The Two Weeks that Didn’t Kill Wisconsin

It’s been two weeks to the day since the Wisconsin Supreme Court reopened the state. Dan O’Donnell wonders why all the doomsday predictions about skyrocketing infection and death rates failed to come true.

May 27, 2020

Guest perspective by Dan O’Donnell

Two weeks ago today, Wisconsin signed its own death warrant.  If the hysterical shrieking from both the Evers Administration and its allies in the media was to be believed, four conservative justices on the Wisconsin Supreme Court effectively ended life as we know it in the state.

“We’re the Wild West,” Evers told MSNBC just hours after the Supreme Court struck down his “Safer at Home” order on May 13th and people flocked to the few bars that immediately reopened. “There is nothing that’s compelling people to do anything other than having chaos here.”

“This turns the state to chaos,” Evers said in a conference call with local reporters that same evening. “People will get sick. And the Republicans own the chaos.”

“Chaos it was,” The Washington Post dutifully echoed.  “It’s a situation unlike any in the United States as the pandemic rages on. But most of all, Evers feared that the court’s order would cause the one thing he was trying to prevent: more death.”

More death, Wisconsin was repeatedly assured, was an absolute certainty.

“This action will inevitably lead to more sickness and more death,” insisted longtime Democratic attorney Michael Maistelman, who has occasionally represented Evers. “The court will have blood on their hands and the people of Wisconsin will not forget.”

“This is dangerous madness,” tweeted Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Ben Wikler.  “No matter where you live, the nightmare Republicans inflict here may soon arrive at your door.”

Wisconsin hasn’t seen a sudden spike in cases, hospitalizations, intensive care visits, or deaths.  Two weeks to the day after the Supreme Court reopened the state, Wisconsin is…perfectly fine.

So despondent was The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel over the devastation that the ruling was sure to cause that it wrote a rare editorial literally begging its readers to save us all.

“It’s up to us,” the paper wrote on May 14th, the day after the decision was published.  “We can’t count on our elected representatives to work together for the public good in Wisconsin. They have proven themselves utterly incapable of compromising even in an emergency to come up with a sensible plan to protect the health of our most vulnerable friends, neighbors and family members.”

Unfortunately, without the protection of a lockdown order, Governor Evers predicted that there was simply nothing anyone could do.

“We’re going to have more cases,” he said.  “We’re going to have more deaths. And it’s a sad occasion for the state. I can’t tell you how disappointed I am.”

Two weeks to the day after he spoke those words, none of the doomsday predictions have come true.  Not a single one.  Wisconsin hasn’t seen a sudden spike in cases, hospitalizations, intensive care visits, or deaths.  Two weeks to the day after the Supreme Court reopened the state, Wisconsin is…perfectly fine.

Governor Evers might want to call it the Mild West.

On May 13th, the day of the Supreme Court ruling, Wisconsin saw 291 new cases of Coronavirus out of 4,363 tests for a positive test rate of 6.3%.  Since the virus has an incubation period of between three and 14 days (with an average incubation of five days), the state would expect a massive spike in both positive tests and the positive test rate by today—two weeks after the state reopened—if the reopening was indeed responsible for such a spike.

There hasn’t been a spike in either.  Five days after the court’s ruling on the 13th, the state saw just 144 positive tests even though there were far more total tests (4,828) done than on the 13th for a positive rate of 2.9% on May 18th.

Eight days later, on May 26th, the positive test rate was 3.6% (279 positive tests out of 7,495 total).  Just twice has the positive rate hit or topped 8% since the Supreme Court’s ruling.  By contrast, in April the positive test rate routinely hit 10% per day.  Two weeks to the day after Wisconsin reopened, neither the number of new cases per day nor the percentage of positive tests has even come close to spiking.

Neither has the number of hospitalizations or ICU visits.   In none of the state’s seven regions has there been even a tiny bump per day.  Instead, the numbers have been remarkably consistent throughout the outbreak, suggesting that the reopening has had little to no effect at all on the hospitalization rate and thus the severity of the disease’s impact.

As if that wasn’t enough to disprove the hysterical predictions of death and destruction made just two weeks ago, the virus has somehow become less deadly since Wisconsin started to reopen.

In the 13 days since the Supreme Court’s ruling, there have been 96 Coronavirus deaths for an average of 7.3 per day.  In the 13 days immediately preceding the Court’s ruling, there were 105 Coronavirus deaths for an average of 8.07 per day.

If Wisconsin signed its own death warrant when the Supreme Court struck down “Safer at Home,” then the signature must have been forged.  In no way has the state become a more dangerous place since it reopened.  The “chaos” that Evers repeatedly predicted has been proven to be as nonsensical a forecast as the death and destruction the Governor and his fellow Democrats insisted would result from an in-person election on April 7th.

“Tomorrow in Wisconsin, thousands will wake up and have to choose between exercising their right to vote and staying healthy and safe,” Evers said the day before the vote.

In no way has the state become a more dangerous place since it reopened.

“This thing in Wisconsin was one of the most awful things I’ve ever seen in my life,” Democratic strategist James Carville said on Election Night. “Just the extent they’ll go to to hold on to power. It was all about one Supreme Court seat in Wisconsin. They will kill people to stay in power, literally.”

They literally didn’t, and the numbers proved it.  Two weeks after the election, the infection, hospitalization, and death numbers were nearly identical to the two weeks that preceded the in-person vote.

Two weeks after Wisconsin reopened, the numbers tell the same story: The hysterical predictions were just that.  The Supreme Court didn’t infect the state; Wisconsinites didn’t die en masse because the government could no longer keep them locked in their homes.

And now they’re going to start wondering why they should ever be fooled by hysterical predictions of death and destruction again.