Patrick Johnson, a RPSC Member, wrote the following opinion that appeared in the Sheboygan Beacon.

Respect Each Other’s Decisions

I whole-heartily agree with Mr. Hoffmann’s right to free speech and his opinion. There are a few missing items in his opinion piece I’d like to add to the conversation.

When the latest Executive Order is revoked by the Senate and Assembly again, nothing is stopping anyone from wearing a mask or a business enforcing mask policies. People in Sheboygan County are smart enough to make their own healthcare decisions with a doctor’s advice. If a business wants to implement and strongly enforce a mask mandate, customers will decide to either continue shopping at that establishment or patronize a different business. This may sound simple, but it is the basis of free-market economics. Mr. Hoffmann, like everyone in Sheboygan County, is more than welcome to utilize at-home delivery or store pick-up services if you feel unsafe in stores as well as spending your money to support businesses that align with your ideals.

The situation in Madison, regarding Executive Orders declaring a State of Emergency, is a simple matter of following existing Wisconsin Law. This has nothing to do with masks and has everything to do with the unchecked power of the Governor’s office. Gov. Evers has cited, in multiple Executive Orders, WI Statue 323.10 as part of his legal justification. “A state of emergency, shall not exceed 60 days unless the state of emergency is extended by joint resolution of the legislature…  The executive order may be revoked at the discretion of either the governor by executive order or the legislature by joint resolution.” The law is written to ensure the Senate and Assembly are part of the decision-making process as these bodies are closest to We the People. The Legislature has NOT extended the State of Emergency in Wisconsin. On its face, any attempt to extend a State of Emergency past 60 days without the advice and consent of the Assembly and Senate is illegal.

I find Mr. Hoffmann’s statement regarding the Sheboygan County Board being, “guardians of the health and welfare of every man, woman, and child of Sheboygan County,” interesting. What actions will Mr. Hoffmann and the County Board take to fight serious medical conditions, such as heart disease and cancer, as well as other, less dangerous conditions, such as common colds and the flu, county residents face every day? A major subject matter that isn’t being discussed, regarding COVID, is the increased challenges of drug and alcohol abuse and mental health. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, “COVID-19 is compounding drug and alcohol problems across Wisconsin, with opioid overdoses increasing by 117 percent since the start of the pandemic compared to the same time in 2019.” When it comes to mental health, a recent study from Boston University found that, “this unprecedented time has tripled the prevalence of depression symptoms in the US, from 8.5 percent of adults before the pandemic to 27.8 percent as of mid-April.” How will the “Guardians” of the Sheboygan County Board step up and assist residents find the resources they need to combat these challenges?

We should respect each other’s decisions, mask or no mask, vaccine or no vaccine. We don’t know the full extent of everyone’s situation by just walking around and criticizing one another. Perhaps the person being labeled as an “anti-masker” experienced something traumatic and wearing a mask puts them into a mental state of extreme anxiety. Perhaps the person at the gas station wearing a mask has underlying health conditions and is concerned they will contract COVID. I would encourage everyone to do what’s right for their health and live your lives to the fullest each day.

 I would also encourage everyone to contact their local, state and federal elected officials to voice your opinion on how to proceed with issues that are important to you. If the response is not completed in a timely manner, continue to follow-up until you get an answer. We elect our representatives to be guardians of the State and Federal Constitutions.

Stay Strong Sheboygan County.

Patrick Johnson, Kohler WI