Vernon Koch

Vernon Koch

We sat down with Sheboygan County Board Supervisor Vernon Koch to discuss Health Ordinance No. 3, and why he thinks it didn't pass.

What is Health Ordinance No. 3?

It goes back to when we were worried we were going to have a problem with (overloading the hospitals). We wanted to be prepared for the worst case scenario. When we first came together and started talking about it, there were maybe two people in the hospital. We were all hoping and praying that the numbers would stay that way, realizing that it probably wouldn’t.

When was the ordinance conceived?

The concept was there for a while, but we realized we had to do some due diligence to create a document and by mid-August was when we got it together. We were probably talking about it starting in July though — how it would look, who would be involved and what would trigger having to do something. It kept coming back to the fact that the real problem would occur if the hospitals started struggling. We decided we needed some additional input and had to take time to think about it.

What were the major misunderstandings of the ordinance?

There was a local media station that put out a report that was inaccurate. That was the spark that hit social media, and then once it got on social media we began hearing a lot. I responded to quite a few calls and emails, and when I explained the intent of where it came from and why, quite a few people understood. There are just some that, I guess, believe there is something nefarious behind it. I’m sorry, but there just isn’t. The intent on this is that if we don’t protect the hospitals, we aren’t protecting the people.

People were huge on the fact that the health department would be doing some investigations, but they already do those for restaurants and, quite frankly, with other problems in the community — not that there are a lot — but the police and sheriff’s department have plenty on their plate so we didn’t want to stick them with something additional.

What are the next steps?

We filed it, so the order will not be going forward, and there’s nowhere to go from here. What this really would have done was make it so there was an elected body that would oversee any decision made by the public health officer. For example, if the officer decided masks were required in the community, that decision would have to go before a county board to be enacted. Right now, they can make that order without it going before a government oversight. There’s where I don’t understand why people didn’t want to grasp onto it.

There’s no plan to come up with another ordinance. We’ve been waiting for somebody to come up with a practical solution if the hospitals come to us and say we have to do something, but so far nobody has really done that. This was our effort to do so.

What else should we know?

We’ve seen that masks are shown to be effective, social distancing helps as does good hygiene. With those three things, we can keep this at bay. If we don’t do those three things, that’s when there’s going to be problems. This is not overplayed, this is a serious problem. There have been 200,000 that have perished due in large part to this, and we need to be cognizant of that.

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