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Marathon County counsel pours cold water on Covid-related resolution

By Shereen Siewert,


Damakant Jayshi

Marathon County Corporation Counsel Michael Puerner categorically told supervisors Thursday that the county has no authority to mandate vaccination or force isolation, amid a discussion on a resolution to prevent COVID-19 mandates.

No such mandates have been proposed and no vote on the resolution was taken, since the meeting Thursday was an educational session. A vote is expected Tuesday when the full board meets. But the impact of next week’s vote is unclear, as Puerner stated unequivocally that the county does not have the statutory power to mandate such issues.

“I think, in effect, this is a declaration to other government entities,” Puerner said. “It doesn’t have the force of law to overturn anything. The county does not have the statutory authority granted by the state to act in this area.”

Aware of those statutory limitations, the supervisors who defended the proposed resolution framed it as a response to perceived “tyranny” of federal, state and local governments and as a way to protect their freedom.

“My body, my choice,” one supervisor said.

The discussion comes amidst reports of new mutations of the coronavirus infecting an increasing number of people nationwide.

Supervisor Stacey Morache, who brought forward the resolution, said there were “clear signs” that the country could be headed toward COVID-19 mandates, similar to those imposed early in the pandemic. She introduced the draft two weeks ago at the Health and Human Services Committee. During the discussion on her resolution, a speaker blamed Jews for creating and using a“Covid agenda” to manipulate the people.”This an oft-repeated claim on conspiracy websites.

There are no such mandates under public consideration at the local or federal level. The White House, in its Covid-19 preparedness strategy unveiled last year, includes measures to prevent economic and educational shutdowns.

Moreover, as The Associated Press has reported, there are no signs of widespread COVID-19 mandates emerging in the United States. But this hasn’t prevented warnings about the possibility of those being introduced in the future.

Among the several claims Morache made on Thursday was that the new international agreement that the World Health Organization is working on will take away the sovereignty of individual countries, including the U.S.

“The new WHO treaty, of which the United States plays an integral part, shifts power away from sovereign states to unelected bureaucrats at the WHO,” said Morache. Every change made to this treaty centralizes power to the WHO and supersedes our own Constitution. This is not hyperbole.”

WHO officials say otherwise.

Regarding whether the accord is legally binding and whether it will take away sovereignty from signatory countries, the WHO speaks of “the importance of national sovereign rights and full respect for the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons.”

The WHO also clarifies that countries will determine their own laws and regulations. “As with all international instruments, any new accord, if and when agreed by Member States, would be determined by governments themselves, who would take any action while considering their own national laws and regulations.” It adds that the countries will decide the terms of the accord, “including whether any of its provisions will be legally binding on Member States as a matter of international law.”

Residents recount impact of Covid while supporting resolution

All 19 people who spoke during public comments supported the resolution Morache proposed. Some of them said they lost loved ones and jobs because of pandemic-related restrictions and vaccination requirements.

Sue Hoenecke said she lost her job for refusing to take the Covid vaccine despite getting a religious exemption. Voigt Smith said the mask mandates were ineffective and unethical. Another speaker, Melinda DeGier, said mandates are terrible in all regards.

Some speakers who said vaccines have been harmful referred to adverse reports as proof of risks of vaccines. Conversely, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have said vaccines are safe and that serious side effects are rare.

The speakers were referring to VAERS, a reporting system for adverse reactions. But the CDC has repeatedly emphasized that many initial reports are unverified, and thus cannot be relied upon. “As time has passed and more safety data have accumulated, the initial finding has decreased, and scientists believe factors other than vaccination might have contributed to the initial finding,” the CDC website points out. “The current evidence does not support the existence of a safety issue.”

The AP has reported that CDC data on COVID-19 vaccine deaths has been mischaracterized. “Claims about the safety of the vaccines based on data from VAERS have been debunked by The Associated Press on multiple occasions,” the wire agency reported in January.

Many Covid-related deaths were preventable

Despite the proven safety of COVID-19 vaccines in preventing death and hospitalizations, suspicion – some of it rooted in genuine fear given the speedy development and rollout of the vaccines – about the shots has not faded.

Of the nearly one million people who died of COVID-19 in the U.S., “a huge share of them didn’t have to,” NPR reported, referring to data from the Brown University School of Public Health’s Vaccine Preventable Deaths Dashboard.

The dashboard shows preventable deaths in each state had the people opted to take the available vaccines. In Wisconsin, of the 9,154 people who died due to Covid, deaths of 5,445 people were preventable.

The disinformation and misinformation about the vaccines is so rampant that it risks the prevention of other diseases, like polio.

“What I worry about is are we going to see the reemergence of diseases we haven’t seen in a long time?” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown School of Public Health and former White House Covid-19 response coordinator under the Biden administration told Politico. “I look at this and I think, ‘I can’t believe we’re talking about polio in 2023.?

This NPR story lists the “disinformation dozen,” people who have been known to push vaccine-related hoaxes. They are anti-vaccine activists, alternative health entrepreneurs and physicians. Some of them often promote “natural health” and their own supplements and books. The article is based on a report from the Center for Countering Digital Hate.

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