In-person voting expected to contribute to spread of COVID-19

Jeff Weber, president of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, says Tuesday’s in-person voting will “undoubtedly” lead to a spike in the COVID-19 infection rate.

“We have nurses and other health care workers who will die because of the work they do,” Weber said during a webinar hosted by U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Milwaukee. “Everyday, we are on the front lines, and this pandemic is about to get far, far worse because of what we witnessed Tuesday.”

Moore (pictured here) said holding in-person voting during the viral outbreak was “absolutely unnecessary,” ripping the move as “one of the most cruel tricks pulled out of the Republican playbook in their very full quiver of tricks to suppress the vote.” She also thanked front-line health care workers for putting themselves in harm’s way to keep people healthy.

“The damage this will cause, we are not ready for it,” Weber said. “We have barebones staffing, insufficient infrastructure and equipment, and a lack of care for the health care workers themselves.”

Moore also touched on some of the factors leading to African-Americans in Wisconsin and elsewhere dying from the virus at higher rates than other groups.

“If you live in the inner city, you have housing conditions that don’t necessarily allow you to social distance as well as other places,” she said. “When you consider the dearth of health care, the lack of health insurance, the underlying health problems — asthma, diabetes.”

Despite these challenges, Moore sees an opportunity for positive change amid the current uncertainty. As more information is gathered about the disproportionate impacts of the virus, she said “it opens the door to a larger discussion about really addressing health care disparities.”

She also bashed the Trump administration’s handling of the pandemic, noting the federal government sent a large amount of personal protective equipment and ventilators to China early on in the outbreak.

“That was a very humanitarian thing, but it left us bereft of equipment while we were in denial,” she said.

Also on yesterday’s webinar, Dr. Steven Weisman with Doctors for America said that citizens of Wisconsin were “unnecessarily exposed” to the risk of contracting COVID-19 by voting in-person Tuesday. 

“I sat at home, aghast, when I saw the images of my fellow citizens lining up with masks, some without,” he said, noting some held signs “expressing their disgust with the way the citizens of our state were treated.”