By Brian Hoffmann
Sheboygan County Board Supervisor
Health and Human Services Committee Chairperson
Editor’s note: The following statement was submitted by Mr. Hoffmann following new developments in the state legislature. His February 2 comments referenced in this statement follow below.
February 5, 2021
WE ARE OUR BROTHER’S KEEPERS
The arguing continues in Madison. No matter your political leaning, I think you will agree with me, it is ridiculous.
Update: My State Senator Devin LeMahieu and my state Representative Terry Katsma have still not contacted me. I wanted to share with them that I am among the nearly 70% of the people of Wisconsin backing a state wide mask mandate (according to a survey by the Marquette University Law School).
Since my original comments on February 2, I have received a multitude of comments – most were very supportive and a few not so positive. Some of the comments contained some threats. Whatever happened to civil discourse? My comments were given before I gaveled our Health and Human Services Committee meeting to order. I indicated it was “As I saw things”. I was not supporting or arguing against any Sheboygan County Official view on what actions should be taken with the virus at this time. The comments were not made to offend any person or group.
One of the emails that caused me even more to believe that I am doing the right thing was from an individual who lost her father the day before Thanksgiving to Covid. This same individual also lost a friend for the same reason. The person also included in their email, and I quote “Please hang in there. Be well. Thank you for looking out for us.”
I cannot count the number of meetings I have attended (mostly virtual) with Medical Physicians and Healthcare Providers, Law Enforcement Professionals, City and County Elected Officials, Interested Citizens, Nursing Home Directors, Elder Care Home Representatives, and so on. What I have taken away from all these meetings has helped me form opinions on what we should do and what we need to do!
I have been on the County Board for 19 years. I was a City of Sheboygan Alderman for 6 years prior. I have been on the Town of Wilson Board for 20 years. I have no selfish motives. I believe in doing the RIGHT thing and for the good of all! I am not unique in all of this. As I look at my fellow county board members, city officials, county officials, city and county workers, town and village officials, what a great group of leaders and employees.
With that being said, I believe we need to do preventive measures:
1) Madison should quit playing politics with our healthcare. Quit arguing… people are continuing to die.
2) Use the few tools we have to the best of our abilities: A: Masks, B: Social Distancing, C: Proper Hygiene, D: Getting the vaccine if appropriate. Why is it the intent of anyone to take away the tool of masking. It has been proven that it has been effective. While you may feel it is taking away your right of choice, it is not! Is it a prudent choice to possibly harm others by spreading germs? Is it a prudent choice to steal from someone? Is it a wise choice not to pay your taxes? Some choices can result in bad consequences. You always have a choice!
3) Compliment those who are wearing a mask. Do not let anyone make you feel bad for wearing a mask.
4) Patronize those business that are following good healthcare guidelines. In many cases, it results in extra cost for these merchants!
I stand behind what I said February 2, 2021. Here are some things we can do with or without Madison’s help. As of right now there are 34 states that have mask mandates, why not us!
A) Absent Madison’s help I will encourage the County Board of Sheboygan to pass a mask mandate that states: “When in a place open to the public, you must wear a mask. The exception being a documented health condition that prevents you from wearing one.”
B) I will urge (not mandate) people to get the vaccine.
C) I will also work to continue and to strengthen our public information campaign in multiple languages in Sheboygan County.
D) I would ask all citizens to call their state, federal and county officials to urge them to use all the recourses available to fight this deadly virus. The fight is winnable. The virus will not go away on its own.
TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
Editor’s note: The following are Mr. Hoffmann’s February 2, 2021 comments (original statement):
We are the guardians of the health and welfare of every man, woman, and child of Sheboygan County.
Let me give you an update – as I see it! The state legislature has backed away (for the time being) on their ill-thought-out plan to get rid of the Governor’s Emergency Declaration, which includes the State Wide Mask Mandate. Their retreat was caused by the realization that the state would lose over 50 million dollars in federal funding.
The word from reliable sources is that the legislature in now trying to figure out how to get rid of the facemask mandate without losing the funding. Those who control the senate and the assembly are saying that the entire mask issue, and all that goes with it, should be decided by the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. This is just a sneaky way to sidestep the issue and save face. They know the court is dominated by judges that are like minded.
I have tried to contact our State Senator Devin LeMahieu and our State Representative Terry Katsma. Neither legislator or their office has returned my call. I should not have given them my name or told them that I am on the Sheboygan County Health and Human Services Board. I guess I am disappointed, because I know both on a professional level. It is also discouraging that they will not respond to a constituent. Shame on them!
The message I want to give both of them is that politics have no place in health matters. We only have a few tools to work with: masks, social distancing, proper hygiene, and the vaccine. Why is it that their intent is to take away one of our tools? Masks serve a twofold purpose. Number 1: protect the person talking, Number 2: protect the person receiving the message. The anti-mask crowd says: Masks are an infringement on their rights – to which I say “you have no right to pollute the air I breathe with your emitted vapors.”
There are 36 states with mask mandates.
What do they know, that Wisconsin does not know! So, what can we do?
All of us should contact our state legislators and tell them how we feel. Get your friends and neighbors to do likewise. If there is enough noise, they might listen.
Compliment those who wear a mask.
Spend your money at places that practice good hygiene, masking, and social distancing.
Do not let the anti-mask faction bully you.
If the State Legislators outlaw mask mandates, I know what I will do. I will then ask our corporation counsel to draft an ordinance to require masks in public in Sheboygan County. Let us hope it does not come to this. Let us hope that the people we send to Madison will really do what is in the best interest of the people they serve and promote Public Health!
As I sat down last night to write this, the words of an ancient Greek Healer kept coming to mind. He said help your patient in any way you can – but to do no harm. That is the Hippocratic Oath: This is a life and death war. We need to work together to survive. Stay Healthy!!!