Wineke: Well, of course we need a mask mandate

Gov. Tony Evers has extended the statewide mask mandate through late November.

Republican leaders of the Senate and Assembly responded by calling the order “not valid and not worth the paper it is printed on.”

It’s probably unfair but, perhaps, not inaccurate, to speculate that Sen. Scott Fitzgerald and Rep. Robin Vos want to see more Wisconsin residents die of the Covid-19 virus.

Their argument, after all, is that Evers is exceeding his authority by declaring states of emergency as his reason for dictating the use of masks. They argue that Evers should bargain with the legislature before doing so.

However, neither Fitzgerald nor Vos has convened the legislature to do so. They, obviously, like the idea of having cake and eating it, too. They can revel in the idea that Evers will be blamed for an unpopular mandate and proclaim ever-so-piously that they have the votes to overturn the mandate – but they don’t do it.

The Wisconsin Legislature has not met since April.

It is now late in September.

Evers’ first mask mandate began in July, when Covid-19 cases were spiking in Wisconsin. It was opposed by the same crowd that now opposes it. But that time they convinced the Wisconsin Supreme Court to weigh in. The court pretty much voided Evers’ ability to do anything about the virus. The mandates we live under now are pretty much county-ordered.

When the first mandate was in force, cases of the virus dropped. When Evers was castrated, they started to rise up.

Right now, national reports tell us that of the 20 communities in the nation with the greatest number of Covid cases per 100,000 residents, seven are located in college towns in Wisconsin. Some 1,251 state residents have died of the disease.

On average, 1,838 Wisconsin people are diagnosed with the disease every day. Most will be fine. Some will end up with health problems that may well harm them for the rest of their lives. Some will die.

Now, if Vos or Fitzgerald, or the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which is always eager to get in the way of anyone trying to help a situation, were serious in their complaints, you might think they might try to help.

The legislature, for example, could come back into session. It could even pass its own mask legislation, which would make Evers’ orders unnecessary.

Or, conversely, the legislature could vote down the mandate and take the blame for dead residents on its collective shoulders.

No one has ever said Evers is infallible. But, right now, he’s the only person around who has the responsibility for acting and who is willing to exercise that responsibility.

I don’t know how many Wisconsin residents died because the Supreme Court invalidated Evers’ efforts to combat this virus. All I know is that we were getting better before and we are getting worse, far worse, now.