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Capital City Sunday: Preparing for outbreaks in schools, DNC virtual layout & poll worker shortage

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8-6 Cap City Guests FSG

MADISON (WKOW) -- If a COVID-19 outbreak were to occur in our schools, Gov. Tony Evers says he may step in, but believes districts should be the ones to act first.

“You never say never, and if there is a complete breakdown at a school, I would act,” said Evers. “But I’ve seen districts' plans on how to isolate, and I don’t know of a school that doesn’t have a backup plan to go all virtual.”

In an interview on Capital City Sunday, governor says he would rather have districts decide for themselves what do to and work with their local health department if schools wind up seeing a handful of positive coronavirus cases. 

His response comes as some Republicans believe Evers has a plan to order all schools to close due to rising concerns over the pandemic, claims the governor denies. 

It’s also been over a week since Republicans in the Senate said they are ready to come back into session to vote down Evers mask mandate.

Still, there is no sign whether or not Assembly Republicans will support the move. Both chambers need to pass a joint resolution to revoke the mask requirement. 

Evers said the move would be "foolhardy" and believes it could be a sign that some Republicans don't want to take votes on the issue.

"I don’t think it’s going to play well for Republicans politically in Wisconsin," Evers said.

When asked if Evers, the former state superintendent of schools, would grade his administration handling of the pandemic he refused rate himself instead said it's "incomplete."

Now that Wisconsin is on the Chicago quarantine travel list, Evers doesn’t believe issuing something similar is necessary in Wisconsin, citing enforcement issues. He also hopes the restriction can motivate people to take the virus more seriously.

"I like to use Chicago as an example to encourage people to do the right thing so we can get off the stupid list," he said. "It is impossible to close the borders, this virus does not care about county borders and state borders.”

DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL CONVENTION

Now that the Democratic National Convention will be all virtual, one official believes Milwaukee should get another shot oat hosting in 2024. 

Alex Larsy, chairman of the DNC host committee on finance, believes the city should “go for it” but also hopes Milwaukee will see a surge of tourism after it received national attention for receiving the bid to host. 

“I hope Milwaukee summers get so busy that we don’t even have the availability and that Wisconsin has this surge of activity that could make it harder for us to bid for this because of all the focus we’ve now got,” said Lasry.

It was a devastating blow to Milwaukee after the Democratic National Convention announced Joe Biden will no longer make his acceptance speech in Milwaukee. 

The announcement sent shockwaves in the city, many having high hopes of hosting some sort of convention. Now the four-day event starting on Aug. 17 will be all virtual.

“It sucks quite frankly, I’m not going to sugar coat it,” said Lasry. “What we accomplished in beating Miami and Houston to get this bid is something that can’t be taken away from us and as a state, we should feel really proud.”

As for the financial loss, Larsy said he doesn’t believe the city or state will lose out on money from the contracts it had in place with the Democratic National Convention.

“We still have to pay for a virtual event and the host committee is still raining money,” he said.

The four-day event was expected to bring over 50,000 people to Milwaukee and generate over $200 million in economic impact. The virtual event will run through Aug. 20. 

POLL WORKER SHORTAGE, PREPARING FOR TUESDAY’S PRIMARY

As of Friday, Wisconsin clerks are at least 900 poll workers short for the Aug. 11 Fall Partisan Primary, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission.

“We know there are Wisconsinites looking for ways to serve their communities through this difficult time,” said Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief elections official. 

To help, Evers announced the Wisconsin National Guard will assist local election officials as poll workers for elections across Wisconsin.

State election officials are encouraging voters to wear a mask at the polls next Tuesday but say they legally can’t refuse you a ballot if you don’t.

“They (poll workers) still absolutely must still offer their right to cast a ballot on election day,” said Wolfe. 

For those that chose to wear a mask, election officials say poll workers will still be able to identify people by their photo ID such as distinguishing features, eye color, hair, etc. 

Election officials are also encouraging those who have not returned their absentee ballot yet to drop it off at their local clerk's office or have someone do it for you.

They said by now the post office can’t guarantee your ballot will make it back in time for the 8 p.m. deadline on Aug. 11 in order for your vote to count.

Emilee Fannon

Capital Bureau Chief

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