Governor also expresses concern over the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin.
Gov. Tony Evers criticized the federal response from President Donald Trump’s administration during a discussion with health care providers and advocacy groups Tuesday, saying more should have been done from the start to provide states with equipment and supplies to combat the virus.
“If the federal government would have right from the get-go said that we are going to take care of equipment or we are going to take care of testing, which they could have, it would have put us in a much better place than we are in today,” said Evers during the discussion coordinate by Protect Our Care and Opportunity Wisconsin.
Instead, Evers said Trump has repeatedly downplayed the virus, which makes it harder for the economy to recover, left states to bid against one another for testing strips and other supplies, and sent out mixed messages about infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“I don’t know how you can spend your time belittling and demeaning a person and then continue to say he’s your friend and he is a leader in this area,” Evers said. “ It couldn’t be weirder. I don’t know how else to put it.”
On Wednesday, there were 870 new coronavirus cases and five deaths, bringing the total number of residents to die from the virus to 911. Of patients testing positive, there were 46 new patients hospitalized and 326 are being treated on ventilators.
Sixty-one of the state’s 72 counties are reporting “high levels” of virus activity, compared to 58 last week.
Evers said the Trump administration and Republicans have “spent more time villiananizing science and safety than working to contain this virus.”
The pandemic has, among other things, highlighted the lack of access to affordable health care in Wisconsin and the disparities among communities of color, he said.
Evers said every candidate running for office should be asked if they would vote in favor of expanding Medicaid, a proposal that Republicans lawmakers in Wisconsin have opposed since it became an option under the Affordable Care Act. Wisconsin is one of only 13 states not to accept the additional federal funding, a move that has cost the state more than $1 billion.
“It is a simple question. Any candidate, I don’t care if you’re a D or an R, should be able to answer that question,” said Evers. “And if it’s no, you know who to vote for … the person who said yes.”
Evers ended by saying that since there have been “minimal plans and efforts from the federal administration, the Trump administration, to combat the virus,” it has fallen to state and local officials to keep Wisconsin residents safe.
He said every adult and child that can wear a mask should be wearing one and reiterated the need for social distancing and the need to not attend gatherings with large groups of people.
While 30 states now have mask ordinances, Wisconsin does not and is the only state without a mask ordinance with a Democratic governor. Republican lawmakers sued the Evers’ administration over the extension of the safer-at-home ordinance. In May, the conservative-led state Supreme Court sided with the Republicans and terminated the order.
On a recent call with reporters, Evers was asked if he would have any hesitation over ordering a statewide mask ordinance if there was no possibility of another Republican-led lawsuit. His answer was a firm “no.”
“I’m not pessimistic but I am very concerned where we are as a state during this pandemic,” Evers said.