Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Judge in relatively-COVID-19-free county has WI statewide masking case, but...

As COVID-19 rampages across Wisconsin, and especially through its more densely-populated southern municipalities, the course of the disease and the politics surrounding it is about to be addressed in more-rural St. Croix County along the Mississippi River in the northwestern Wisconsin.

That's because a judge there has been handed a lawsuit filed against Gov. Evers' masking order by right-wingers allied with the perpetually obstructionist and vacationing GOP-led State Legislature.

One news story yesterday seemed to suggest that the judge might toss the case back to the Legislature:

Judge Questions Need For Court To Rule On Mask Mandate 

Judge Michael Waterman Asked Why Lawmakers Had Not Voted To Overturn The Order If They Object To It

While the judge's ruling may not consider it, I think it's worth looking at how relatively unscathed is St. Croix County by COVID-19.

And let's also look at how dissimilar St. Croix County is from Wisconsin's urbanized counties - census data, here - and their large minority communities where COVID-19 tallies are among state's most severe.

Other noteworthy data points: with 1,066 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 9 deaths, St. Croix County has only minor fractions of the state's more than 134,000+ cases and 1,341 deaths, state data show.

By contrast, Waukesha County has reported 94 COVID-19 deaths, Racine County, 98 and Milwaukee County 545 deaths, the data show.

All off St. Croix County has about 90,000 people, or roughly the population of two City of Milwaukee Common Council districts. 

I'm not discounting the impact of the COVID-19 suffering on St. Croix County families, but I am trying to put it into a statewide context.

Consider also that St. Croix County is overwhelmingly white  - 95.9%, census data show -  with proportionally fewer Black, Hispanic or other minority residents - than heavily-white (87%) Wisconsin, statewide

(Please note the state and federal websites linked to above include some different racial and ethnic categories.)

The Wisconsin data also show disproportionally higher COVID-19 caseloads and death tally percentages statewide for most minorities than  in their statewide population totals.

The St. Croix decision is sure to be appealed by the losing side. 

Stay tuned.


WI GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, shown here in protective equipment after claiming in April that it was "incredibly safe" to go out into the pandemic and vote, has joined a lawsuit aimed at overturning Gov. Evers' subsequent masking order. The case was originally filed in slightly more Republican-leaning Polk County, but a transfer into St. Croix County could lead to a ruling against the plaintiffs wishes. The case will eventually work its way to the State Supreme Court.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Worth mentioning that the Rs were judge shopping when looking for plaintiffs to bring this case - looking for Walker appointees, and settled on Polk Co. where both judges recused themselves. Which is how the one from St. Croix Co. ended up coming in to preside.