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“Stay home:” Evers urges self-imposed lockdown as COVID-19 rates shatter records

“They didn’t think it would happen to them, and then it did.”
Gov. Tony Evers addresses latest COVID-19 numbers during a Dept. of Health Services' news...
Gov. Tony Evers addresses latest COVID-19 numbers during a Dept. of Health Services' news conference on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020.((WMTV))
Published: Oct. 27, 2020 at 6:38 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - “Stay home.”

Those two words were at the heart of Gov. Tony Evers entire message to the people of Wisconsin when he sat down to deliver Tuesday’s COVID-19 update or when he took to social media soon afterwards.

“There is no way to sugarcoat it. We are facing an urgent crisis,” Evers said during the news conference when the state’s top health officer revealed the state surpassed by wide margins its previous highs for new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

When announcing more than 5,000 new COVID-19 cases were reported in the last day alone, Dept. of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm pointed out that number is nearly twice as high as this time last month and more than five times higher than two months ago.

Palm also noted 64 more had died from complications related to coronavirus, which far surpassed the state’s previous single-day high of 48 deaths set a week ago.

Asked if he was suggesting people enter a self-imposed lockdown, Evers framed the issue as one focused squarely on saving lives, dismissing the lockdown phrasing and arguing that COVID-19-related deaths can be prevented.

“If that’s considered a self-imposed lockdown – whatever it is, it’s important,” he added.

The Democratic governor also accused the White House of giving up on the issue and “focusing on things that are down the road and down the road is allowing lots of people to pass away,” an apparent reference to President Donald Trump’s Chief of Staff Mark Meadows' statement that the Administration is “not going to control the pandemic” and will instead focus on therapeutics and vaccines.

Evers urged everyone in Wisconsin to stop thinking COVID-19 is something that only happens elsewhere and described the pandemic as “an imminent risk to you, your family members, your friends, your neighbors and the people you care about.”

Echoing the flatten the curve calls from the early days of the pandemic, the governor described staying at home as “the safest and best thing we can do” to ease the strain on Wisconsin hospitals, which have been flooded with COVID-19 patients in recent weeks.

With 220 more people hospitalized in the past day – which was another daily record broken Tuesday – DHS now reports more than 1,300 people are hospitalized with the virus. Between them and patients admitted for other reasons, 84% of all hospital beds across the state are currently filled.

Evers' desire that people take a lockdown-style approach to the pandemic appears also to be rooted in the confusion created by conflicting court rulings and inconsistent messaging at differing levels of government. He described the back-and-forth court battles and their associated injunction rulings as creating a “whiplash” effect that has hampered the effect other orders may have had.

Additionally, Palm lamented the inconsistent messaging about the pandemic, whether it’s between the White House and Madison or between state and local governments or between Democrats and Republicans, “the problem is we haven’t had a consistent message.”

So when Evers took to Twitter on Tuesday, he took his message down to the personal level, recounting, “We’ve heard story after story of folks who wish they would’ve taken this seriously and taken precautions sooner—they didn’t think it would happen to them, and then it did.”

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