MMAC calls for gradual reopening of state’s economy starting as early as next week
The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce Board of Directors has unanimously approved a resolution calling for a phased-in reopening of the economy before the end of Gov. Tony Evers’ safer-at-home order.
The resolution suggested that the area could begin a gradual reopening of the economy as early as next week. Evers’ safer-at-home order ends May 26.
Tim Sheehy, MMAC president, said in a statement they supported Evers’ initial order through April 24 due to concerns raised by healthcare leaders over the speed of the disease’s spread and the possibility that healthcare systems could be overwhelmed.
He said that initial order helped flatten the curve spread to the point that a safe reopening of the economy, with measures to protect workers and customers, can begin.
“The extension of this order to May 26 is well-intentioned, and we appreciate the challenge that elected officials face in an unprecedented crisis,” he said. “However, it is time to move forward with a smart restart to build employee and consumer confidence, which is the best cure for our economic ills.”
The board unanimously approved the resolution Friday. Board members include Froedtert Health CEO Catherine Jacobson, Ascension Wisconsin Ministry Market Executive Bernie Sherry, Advocate Aurora Health CEO Jim Skogsbergh and Children’s Wisconsin CEO Peggy Troy.
It also includes Gregory Wesley, a senior vice president at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Tom Westrick, vice president and chief quality officer at GE Healthcare.
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley told reporters Tuesday he hadn’t seen the resolution. But he said it’s important to involve public health officials when talking about reopening the economy as well as leaning on experts on whether the data is trending in the right direction.
“You also have to have business and government at the table as well,” he said. “I think it’s extremely important that we’re all on the same page. So I don’t think it’s healthy for us to support one particular plan when you don’t have enough people at the table.”
Medical College of Wisconsin CEO Dr. John Raymond said the college doesn’t have an official position on the resolution and doesn’t endorse a specific opening date. But he said they think it’s “reasonable and thoughtful.”
“We favor a flexible, metric-driven, carefully phased approach to relaxing safer-at-home,” he told Wisconsin Health News.
He added consumers need to know how to protect themselves, employers need to use best practices for safety and the state needs to have have robust and coordinated testing and public health efforts. And there should also be a mitigation plan in cases there’s a surge.
Most of the data on the indicators seem to be trending favorably and “one can certainly argue we’ve reached an equilibrium with the pandemic in Wisconsin,” he said. But he noted there’s not a downward trend in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and the percent of positive tests out of total tests conducted.
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