching agreement soon on a deal for the next round of legislation to provide relief to Americans hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m not optimistic that there will be a solution in the very near term,” Meadows said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” as staff members from both sides were meeting to try to iron out differences over the bill.

Democrats were standing in the way of a separate agreement to extend some federal unemployment benefits in the short-term while negotiations continue on an overall relief package, he said.

“We continue to see really a stonewalling of any piecemeal type of legislation that happens on Capitol Hill,” Meadows said. “Hopefully that will change in the coming days.”

Government ponders response as cases rise

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

Wisconsin is seeing an uptick in daily reported COVID-19 cases as the summer warms up. The statistic that we are supposed to be scared about continues to shift as the scare-mongers and power-grabbers grasp around for the most alarming statistic, but Wisconsin has been seeing an increase in daily reported cases for about a month. Should our state government do anything about it? Mark Twain once wittily classified statistics as one of the three kinds of lies. If we remember back to when the coronavirus crisis came to a head in March, the two statistics that were being trumpeted were deaths and hospitalizations. Deaths were being tracked because the models predicted 2.2 million deaths in the United States. Those models have now been proven woefully incorrect, but we believed them at the time.

We tracked the number of hospitalizations because of the great fear that we would overwhelm the capacity of our health care system and cause a lethally cascading event. This was the whole logic behind “flatten the curve” and “15 days to slow the spread.” The logic was sound in the face of models projecting a doomsday pandemic, so we implemented striking infringements of our civil rights to flatten the curve.

Thankfully, as it turns out, we never came close to overwhelming our health care system and the overflow hospitals that were built were left unused. After the Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ unconstitutional dictatorial power grab on May 13, the number of hospitalizations remained manageable and eventually declined. The death rate also continued to decline.

Now, two months after the state reopened, we are seeing an increase in daily reported cases and we are told by the media and our government that the state must act to lock down the state, require masks, or some other reactive measure to keep everyone panicked and docile.

Let us return to the statistics that we were originally concerned about. As of this weekend, there were 264 patients hospitalized with COVID-19 out of 7,305 active cases. That is a hospitalization rate of 3.6%. Wisconsin has 11,390 hospital beds of various uses – not including the overflow beds built by the state. At the peak of this crisis, 446 people were hospitalized. Wisconsin’s health care system still has ample capacity to handle the ongoing spread of the disease.

There seem to be two main reasons why Wisconsin is adding more cases every day but the hospitalization and death rate continue to be flat or decline. First, Wisconsin is testing more than ever. With a capacity of over 24,000 tests per day, testing has become easy and routine. Early during the pandemic, only people who were sick or suspected of being sick were tested. As such, the percentage of positive results was high. Now we are routinely testing entire workplaces or facilities and finding more people who have, or had, the virus without ever actually being sick.

Second, many of the cases being discovered are people who are younger, healthier, and fight off the virus as easily as a cold. The age group of 20-29 now comprises a full 25% of reported cases and growing, but only has a hospitalization rate of 3%. Whether the virus is spreading through the younger portion of the population or we are merely noticing it now that we are testing more is subject of speculation. In either case, it is a good thing. The virus is working though the least vulnerable portion of our population and building a natural community immunity. This is the surest way to protect the most vulnerable parts of our population.

The goal of our public policy was never to stop the virus completely, nor should it be. Such a goal is impossible and has the fetor of a hubris only a politician could entertain. Our government’s response should be to do exactly what this column said months ago. Our government should pool resources to respond to outbreaks, provide the latest recommendations, and provide the legal protection to allow Wisconsinites to continue to work. Other than that, our government should stay out of the way and let Wisconsinites manage their own lives.


Government ponders response as cases rise

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. I’ll get to the point:

The goal of our public policy was never to stop the virus completely, nor should it be. Such a goal is impossible and has the fetor of a hubris only a politician could entertain. Our government’s response should be to do exactly what this column said months ago. Our government should pool resources to respond to outbreaks, provide the latest recommendations, and provide the legal protection to allow Wisconsinites to continue to work. Other than that, our government should stay out of the way and let Wisconsinites manage their own lives.


Back to School

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. We must open the schools:

School Districts throughout the state should get back to the business of educating kids on a full-time basis. There will need to be some reasonable changes to mitigate the spread of disease, whether it is COVID-19 or something else. Rigorous sanitation, routine hand washing, masks where appropriate, and quickly sending sick kids and staff members home should become the norm, but so should rigorous and routine education.

Also, accommodations must be made for kids and staff members who are at a higher risk by providing real distance learning alternatives. This does not mean broadcasting a class that is usually delivered in the classroom and sending some worksheets. This means designing education specifically to be delivered remotely. There are already several online public and private schools in Wisconsin that do a phenomenal job educating kids who learn better outside of the classroom. Wisconsin must learn from these schools, amplify their success, and waive restrictions to allow kids to transfer into those schools immediately.

Wisconsinites invest a tremendous amount of money, time, and effort into our K-12 education system precisely because we believe in the necessity and promise of education. It is past time for them to get back to doing the work our kids deserve.

Lifting of Stay at Home Order Does Not Lead to Covid Outbreak

Sooooo…. there’s a study.

Both the White House and state governors have explicitly linked thresholds of reduced COVID-19 case growth to the lifting of statewide shelter-in-place orders (SIPOs). This “hardwired” policy endogeneity creates empirical challenges in credibly isolating the causal effect of lifting a statewide SIPO on COVID-19-related health. To break this simultaneity problem, the current study exploits a unique natural experiment generated by a Wisconsin Supreme Court decision. On May 13, 2020, the Wisconsin Supreme Court abolished the state’s “Safer at Home” order, ruling that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services unconstitutionally usurped legislative authority to review COVID-19 regulations. We capitalize on this sudden, dramatic, and largely unanticipated termination of a statewide SIPO to estimate its effect on social distancing and COVID-19 case growth. Using a synthetic control design, we find no evidence that the repeal of the state SIPO impacted social distancing, COVID-19 cases, or COVID-19-related mortality during the fortnight following enactment. Estimated effects were economically small and nowhere near statistically different from zero. We conclude that the impact of shelter-in-place orders is likely not symmetric across enactment and lifting of the orders.

Bureaucrat Brags Despite Failure

Ummm… no.

“No administration has ever faced anything like that before,” said Mark Reihl, DWD unemployment division administrator. “We have done everything possible as quickly as possible to bring as many people on as we could … Frankly, I think we have done a great job in this period of time. Is it as good as we would like? Certainly not.”

I see a lot of excuses and slow action. I see very little leadership or results. Take a look at this MacIver story that tracks their very, very, very lethargic reaction and refusal to think outside of their bureaucratic bubble.

When Safer at Home went into effect, DWD had 57 employees at its unemployment call center, and the phone system could handle 450 calls at a time. On Mar. 26th, the day after the lockdown went into effect, DWD was getting 160 attempted calls a second, over half a million an hour.

DWD reacted by transferring 75 of its 1,606 full time employees to help out at the call center, bringing the total up to 132. It also boosted its call volume capacity up to 690 calls at a time, which meant more people would be able to wait on hold.

DWD’s unemployment line got 1.5 million attempted calls during the first week of Safer at Home, but only 115,679 people successfully filed a claim. Not all of those claims were filed over the phone. DWD begged people to file online, citing a 98 percent success rate for the 19,000 who did.

With the call center completely overwhelmed by demand, Frostman added another 18 people to its staff during the second week of the shutdown. That brought the total up to 150. Even though DWD still had over 1,400 full time employees not working at the call center, it announced plans to hire 85 new employees to help process unemployment paperwork.

Frostman said out of date IT infrastructure was the problem, and it “has forced DWD’s staff to work overtime, nights, and weekends to process unemployment claims to support out-of-work Wisconsinites.”

However, they weren’t taking calls 24/7. Phone lines were only open from 7:30 – 3:30, Monday to Friday.

That doesn’t look like “everything possible as quickly as possible” to me.

Predicted Surge in Deaths Fails to Materialize

Again. It seems like every time the anti-civil rights folks claim there will be widespread death if we don’t strip people of their rights, it fails to materialize. Are they incompetent or do they have ulterior motives? Or both?  From Dan O’Donnell

On May 13th, the day of the Supreme Court ruling, Wisconsin saw 291 new cases of Coronavirus out of 4,363 tests for a positive test rate of 6.3%.  Since the virus has an incubation period of between three and 14 days (with an average incubation of five days), the state would expect a massive spike in both positive tests and the positive test rate by today—two weeks after the state reopened—if the reopening was indeed responsible for such a spike.

There hasn’t been a spike in either.  Five days after the court’s ruling on the 13th, the state saw just 144 positive tests even though there were far more total tests (4,828) done than on the 13th for a positive rate of 2.9% on May 18th.

Eight days later, on May 26th, the positive test rate was 3.6% (279 positive tests out of 7,495 total).  Just twice has the positive rate hit or topped 8% since the Supreme Court’s ruling.  By contrast, in April the positive test rate routinely hit 10% per day.  Two weeks to the day after Wisconsin reopened, neither the number of new cases per day nor the percentage of positive tests has even come close to spiking.

Neither has the number of hospitalizations or ICU visits.   In none of the state’s seven regions has there been even a tiny bump per day.  Instead, the numbers have been remarkably consistent throughout the outbreak, suggesting that the reopening has had little to no effect at all on the hospitalization rate and thus the severity of the disease’s impact.

As if that wasn’t enough to disprove the hysterical predictions of death and destruction made just two weeks ago, the virus has somehow become less deadly since Wisconsin started to reopen.

In the 13 days since the Supreme Court’s ruling, there have been 96 Coronavirus deaths for an average of 7.3 per day.  In the 13 days immediately preceding the Court’s ruling, there were 105 Coronavirus deaths for an average of 8.07 per day.

If Wisconsin signed its own death warrant when the Supreme Court struck down “Safer at Home,” then the signature must have been forged.  In no way has the state become a more dangerous place since it reopened.  The “chaos” that Evers repeatedly predicted has been proven to be as nonsensical a forecast as the death and destruction the Governor and his fellow Democrats insisted would result from an in-person election on April 7th.

“Emergency Order 28 is declared unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable.”

Hey look. The Supreme Court agrees with me. Go about your business, folks.


¶58 We conclude that Emergency Order 28 is a rule under the controlling precedent of this court, Citizens for Sensible Zoning, Inc. v. DNR, 90 Wis. 2d 804, 280 N.W.2d 702 (1979), and therefore is subject to statutory emergency rulemaking procedures established by the Legislature. Emergency Order 28 is a general order of general application within the meaning of Wis. Stat. § 227.01(13) which defines “Rule.” Accordingly, the rulemaking procedures of Wis. Stat. § 227.24 were required to be followed during the promulgation of Order 28. Because they were not, Emergency Order 28 is unenforceable.21 Furthermore, Wis. Stat. § 252.25 required that Emergency Order 28 be promulgated using the procedures established by the Legislature for rulemaking if criminal penalties were to follow. Because Palm did not follow the
law in creating Order 28, there can be no criminal penalties for violations of her order. The procedural requirements of Wis. Stat. ch. 227 must be followed because they safeguard all people.

¶59 We further conclude that Palm’s order confining all people to their homes, forbidding travel and closing businesses 21 This decision does not apply to Section 4. a. of Emergency Order 28.  exceeded the statutory authority of Wis. Stat. § 252.02, upon which Palm claims to rely. By the Court.—Palm’s Emergency Order 28 is declared unlawful, invalid, and unenforceable.

Most disappointing is that Justice Hagedorn voted in the minority with a ridiculous rationale. This comes after he went lefty on taking up the ballot issue a few months ago. Make no mistake, once Justice Kelly leaves the court, this is now a 4-3 LIBERAL Supreme Court.

Cases in Georgia Continue to Decline After Opening

Remember when Georgia largely opened their economy three weeks ago and some people predicted an explosion in cases and deaths? Yeah, not so much.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Fails to Act

It has been over a week since the Wisconsin Supreme Court heard arguments challenging the constitutionality of Governor Evers’ orders to micromanage our lives, strip our civil rights, and suspend representative government in response to the Coronavirus. Their lethargy is embarrassing and unconscionable. People are losing their jobs, businesses, incomes, savings… governments are on their way to bankruptcy right behind thousands of Wisconsin businesses… and the black robes sit without acting.

Today is the 61st day since Governor Evers issued the first order in accordance with emergency statutes and that authority has expired. While I consider the statutory authority for the original order to be unconstitutionally broad and capricious, the extension order is based on a statute that is unconstitutional on its face. We do not grant unending and unrestrained authority to a cabinet secretary. I do not consent.

Therefore, I consider Wisconsin’s lock down to be null and void as of today. The fact that a tyrant in Madison may issue orders, that does not mean that the orders carry any legal authority. I’m going to go about my life as a free citizen of the United States. I will take reasonable precautions in accordance with medical guidelines, but I will live my life.

Public sector must share burden of economic ruin

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday

While rolling out another slew of arbitrary benchmarks for reopening Wisconsin and offering platitudes of sympathy, Gov. Tony Evers said, “As much as people believe we’re going to return to the good old days — that’s just not going to happen.” That is true for many of us, but it is especially true for government. The collapse of government revenue due to the government-imposed economic collapse has already begun and it will not subside any time soon. Governments at all levels will need to make huge structural changes to adapt to the new reality.

Our federal government is spending money at an unprecedented level. Congress and President Trump have already committed to $2.4 trillion in COVID relief packages and are discussing spending trillions more. This spending is ballooning the national debt to over 122% of the nation’s gross domestic product, a level higher than the nation had after World War II.

The federal government has a tool that no other government in our nation has. It can print as much money as it wants to pay off the debt. Doing so potentially leads to hyperinflation and the collapse of the American economy for generations, but it can do it. State and local governments do not have that option. If a state or local government can’t cover its bills, it might go bankrupt and default on its loans.

Last week the Legislative Fiscal Bureau released information on the state’s tax collections for April. Since Evers locked down the state’s economy in the middle of March, April was the first full month of lockdown economics. As expected with businesses shuttered, over 400,000 newly unemployed citizens, and people being forced to stay home, state sales and income tax collections plummeted.

According to the preliminary data, total tax collections were down $870 million compared to April of 2019. That is a 43% decline in revenue over last year and an even steeper decline over what the state expected to collect when they wrote the budget. As we approach the middle of May with no end of the economic misery in sight, the tax collections will be far less than what the budget called for. Meanwhile, some expenditures are increasing to respond to COVID.

To put this in perspective, in January, the LFB forecast that the state would end the budget with a $620 million surplus. Governor Evers actually called a special session of the Legislature because he wanted to spend the projected surplus on schools. At the time I argued in this column that it would be immoral to spend money we did not have. A projection is, after all, not actual money.

Thankfully, the Legislature has more sense than Governor Evers and declined to spend any of the surplus. The decline in tax revenues for April alone have completely wiped out any projected budget surplus and pushed the state budget into a deficit. As tax collections in May and for the foreseeable future will also be well below what the budget called for, the state government is facing a massive shortfall thanks to Governor Evers’ decision to crush the state’s booming economy in response to a virus.

The decline in tax revenue is also cascading to all other levels of government. County, municipal, and school governments are also facing a future with a lot less money to spend. The gravy train has skidded off the rails. So far, the governor and local government leaders have done very little to restrain spending. Perhaps accustomed to having someone bail out their bad decisions, they have been very slow to act.

All this means that state and local governments will have to make some big, difficult, and necessary decisions in the coming months to bring spending in line with what the people can afford. Everything must be on the table including employee benefits, pensions, entire departments, buildings, staff for elected officials, the governor’s mansion, schools, universities, and, yes, entitlements.

When this must happen, government employees and beneficiaries are sure to forcefully object, but it must happen. There just isn’t enough money. Just like private businesses and citizens must adapt to the new normal of smaller economy, so must our government.

The reality is that tax collections are down because people simply have less money. Income tax collections are down because people are unemployed or have had their income cut. Sales tax collections are down because people can’t afford to spend money like they used to. Business tax collections are down because businesses are making less and going under. We can’t tax our way out of budget deficits because the money just isn’t there.

The private sector has already shouldered the burden of government-mandated economic ruin. The public sector will have to carry its load too.



People Dying At Home

More predictable, if unintentional, consequences.

While no reliable statistics are available on how many Americans with non-Covid-related illnesses are avoiding the health system, doctors responding to an informal Twitter poll reported a 40% reduction in heart attack patients. Cigna, the insurance company, said patients were not actively seeking care for urgent health needs, citing significant reductions in hospitalizations for GI bleeds, seizures and appendicitis.

Though it is not known how many people with chronic disease have died in recent weeks, some may be driving up the number of suspected Covid deaths – a grey area of the data that includes people who have died of related health issues.

Open Wisconsin now

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Go pick up a copy!

This week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court is hearing arguments about whether or not to end Governor Tony Evers’ dictatorial rule and re-establish the Legislature as a co-equal branch of government. Hopefully the court will side with self-governance and strike down Evers’ unconstitutional power grab. When they do, the governor and Legislature will be left to wrangle over the best plan to reopen the state’s economy. What should the plan be? Get out of the way and let Wisconsinites get to work.

As other states go about opening their economies, they are doing so with a variety of plans. Some are very detailed plans with a strict metrics. Some are looser plans with a schedule of gradual opening. Some, like Governor Evers’ plan, are utterly unworkable and rely on arbitrary decisions made in the governor’s mansion. All of them are based on the incorrect presumption that some politician sitting in a leather chair in a faraway capital is better informed on how to safely open factories, retail stores, processing plants, and offices than the people who own and work in them.

Wisconsin’s experience is the perfect example. Evers closed the state without much of a plan. From the first day, confusion reigned as people tried to comply with the rules, but since the rules were vague and incomplete, Evers resorted to issuing various clarifications every few days. There was never any way that Evers, or his staff of lifer government bureaucrats, were equipped to fully understand the full consequences of the orders they were issuing. They were never going to be able to anticipate and respond to the way their orders rolled through society.

While Evers and his staff may be uniquely and especially bad, no small group of politicians and advisers would be experienced and smart enough to micromanage something on the scale of stopping or restarting an entire state’s economy. The reason Evers failed so badly is the same reason that socialism fails: central planning does not work.

That is why Wisconsin should not go down the failed path of central planning when reopening the economy. Instead, our state and local governments should assume the role of a humble government that uses its granted powers to support the people — not oppress them.

When the coronavirus crisis began, we were facing a very scary unknown danger. The early projections showed that the virus may kill millions, incapacitate many more, and overwhelm our health care system. Based on those projections, our governments responded with draconian measures. With the benefit of hindsight, we can argue about whether that response was warranted, but we have more information as we move forward.

While we are a long way from completely controlling or stopping the spread of coronavirus, we know a lot more about it and its spread. It is not as deadly as we thought. We have plenty of capacity in our health care system. The spread can be greatly mitigated by social distancing, washing hands, covering coughs, sanitizing surfaces, and staying home if you are sick. And the people who are at most risk of serious complications or death are the elderly and those with serious underlying conditions.

We have spent weeks learning about this virus and how to protect against it. We have shifted from dealing with a scary unknown risk to a scary known risk. That is why our government should step back and let the citizens manage the risk for themselves. The people all know how dangerous this virus is now and are perfectly capable of managing the risk just like we do for every other risk that confronts each of us every day.

No business owner wants their customers, employees, or themselves to get sick. No customer wants to put himself or herself at undue risk while shopping. No employee wants to work in unsafe conditions. But it is up to each of these groups of people – employers, employees, and customers – to work out how to interact with each other where everybody is comfortable. Those billions of interactions take nuance and understanding to do correctly. Nuance and understanding are not government’s forte.

While government should step back and let a free, self-governing citizenry open their own economy, we do need our government to do what government does well. We need our government to pool resources to be available to swamp any potential outbreaks. We need our government to provide the latest guidance and recommendations. We need our government to provide legal reform to limit liability for people who might be sued because of the virus.

Other than that, we need our government to get out of the way.

Denmark and the Czech Republic Do Not See Surge of Deaths After Partially Reopening

Good news. Just like the election in Wisconsin, we are over two weeks away from these reopenings and there hasn’t been a surge. We can reopen responsibly.

There was, though, encouraging news from the Czech Republic and Denmark, where phased exits from strict lockdowns implemented early in the pandemic are under way. In Denmark, daycare facilities and schools began reopening two weeks ago, followed by hairdressers and other small businesses on 20 April.

“There are no signs at all that the partial reopening has caused a bigger spread of infection,” said Christian Wejse, a scientist at the department of infectious diseases at Aarhus University. “At least there is no indication that we are heading into another wave. That has been the concern, but I can’t see that at all.”

The Czech health minister, Adam Vojtěch, said the country’s number of new cases had been below 100 for the past eight consecutive days and also reported that a staggered reopening of shops and services had not so far led to a surge in infections.

“So far we do not see a negative trend resulting from previous relaxations,” Vojtěch said. “We will proceed with caution, gradually in the upcoming waves, and I believe we are on a good path.”

Healthcare System is Not Overwhelmed by COVID

We did our job. We flattened the curve. Can we go back to work?

But the bleakest projections have not yet been realized. Despite the mounting number of new confirmed cases each day, public health officials say social distancing, so far, has flattened what might have otherwise been a sharp peak.

Hospitals across the region have not exceeded their ICU bed or ventilator capacity to date. As of press time, health systems in southeastern Wisconsin had a total of 194 available ICU beds, and 1,134 available non-ICU beds, according to Wisconsin Hospital Association data. The region has 511 ventilators available across health systems, with 207 currently in use. 

“People are feeling better … about new cases and the ability to have beds and ventilators than we were feeling two or three weeks ago,” said Dr. Mark Kaufman, chief medical officer at the Wisconsin Hospital Association. “That’s really the good news. (But) we’re certainly not out of the woods.”