By Richie Burke Contributor Published May 18, 2020 at 4:01 PM

As you all know, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court overturned Gov. Tony Evers' "Safer At Home" order last week. But was this the right move? 

On one side, was this really necessary? With no treatment or vaccine, COVID-19 is far from over. The state's test-positivity rate is trending down, but now that we are back in the national spotlight, we are officially an experiment for the rest of the country to watch and hopefully to learn from as we see how the numbers evolve during this sporadic reopening. 

Speaking of the national (and global) spotlight, this is about the time our city and state was going to be highlighted, between a deep Bucks playoff run and bringing in 50,000 people from around the world for the DNC – not for shoving 25,000 Milwaukeeans into five polling locations during the middle of a pandemic and for people rushing to the bars a staggering thirty minutes after the Supreme Court's ruling came out Wednesday evening. 

On the flip side, we have done a good job over the last two months staying in and somewhat flattening the curve. Hospitals have not been overcapacity, and testing capabilities have increased, which were some of the main goals of flattening the curve to begin with. Even so, health care workers have remained significantly overwhelmed, and Aurora Advocate, arguably the hardest working business – yes, business – in the city, reported that revenue last quarter was down $300 million YOY. If one anyone deserves to be profitable right now, it should probably be the hospitals.  

Will there ever be a right time to fully reopen? COVID-19 won’t be completely wiped out until there is a vaccine. That could be in six months, a year, several years or sometime in the very distant future. We really don’t know – and if we can all agree on something, it has been that the information we have been getting from the government and mainstream media has been contradictory and incomplete at best. Are we better off just getting back to work, opening up and taking the risk before our economy bottoms out even further or before we need to pump trillions more into band-aid stimulus packages to keep us afloat. Where does all this money come from anyways? What’s the long term effect of creating money out of thin air as solutions for businesses and individuals? How long can that last? 

On the podcast, we got to hear from five diverse local business and political leaders giving a wide range of perspectives and hot takes. 

What do I think we should do? 

  1. I feel like businesses regardless of industry should be able to open back up with caution. I don’t think it is fair that grocery stores, Home Depot, COSTCO, etc., can be open, but the local gym or retail owner who has worked so hard to get a business off the ground continues to be forced to have its doors shut and get financially hammered right now. Many won’t be able to survive this. Although food is more essential than getting in a workout or going shopping, how much safer is it to go to the grocery store than a gym that takes precautions? I don’t think it’s much safer at all. 

  2. Speaking of stipulations, there should be limited capacity at all businesses so people can remain three to six feet apart. 

  3. Mass gatherings should continue to be banned. I don’t think anyone wins if 17,000 people pack into Fiserv Forum or we flood the Summerfest grounds right now, as much as I would like to do both of those. 

  4. People should have the right to personal choice and should not be penalized for it if possible. Yes, I do think businesses should be able to open back up. I also think if employees are part of an at-risk population or are not comfortable coming in, I respect that and they should be able to stay home/work from home if possible. 

  5. This is a fluid situation. If we get any indication that the curve is reverting back to dangerous growth and cases are increasing to the point that hospitals are at risk of overcapacity, we need to go back to "safer at home" immediately. 

I understand people on both sides, and maybe that is because there is a limited understanding of the situation as a whole. It is unprecedented, testing has been a mess up to this point and no one knows the true extent of this. Will there ever be a right time to re-open in the next couple years? We don’t know. Can the government afford to keep creating money to cover all the damage that not reopening for an indefinite amount of time will continue to do? We also don’t know.

I think the best way to move forward is to re-open with caution and for the government to actually come together and create a straightforward plan of action and solutions opposed to continuing to turn a completely bipartisan issue into a partisan one. Let’s do better.