Sunday, January 31, 2021

It's Weird. But it Shouldn't Be.

Overcast winter weather can give you plenty of time to think. I’ve been thinking about feelings and perspectives a lot lately. Since January 20, I and many I know have felt differently than they have for the last few years. Some have slept better. Some think the world is over. It all has to do with US politics, and I felt compelled to list a few things about life right now. 

President Biden hit the ground running. According to, Biden has recorded 24 EO’s so far. 

  • EO 14008: Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad

  • EO 14007: President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

  • EO 14006: Reforming Our Incarceration System To Eliminate the Use of Privately Operated 

  • EO 14005: Ensuring the Future Is Made in All of America by All of America's Workers

  • EO 14004: Enabling All Qualified Americans To Serve Their Country in Uniform

  • EO 14003: Protecting the Federal Workforce

  • EO 14002: Economic Relief Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • EO 14001: A Sustainable Public Health Supply Chain

  • EO 14000: Supporting the Reopening and Continuing Operation of Schools and Early Childhood Education Providers

  • EO 13999: Protecting Worker Health and Safety

  • EO 13998: Promoting COVID-19 Safety in Domestic and International Travel

  • EO 13997: Improving and Expanding Access to Care and Treatments for COVID-19

  • EO 13996: Establishing the COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board and Ensuring a Sustainable Public Health Workforce for COVID-19 and Other Biological Threats 

  • EO 13995: Ensuring an Equitable Pandemic Response and Recovery

  • EO 13994: Ensuring a Data-Driven Response to COVID-19 and Future High-Consequence Public Health Threats

  • EO 13993: Revision of Civil Immigration Enforcement Policies and Priorities

  • EO 13992: Revocation of Certain Executive Orders Concerning Federal Regulation

  • EO 13991: Protecting the Federal Workforce and Requiring Mask-Wearing

  • EO 13990: Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science To Tackle the Climate Crisis

  • EO 13989: Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel

  • EO 13988: Preventing and Combating Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity or Sexual Orientation

  • EO 13987: Organizing and Mobilizing the United States Government To Provide a Unified and Effective Response To Combat COVID-19 and To Provide United States Leadership on Global Health and Security

  • EO 13986: Ensuring a Lawful and Accurate Enumeration and Apportionment Pursuant to the Decennial Census

  • EO 13985: Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government

It’s weird to see so many topics that support so many different people and our environment. But it shouldn't be.

The CDC has revamped their COVID19 screens and added new reports, including a daily community profile report that is currently 33 pages. In it, Wisconsin is now described as a “yellow” state with prolonged high risk of spread. It’s good to see that all our parameters (cases, deaths, positive percentages, new hospital admits, percent beds used, percent ICU beds used) are trending downward. Unfortunately, testing is also going down. Hopefully neither the new fulltime face-to-face school in 6th-12th grade in the WSD that started this week, nor the attempts of our state legislature to remove Governor Evers’s emergency orders (including, but not exclusively, his mask mandate) throughout the state, won’t negatively impact those data trends. Alas, we’ve lost 61 residents in Waukesha County since 1/14 when I last tracked weekly figures. That’s more than 3 a day. In Wisconsin, for every 100 folks who are hospitalized, 24 won’t make it. 

It’s weird to see so much data on the CDC website regarding COVID-19. But it shouldn’t be. 

The White House has established regular press briefings and COVID pandemic briefings. In addition, all agencies have been directed to speak clearly and regularly to the public about what is going on in their areas. The WH transcripts are all posted in a timely fashion on their website. On January 29, Press Secretary Jen Psaki gave a heads up for a trial of giving Biden’s upcoming week’s schedule. 

“Next Monday, the President will meet with the Secretary of State at the State Department.

On Tuesday, President Biden will deliver remarks and sign an executive order advancing his priority to modernize our immigration system.

And Friday is, of course, Jobs Day, and the President will deliver remarks about the economy.”

It’s weird seeing such transparency and breadth of work in the White House. But it shouldn’t be

In EO 14008: Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, the following wording on scientific autonomy is included:

“President Biden will also sign an important Presidential Memorandum on scientific integrity to send a clear message that the Biden-Harris Administration will protect scientists from political interference and ensure they can think, research, and speak freely to provide valuable information and insights to the American people.”

It’s weird to see explicit shout-outs to the autonomy of science and scientists. But it shouldn’t be. 

A number of cabinet members have been confirmed. While they may have histories within the Democratic Party, they passed through the process fairly quickly and Janet Yellen in particular received strong bipartisan support. 




Avril Haines: National Intelligence Director

It’s weird knowing none have direct family or business ties to the current president. But it shouldn’t be.

It’s weird not seeing the president golfing and tweeting rants. But it shouldn’t be.

It’s weird seeing the president bow his head and go to church services and memorials to those who have died to COVID19. But it shouldn’t be.

It’s weird thinking we may actually see shifts at the federal level toward policies that will support people and not “business” and those who control the majority of wealth. But it shouldn't be. 

It’s weird feeling some hope. But it shouldn’t be.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Our Choices Our Dance

School District of Waukesha Board of Education Members Bill Baumgart, Joseph Como Jr., Greg Deets, Patrick McCaffery, Corey Montiho, Kurt O'Bryan, Karin Rajnicek, Amanda Roddy, Diane Voit

School District of Waukesha Superintendent Jim Sebert

School District of Waukesha Deputy Superintendent Joe Koch

Mayor of Waukesha Shawn Reilly

County Executive Paul Farrow

Monday, January 11, 2021

Dear Officials, 

I am writing as a resident and parent to advocate that our schools and community adopt a science-based system with gating against COVID-19 that emphasizes safety for all our citizens, especially our students and teaching staff.

A pediatrician friend here in SE Wisconsin shared the recent article by NPR, How COVID-19 Attacks The Brain And May Cause Lasting Damage with the reflection that they are very concerned about the public not taking this virus seriously enough. We all know today that there is an average 1% chance of death in Wisconsin for those who contract this virus and this now includes 2 of our children aged 10 to 19. In the article, we are shown that there is also the real possibility of developing significant long-term side effects involving the brain. “For many affected patients, brain function improves as they recover. But some are likely to face long-term disability, de Erausquin says.” The damaged brain areas may include parts that control the body, leading to malfunctions in heart rate, blood pressure, and even urinary control. I also recall the Ohio State study in September that showed college athletes with recordable damage to the heart muscle itself after a COVID-19 infection. This virus is NOT the flu. 

I believe the push by some politicians to safeguard entities from potential future COVID-19 litigation is because they know that what they are advocating, pushing to stay open (both businesses and schools) and not adhere to medically-based protocols, are risky and dangerous choices.

We can make different choices. Many scientists and medical professionals have established covid gating criteria for different places around the world. Former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden’s has a great one that includes alert tiers for when and where different ages of school children should be as community viral rates change. While our numbers have gone down, our hospitals are still very busy, rates are “very high” per DHS, and appear to again be rising.

We (all adults everywhere) knew this would be a dance. We (all adults everywhere) knew we’d need to adapt. If rates fell, we could relax. If rates rose, we would need to contract. We (all adults everywhere) have done a poor job at that dance so far because too many sat on the sidelines or even put their feet out to trip those out on the floor. To consider coming back together until we have fewer infections and appreciable levels of vaccinations throughout the community is folly.

We should have done this all months ago. However, it’s not too late as we move forward to finish the second half of the school year. Please do what you can to support and protect our children and staff. Please advocate to those you know within other entities at city, town, and county levels to adopt a strong plan. We need to work together. Please.

As a side note, if nothing new is done locally, and the federal government releases plans for vaccinations and/or viral control when the Biden Administration takes over on January 20, I ask that the school board, the city, and the county accept those plans, promote them, and actively put them into practice. Again, we need to work together. As so many have said before: together we rise, divided we fall.

I thank you for your work and your consideration.


Susan Baumgartner