Health organizations praise Safer At Home extension

By: - April 17, 2020 3:27 pm
Man and woman, senior man lying in hospital bed because of coronavirus infection, female doctor is giving medicine to a patient.

Man and woman, senior man lying in hospital bed because of coronavirus infection, female doctor is giving medicine to a patient. (Getty stock photo)

Count the leaders of more than a dozen major Wisconsin health organizations among those who strongly support the extension of the Safer at Home order declared by Gov. Tony Evers and the Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm on Thursday.

Groups that sent a letter to Gov. Evers supporting his extension of the #SaferAtHome order
Groups that sent a letter to Gov. Evers supporting his extension of the #SaferAtHome order

Fourteen groups sent a joint letter applauding the action, while noting they are sympathetic to the adverse impact the pandemic is having on the state and national economy.

“Recent trends in state and national data are demonstrating that social distancing is effective at helping to flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19. We are encouraged by this progress, recognizing that we will need to continue to evaluate when the state’s Safer at Home guidelines can be further relaxed,” they wrote.

“This is especially true considering that it is still possible that our healthcare system could be overwhelmed in ‘hot spots.’ We agree that the sooner we can relax social distancing guidelines the better; however, this must be done in a fashion that minimizes the risk of an overall surge in cases and regional outbreaks.”

The letter was signed by the CEOs, presidents or executive directors of the Wisconsin Medical Society, the Wisconsin Nurses Association, the Community Living Alliance, the Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources, Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, the Wisconsin Chapter of the Academy of Pediatrics, the Wisconsin Radiological Society, the American College of Physicians-Wisconsin, Wisconsin Academy of Ophthalmologists, the Wisconsin Personal Services Association, the Wisconsin Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and Lakeland Care.

“Such decisions to reopen should be based on sound data, evidence and collaboration, to achieve the best outcomes for everyone,” they wrote.

The letter’s signatories also clearly laid out the steps Evers and DHS endorsed to determine when it will be “safe and reasonable to begin reopening the economy. They wrote that this includes:

  1. Evaluating the rate of the spread of COVID-19 in the state.
  2. Assessing and having the capacity to meet the healthcare needs of the state.
  3. Assessing the state’s capacity for appropriate testing, contact tracing and isolation capacity.
  4. Increasing the availability of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, first responders and other public servants.
  5. Consulting with medical and public health experts.
  6. Assessing the economic needs of the people of Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association (WPHCA) put out a release with a similar message, urging the public to abide by the extended Safer at Home order. “Safer-At-Home is working, and the continued vigilance of the public in following the orders to stay at home serves to protect the gains and advance the goal in ensuring the safety of the public, especially our most vulnerable residents.” 

WPHCA also laid out some standards: “Health Centers recognize that to lift Safer-at-Home in whole or in part, Wisconsin needs to be able to do both widespread and targeted testing, contact tracing, and rapid isolation.” 

Backing up the opinions of Wisconsin healthcare providers is the doctor everyone in America seems to adore, loathe or want to make 2020’s Sexiest Man Alive: Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top infectious disease expert in the country. He did not address the Wisconsin order directly, but he did push back on the opening up the economy immediately argument in an interview Thursday evening.

Asked on Fox News by Laura Ingraham if COVID-19 won’t “disappear” as she asserted SARS did in 2004, he noted the rate of transmission of COVID-19 is unprecedented.

“Anything could, Laura, but I must say that the degree of efficiency of transmissibility of this is really unprecedented in anything that I’ve seen. It’s an extraordinarily efficient virus in transmitting from one person to another. These kinds of viruses don’t just disappear.”


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Melanie Conklin
Melanie Conklin

Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.