Democrats bristle at Wisconsin Republican plans for state workers, vaccine mandate

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Democrats at the Wisconsin Capitol are warning of a resurgence of coronavirus cases because of two new plans from Assembly Republicans.

The plans would require state employees to return to work in-person, and would ban state or local public health managers from requiring anyone get a coronavirus vaccine.

But the bigger disagreement is over the ban on required coronavirus vaccines. Republicans say the ban is about personal choice.

Many state employees in Wisconsin have largely been working from home for the past year. Many state buildings, including the State Capitol, have been closed for months. Republicans say it’s time for state workers to return to their jobs.

“Vaccines are an incredibly effective tool in the fight against the current pandemic, but personal health care choices should always be left to individuals,” Rep. Jon Plumer, R-Lodi, said. “Taking steps to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic shouldn’t require us to step on the rights of Wisconsinites. First Amendment protections and the right to make personal medical decisions shouldn’t go away with a public health emergency.”

Democrats say the ban puts people in danger.

The Democrat’s leader in the Assembly, Rep. Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, said Republicans are playing politics with the virus, and putting people’s lives at risk.

“Instead of following public health advice to help us defeat COVID-19 more quickly, they chose to pander to unbacked claims and beliefs that are contrary to science,” Hintz said after Tuesday’s vote. “Instead of coming together to address urgent issues facing Wisconsinites during a global pandemic, they chose to prioritize political battles that nobody outside of the State Capitol cares about.”

Rep. Sara Rodriguez, D-Brookfield, concurred with Hintz.

“As a nurse, former Epidemic Intelligence Service officer with the CDC, and as a fierce and proud proponent of public health, I am disappointed with the political games that only serve to undermine public health,” Rodriguez said. “We need to continue to follow science, public health, and get vaccinated if we want to return to some sense of normalcy in our everyday lives. The most trusted and respected medical and public health entities all agree that getting vaccinated is a safe, effective way to protect our communities and end this pandemic”

The plans now head to the Wisconsin Senate for a vote.

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