In January, President Trump was briefed by his own intelligence officials on the potential threat of coronavirus should it spread rapidly within U.S. borders, and instead of taking immediate action to prevent the potential pandemic, the president continued to deny its very existence.
Now Wisconsin is feeling the pain. As of today, nearly 600 Wisconsonites are known to have contracted the virus, with 8 reported deaths. And as the U.S. economy craters from the fallout, at least 95,000 Wisconsonites have applied for unemployment benefits since March 17.
While the president is toying with the idea of opening the country again by Easter, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has stepped in in recent weeks to wave work requirements and the one week waiting period for unemployment eligibility. Evers’ directive makes it easier for unemployed or laid-off workers to receive much needed financial relief in the absence of federal relief from the president.
And without a federal mandate from the White House, Wisconsin is lacking the testing capabilities and protective masks needed to combat the sprawling crisis. Just a week after President Trump claimed that “anybody that wants a test can get a test,” Wisconsin health care workers were unable to access tests for themselves due to their heightened risk of contracting COVID-19.
“At the present moment, there is not enough capacity to test every person, or even every person with respiratory symptoms,” Ryan Westergard, the chief medical officer of the Wisconsin State bureau of communicable diseases said.
All the while many nurses and other health care workers in Milwaukee – the states most populous city – reportedly have had no protective masks or were required to wear one single-use mask in hospitals throughout an entire workday.
Trump has yet to use the full power of the Defense Production Act, which authorizes the U.S. supply chain to produce medical equipment such as ventilators and masks to combat the rapidly spreading coronavirus outbreak.