To the editor:
(Re: “Taking precautions in public against COVID-19 is a moral imperative,” May 28, 2020) Six weeks ago, you published our letter appealing to local area residents and businesses to wear masks in public and maintain safe distances to protect themselves and others from the spread of COVID-19.
The virus has been steadily growing in Wisconsin in recent weeks. When we first wrote our letter there were over 13,000 Wisconsites infected and now the number has tripled to nearly 40,000, and deaths have jumped 60 % from nearly 500 to over 800.
Fond du Lac county is now one of 11 counties in the state where the rate of increase in infections is over 10%.
This past week, the Wisconsin Council of Churches issued a strong letter to the Wisconsin legislature to take bi-partisan action.
“An ongoing pandemic requires a more significant response than individual choice, businesses choosing their own policies, or mobilizing local health departments,” they insist. “We need a stronger solution in place to control COVID-19 than what we have had available to us since late May,” when state-wide restrictions by the governor were struck down in court.
The Council argues “you have a clear moral imperative to act within the Legislative Branch to prevent further illness and death among Wisconsinites.”
Their letter implores the legislators swiftly to take several specific actions including:
- Grant the Department of Health Services authority to respond to urgent/emergent public health needs of the COVID-19 crisis without going through the lengthy legislative rulemaking process.
- Allow for statewide data-driven, phased openings and closures of businesses with appropriate guidelines for masking, physical distancing, and limited gathering sizes. This should include the possibility of a “Stay at Home” order, should conditions warrant.
- Allow for local requirements to exceed statewide requirements based on local conditions.
The letter concludes, “We pray that you will examine your conscience and find a course of action which will allow you to work across political and other differences to meet these critical needs.”
We members of the Ripon Area Clergy Association (RAMA) endorse these recommendations and appeal to our local elected Assemblypersons and Senators to work for bi-partisan action in the state legislature to enact these measures to protect against further spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin.
— Brian Smith, on behalf of the Ripon Area Ministerial Association (RAMA)
RAMA Members include:
Linda DeCramer, moderator, Prairie Lakes Unitarian Universalist Fellowship; Rev. Jeffrey Dodson, pastor, First Congregational Church; Rev. Davies Edassery, pastor, St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church; Rev. Harsha Kotian, pastor, Immanuel United Methodist Church; Rev. Sue Sheffer-Meyer, Grace Lutheran Church; Sue Mokler, Grace Lutheran Church; Rev. Kevin Mundell, Our Saviour’s United Church of Christ, president of RAMA; Rev. Ezgi Saribay Perkins, pastor, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church; Rev. Karen Gygax-Rodriguez, pastor, Federated Church of Green Lake; Peg Salmela, Chaplain, Hospice Hope of Green Lake; Brian Smith, professor emeritus of religion, Ripon College