Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Ron Kind sent a letter to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Peter Gaynor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar urging them to direct additional resources to Wisconsin in order to keep communities safe amid severe spikes in COVID-19 cases, particularly in counties with universities as students and faculty returned to campuses last week for the fall semester.
“It’s been nearly eight months since COVID-19 reached our shores, and the Administration still has not put in place a national plan to combat the pandemic. Now, this lack of leadership is proving costly here in Wisconsin as our universities returned to in-person classes last week without sufficient guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on how to operate safely,” said Rep. Ron Kind. “Over the last week, Wisconsin has seen an alarming rise in COVID-19 cases, especially in counties with universities. Without additional resources, these trends could quickly result in exponential growth. It’s critical that the Administration provides immediate support to our state and local governments as they work to combat the spread of the virus and ensures counties and cities with universities have the PPE, testing supplies, and resources they need.”
Last week, many universities across Wisconsin returned to in-person classes. Currently, the University of Wisconsin-Madison has suspended in-person learning after more than 1,000 students, and staff tested positive for the virus. The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse also issued a shelter-in-place order and suspended in-person undergraduate classes after a growing number of students tested positive for the virus.
On September 13, 2020, Wisconsin set a single-day new case record with 1,582 new infections reported and a test positivity rate of 20.5%. Wisconsin cities represent 7 of the 20 metro areas in the United States, where rates of COVID-19 are growing the fastest, including three cities in Wisconsin’s Third Congressional District – La Crosse, Platteville, and Eau Claire. La Crosse is seeing the second-fastest rise in COVID-19 cases in the country.
In May, Rep. Kind voted for the HEROES Act, which included more than $1 trillion in funding for state and local governments to ensure they have the resources needed to continue to manage the health and economic consequences of COVID-19. The HEROES Act also provided additional funding for testing and contact tracing and required the Administration to develop a national strategic plan on testing.
Rep. Kind is a member of the Health Subcommittee on the Ways and Means Committee, the most powerful – and the oldest – committee in the House of Representatives. It has jurisdiction over tax measures, the management of public debt, trade and tariff laws, Social Security, Medicare, pensions, and many other economic growth measures.
Read the letter here.