An Open Letter to the People of Wisconsin

Wisconsin, we love you. Many of us grew up here, others chose to live here. We all work to serve you. We will do anything we can to take care of you. You are our neighbors and our family.

Sometimes you have to have hard conversations with family.

Inside our hospitals, we have patients gasping for breath, needing a ventilator to survive and too often dying. Many of them were walking around healthy just days before. Some tell us they didn’t think COVID-19 was serious. Others say they just wanted to live their lives and get back to normal.

Outside our hospitals, we still see big gatherings with no masks. We hear about Thanksgiving dinner plans that will send even more people to our already very full COVID-19 units — units full of patients who might not survive a fight with this virus.

Wisconsin is in a bad place right now with no sign of things getting better without action. We are, quite simply, out of time. Without immediate change, our hospitals will be too full to treat all of those with the virus and those with other illnesses or injuries. Soon you or someone you love may need us, but we won’t be able to provide the life-saving care you need, whether for COVID-19, cancer, heart disease or other urgent conditions. As health care providers, we are terrified of that becoming reality.

But like many families facing a crisis, we can rally together and take action to get through this one. You’ve heard these recommendations a thousand times, but if the thousand and first time makes an impact it’s all worth it. If you stop the spread to one person, it’s worth it:

  • Avoid gatherings that put you at risk, not just with strangers but extended family members, too. Not just big parties and rallies, but happy hours, conferences and sporting events.
  • Wear a mask. They really do work, and they save lives, including your own.
  • Wash your hands, often.

We don’t need to do this forever. We all await the arrival of vaccines that will help us get back to some sense of normalcy. But the virus is here now and the vaccines are not.

Wisconsin, you are our family. Our only hope right now is you. Please work with us to get through this pandemic.

Signed by UW Health faculty, staff and colleagues from around the state,