Petition calls Dane Co. officials to impose tighter restrictions, curb COVID-19

Letter to the Board of Health of Dane County
Letter to the Board of Health of Dane County(WMTV/Michelle Baik)
Published: Jul. 28, 2020 at 9:57 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - While some groups continue to oppose a local mask mandate in Dane County, a letter signed by hundreds is demanding greater control over COVID-19.

“It is insanity,” Malia Jones, a Madison schools parent and an infectious disease epidemiologist, wrote in the letter. “Allowing adults to congregate in bars, restaurants, gyms, retail locations, and private parties is absolutely not essential and is actively compromising the health, safety, and education of the children of our county, particularly the most vulnerable. This is a major failure of the social contract.”

The letter calls on Dane County officials to shut down non-essential businesses and gatherings. It specifically addresses Public Health Madison and Dane County, as well as Madison mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and county executive Joe Parisi.

Parisi responded to NBC15 in a statement about the appropriate next steps for the county. He wrote in part: “Mask wearing and reducing incidents of people gathering together are critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19. Until there is an effective vaccine, they are the best tools we have available.”

Jones cited personal reasons for tighter restrictions, telling NBC15 about the difficulties she faced while working from home and helping her then-kindergartener with virtual learning. She added, “When I think about how this is going to work for other families in the district who don’t have all the advantages that we do, I really worry about those families and how they’re going to fare”

She continued, “I also love small businesses, and I don’t want the small businesses in my community to go under, but I am willing to say that my children’s education and the child equity issues in my county are more important to me than bars being open.”

Zoe Schuler, the owner of Z Boutique, responded to the petition’s call to action, “We’re doing okay here, and the current restrictions are good. But things aren’t getting better overall, so if we could do more, we could do that too.”

Schuler’s boutique, a non-essential business, had re-opened in June after closing under the Safer at Home order. Shutting down again, she said, isn’t “ideal.”

However, “If public health officials realize that’s the best thing for everybody, then we’re 100 percent on board,” she said. “We trust them, and it’s the most important thing to follow the rules and do what we’re supposed to do.”

Parisi continued in his statement to NBC15: “Since implementing limitations on bars and asking people to wear masks, Dane County’s daily rate of new positive cases has declined. Similar measures done on a statewide basis would slow Wisconsin’s soaring case counts which today surpassed 50,000. There are steps that could be taken to slow the more than 800 new cases Wisconsin is seeing each day.”

Mayor Rhodes-Conway declined an interview, but a spokesperson wrote that the mayor is working with Public Health Madison and Dane County, as officials there have the data to make decisions.

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