Ahead of critical week for state response to coronavirus surge, Democrats say GOP ‘acting as if they’re pro-COVID’

NOW: Ahead of critical week for state response to coronavirus surge, Democrats say GOP ‘acting as if they’re pro-COVID’

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – As coronavirus continues to surge through Wisconsin and push health care systems to their limits, Governor Tony Evers faces a critical week in addressing the ongoing crisis.

On Monday, the state Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in a case challenging one of the governor’s emergency orders that includes the statewide mask mandate. Evers’ current mask mandate also expires later in the week.

Evers is also set to roll out new coronavirus legislation, but there are doubts whether he can get Republican support behind it.

“[Republicans] are not in favor of mandating anything and that makes it more difficult,” Evers said in a briefing Thursday.

Following Gov. Evers’ statewide address on Tuesday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R – Rochester) expressed pushback over the governor’s approach.

“The idea of saying somehow we’re going to shut down businesses and we’re going to go through this whole rigmarole that we did in the spring, that did not work,” Vos told reporters. “We need more voluntary compliance.”

Vos said he was open to policies that may help increase testing and help with staffing shortages in the health care industry. Vos said he preferred a more collaborative effort rather than the governor rolling out legislation that the Assembly and Senate could vote on.

“Let’s sit down and talk about this and find the areas where we can get consensus and have that common ground,” Vos said.

But Democrats in the Legislature say the crisis presents an urgency.

“Frankly the time for meaningful debate is long past, and it’s time to say we need to take some immediate action before more lives are lost,” Sen. Chris Larson (D – Milwaukee) told CBS 58 in an interview Saturday.

CBS 58 reached out to other Republicans for comment Saturday but they were either unavailable or the requests were not returned.

Larson and other Democrats believe the GOP resistance to things like a mask mandate or public gathering restrictions is hurting the state’s ability to respond to the pandemic.

“Unfortunately we’re seeing we don’t have willing partners in the Republicans who are elected to office where, frankly, they are acting as if they’re pro-COVID by not allowing the governor’s authority to move forward,” Larson said.

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