MILWAUKEE – In response to the growing threat that the COVID-19 virus poses to Wisconsin communities, and the necessary measures being implemented to mitigate the health and economic effects of the pandemic, State Rep. David Bowen (D-Milwaukee) released the following statement:
“While there is no need to panic over the spread of COVID-19, it has become incredibly clear that we need to take the threat this new disease poses extremely seriously. The rapid spread of COVID-19 elsewhere in the world has shown us that this crisis is likely to get worse before it gets better, and we must all play our part to control its spread. Both in our communities and in government, it is imperative that we take clear and decisive steps in order to protect the health and economic security of our citizens.”
COVID-19, also known as “novel coronavirus,” is a new respiratory disease that has spread incredibly rapidly around the world since originating in China at the end of last year. Recently, the World Health Organization labeled COVID-19 a pandemic, and has called on governments across the world to take rapid and firm measures to protect their populations from the spread of this disease. While COVID-19 is not especially life-threatening to younger people, it has proven very dangerous to older adults and individuals with chronic health conditions. In order to slow the spread of the disease, CDC guidelines urge individuals to wash their hands with soap and water regularly for at least 20 seconds, cover their coughs and sneezes, regularly disinfect “high-touch” surfaces, stay home when sick, and practice “social distancing” by avoiding large group situations and close contact with others. Earlier today, Governor Evers declared a Public Health Emergency in Wisconsin and has designated the state Department of Health Services as the lead agency to respond to this emergency.
“I want to thank Governor Evers for taking the critical step of declaring this Public Health Emergency and empowering DHS to respond to this crisis. At the same time, I want to encourage individuals and organizations to follow the lead of such organizations as the NBA, NHL, NCAA, and others both in the United States and abroad who have cancelled or postponed events in order to protect our communities from the rapid spread of COVID-19. ‘Extreme social distancing’ like this may seem like a drastic step, but it is one of the best tools we have to keep our neighbors healthy.
But in taking these extreme – but warranted – steps to protect public health in the face of COVID-19, we must also be prepared to work together to lessen the economic burdens facing our citizens as a direct result of this outbreak. Many of our citizens will be affected by this, and it is time that we start having real, detailed conversations about ways in which the State can step in to help economically if the Federal Government is incapable of responding effectively. Paid sick leave, low-interest business loans for small businesses and independent contractors, loan, mortgage and rent payment pauses, economic stimulus; we should keep all options on the table.”