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New coalition forms to “Stop the COVID Spread”

Published: Oct. 9, 2020 at 6:05 PM CDT
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(WSAW) - As Wisconsin grows as a COVID-19 hotspot, a coalition of 25 organizations is coming together, begging people to do their part to stop the spread.

Health care facilities are becoming overwhelmed in the state as the state continually breaks records for the number of new COVID-19 cases, deaths, increasing the number of patients in hospitals and intensive care units in all regions of the state. Hospitals, businesses, and schools are losing employees to quarantines and isolations because of the virus. Families are feeling financial strains, stress from having kids and parents work from home, along with others who are physically battling the virus and its after-effects.

“We trail only California and Texas in the number of new cases in the last seven days, despite our population being much smaller than both those states,” said Dr. Mark Kaufman, Wisconsin Hospital Association’s (WHA) chief medical officer.

All of those challenges are bringing this group of organizations together, pleading with the general public and the people these organizations represent, to do their part.

“This diverse, and I predict, growing group rapidly came together and even more impressive, it’s a coalition representing the gamut of industries across Wisconsin, restaurants, realtors, grocers, gas stations, manufacturers, the state chamber of commerce, tech companies, telecommunications, county and municipal governments, banks, builders, the University of Wisconsin System and, of course, healthcare. These are some of Wisconsin’s most influential organizations, now aiming that influence at COVID,” Eric Borgerding, WHA President and CEO said.

While many people are doing their best to follow guidelines and best practices to stop the spread of COVID-19, others have actively not done so, or have grown tired of trying, that includes individuals and businesses.

“It is a two-way street. The protocol set in place out of business is only as good as how they’re followed both by the business and those who patronize the business,” Kristine Hillmer, Wisconsin Restaurant Association’s president and CEO said.

“One of the primary reasons we pulled this coalition together was to speak with a very loud and unified voice to all of Wisconsin, to our members of our public, to our businesses, to our organizations, and through our organizations, really to encourage them, take COVID seriously, and start really diligently adhering to these really simple precautions,” Borgerding said.

Those precautions are the same that have been repeated over the last several months: wear a mask, social distance, disinfect, wash your hands, and limit gatherings.

“Many of us are done with COVID-19. Unfortunately, the pandemic is not done with us,” Kurt Bauer, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce’s president and CEO said.

“We all understand that this is not always easy or comfortable and that the individualism in Wisconsin is alive and well," Hillmer began, "but for the health and wellness of Wisconsin citizens, and the survival of business, including independent and family-owned restaurants, working together is more important than ever to beat the spread.”

She encouraged people to support local businesses, adding that even at 25% capacity, dining in at restaurants can be safe when precautions are taken by both the business and patrons.

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