Outrage and Exhaustion Mount as State COVID Deaths Top 4,000 Following Months of Inaction on Pandemic Relief



MADISON, Wis.— Today, as hospitals reach capacity, bone-weary nurses alarmed by Republican state legislators’ choice to lift up radical election conspiracy theories while blocking COVID relief spoke up outside the Wisconsin State Capitol. The state legislature has not convened or taken any action on COVID since last spring, even as more than 4,000 Wisconsinites have lost their lives and the virus continues to surge.

Pat, a nurse on the front lines of COVID-19 shared, “We are stressed. We are tired. We are exhausted. But we are still giving our hearts and souls to our friends and family and all Wisconsinites. And what have Wisconsin Republican legislators done? Nothing.”

As the heroic healthcare workers held a banner reading, “Stop The Circus – COVID Relief Now!” a mobile billboard with the same message circulated around Capitol Square urging the public to contact Republican legislators.

“How many more people have to die for politicians to figure this out? Healthcare workers are traumatized. Now for the first time in 8 months, Republicans are back at work. Not about COVID, but for a sham hearing about our election,” said Kate, a frontline healthcare worker.

Registered nurses and other healthcare professionals put their lives on the line every day, working longer and longer hours to care for an ever-increasing number of seriously ill patients. The state GOP has shut down every effort to rein in the virus, yet made the shameless, unconscionable decision to hold a hearing on Friday to air radical conspiracy theories about an election already decided by voters.

Today’s event came on the heels of a virtual roundtable, hosted by Opportunity Wisconsin, Citizen Action Wisconsin Northwestern Organizing Cooperative, and SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, where State Representative Mark Spreitzer was joined by patients and providers from across the Badger State who shared what they urgently need as COVID continues to devastate our communities. Participants called on elected officials to stop the political circus and enact economic and public health relief now.

WATCH: Virtual Statewide Roundtable with Rep. Mark Spreitzer. 

“When people vote, the will of the people is done, and there are some folks in power right now who don’t like the will of the people and will do whatever it takes to make sure that it isn’t done. This hearing is a complete distraction from the COVID response that we need,” said Rep. Spreitzer. “It’s telling to me that the Assembly Health Committee hasn’t had a hearing, the Assembly of Small Business Committee hasn’t had a hearing, the Assembly of Labor Committee hasn’t had a hearing, but instead the Assembly Campaigns and Elections Committee is having a hearing to investigate an election that went smoothly, and that was over more than a month ago.” [WATCH]

“If we don’t get action from the legislature, it’s going to push out the skilled workers, the skilled people like myself who have been in health care for years. That is a massive amount of experience that we would be losing,” said Tammy Kahel, a long term care CNA from Madison. If we feel we are being left behind, and use the metaphor, but being led like lambs to a slaughter, how is that going to keep us in the field? I have tried to take care of the residents to the best of my ability, but like all of us, I’m tired.” [WATCH]

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