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Medical Dissent

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP, File

MADISON — Some on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle are questioning the Evers administration’s Safer at Home order.

A Milwaukee-area Registered Nurse (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) says she may be in the minority among her fellow nurses, but she cannot accept the “at all costs” train of thought in protecting the public against COVID-19.

“This is not World War II, not the bubonic plague,” the nurse, who asked not to be identified, told Empower Wisconsin. “COVID is a disease we will never be rid of, much like influenza that the vaccine recipe changes every year because the strain mutates.”

As Empower Wisconsin first reported, 397 people were hospitalized, as of Monday, with the novel coronavirus, representing about 0.0068 percent of the Badger State’s population. The state has a total of 11,902 hospital beds, with 4,385 of those immediately available, according to he Department of Health Services’ “Hospital Capabilities” webpage.

What will not change, the nurse said, is the “irreparable destruction we are causing to people’s ability to earn a living and remain off of the government dole.”

“This isn’t about COVID anymore. Gov. (Tony) Evers is attempting to bypass his executive limits by usurping Wisconsin constitutional powers,” said the medical professional, who previously worked for a decade as an advanced Emergency Medical Technician.

She urges Wisconsin lawmakers to stand up for their constituents, and the Constitution.

The governor’s emergency lockdown, which he recently extended until May 26, has forced the shut down or drastic reduction of a significant swath of what Evers deems “nonessential businesses.”

Some 400,000 Wisconsinites — and growing —  are out of work. The Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy (CROWE) last week reported that north of 16 percent of Wisconsin is jobless — more than 6 full percentage points higher than the peak of the Great Recession. More than a quarter of the working population could be unemployed when all is said and done, according to some projections.

The Milwaukee-area nurse who spoke with Empower Wisconsin is not alone. 

Others have raised concerns that the cure will prove deadlier than the disease.

In an op-ed earlier this month for USA Today, microbiologist Alex Berezow wrote that the consequences of the lockdowns are “potentially devastating and irreversible.”

“With little to no public input, we eagerly have given up our basic rights, decided that economic health is entirely subservient to public health, and radically altered how our society functions,” wrote, Berezow, a Ph.D, vice president at the American Council on Science and Health, analyst at Geopolitical Futures, and a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors.

On Monday, Gov. Tony Evers rolled out his so-called “Badger Bounce Back” plan, a glacial pace restart of Wisconsin’s economy and road to “normalcy.”

Beyond locking down the state until coronavirus case numbers show two weeks of decline trends, Evers says his plan “works to bolster healthcare system capacity.” Capacity, according to the data and, more so, reality, doesn’t seem to be a problem. There are hospital floors in the state devoted to COVID-19 patients that are near-empty or have yet to be used.

The sad irony, as MacIver News Service reports, is that hospitals and health care centers across the state have had to furlough or layoff medical professionals because COVID-19 care has taken priority over “elective” surgeries and procedures. Yet, the worst of the predictions have not panned out.

As Berezow notes, the U.S. has 34.2 critical care (ICU) beds per 100,000 people — the highest in the world — compared to 12.5 in Italy (and 29.2 in Germany).

Evers has said he will base his decisions on science and health care data. Microbiologist Berezow points out an important fact: Infectious disease models, which attempt to predict how widespread and how deadly COVID-19 will be, vary considerably.

The Milwaukee-area nurse tells Empower Wisconsin the public health over-reaction has gone on too long.

“The response has long surpassed the threat,” she said. “Open Wisconsin in the name of reality.”

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