Virus Outbreak Wisconsin (copy) (copy)

This image taken from video by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services shows Gov. Tony Evers on July 30, 2020, issuing a statewide mask mandate amid a spike in coronavirus cases.

Keeping Wisconsin healthy and safe isn’t a political issue. That’s why we're thankful that Wisconsin has a governor who believes in listening to doctors, nurses and health care professionals, not playing political games.

Gov. Tony Evers has been doing what’s right when it comes to the pandemic and, as a result, Wisconsin has weathered the pandemic better than many other states.

Evers quickly organized one of the best vaccine rollouts in the country, even earning praise from Republicans in the Legislature. Thanks to the governor, if you want to get vaccinated you can do so safely and quickly. Because of Wisconsin’s quick response, our economy has remained strong. We have a record surplus, the largest rainy-day fund ever, and our unemployment rate hasn’t just returned to pre-pandemic levels, it’s at one of its lowest points in Wisconsin history.

Evers has also prioritized Wisconsin small businesses to make sure they have the resources they need to stay open, hire workers, stock shelves and help communities grow. The governor has helped distribute millions in aid, helping up to 84,000 small businesses, and his new Main Street grant program has even helped more than 2,000 small businesses open their doors and revitalize downtown areas across the state.

But our work isn’t done. As new variants crop up we need a governor who will continue to do the right thing and keep our economy strong and families healthy. When the first cases of omicron appeared in Wisconsin, Evers did the right thing and took action to secure additional federal support to help staff hospitals and care facilities, and he's continuing to make sure vaccines are available across the state.

We're also deeply thankful that the governor has taken the time to directly meet with, listen to and support health care workers on the front lines. He helped nurses at Meriter Hospital win a greater say in ensuring safe staffing and quality care. He's met with UW Health nurses who are calling for a union voice to advocate for themselves and their patients. And the governor has backed union rights and hazard pay for essential workers.

For over a year and a half now, frontline health care workers have been confronting this deadly virus every single day when we go to work. Yet, despite the serious risk, we’ve continued showing up because we’re dedicated to providing compassionate care to our patients. And it helps knowing we’ve got a governor who has our back.

Sadly, some politicians don’t share the governor’s commitment. Take Republican extremist Rebecca Kleefisch for example. Kleefisch doesn’t believe the state needs a plan to address COVID and plans to do nothing to address it as governor. Kleefisch is a radical who would rather push conspiracy theories on Facebook and attack hospitals and nursing homes for their COVID safety rules. Kleefisch would make the divisions in this state even worse with her radical and violent language.

Too many Republicans put politics before lives and livelihoods. And the GOP’s candidate for governor would rather brag about flouting COVID safety rules than doing something to slow the spread — because she thinks it benefits her politically. That’s a radically wrong approach.

We’ve lost too many Wisconsinites and too much time. We can’t afford a governor whose plan for the pandemic is to do nothing. We need a governor who will do what’s right for Wisconsin.

Pat Raes has been a registered nurse at Meriter Hospital for 32 years and is president of her union, SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin. Ian Todaro is a recent nursing graduate and works at UW Health. These opinions are their own and do not reflect the views of their employers.

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