July 28, 2021

Wisconsin is battling America’s worst coronavirus outbreak, and the state’s broken politics are partly to blame

Look at a map of daily COVID-19 cases in the U.S. Most of the Northeast and West Coast is yellow, indicating limited spread. The numbers across the Southeast tend to be moderate, or orange. Move into the Upper Midwest and more red hot spots start to appear.

And then there’s one state that’s covered in crimson: Wisconsin.

Right now Wisconsin is battling the worst coronavirus outbreak in America. The question is why. What about Wisconsin is different from, say, the neighboring states of Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois, where the virus isn’t spreading nearly as fast?

The answer, at least in part, is politics: specifically, the brand of cavalier, it-will-go-away politics propagated by President Trump and parroted by lower-level Republicans who seem hell-bent on resisting efforts to sustain social distancing and mask wearing when the spread is still low enough to contain — and in Wisconsin’s case, who continue to resist even after infections spiral out of control.

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