By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Although the Republican-controlled Legislature continued to work with Democratic Gov. Tony Evers on a state coronavirus relief package, a new poll released Wednesday showed broad support for the actions taken already to close schools and businesses and limit gatherings to slow the spread of the disease.
The Marquette University Law School poll showing Evers with 76% support for his handling of the pandemic so far came just after Republican leaders criticized his administration for not presenting more data, including how many people have been hospitalized with COVID-19.
Shortly after their comments, the state Department of Health Services reported for the first time that 25% of confirmed COVID-19 patients had been hospitalized.
Republicans and Evers were working toward an agreement that could be voted on by the Legislature as soon as next week. Republican leaders said they had agreed to temporarily waive a one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits, something Evers had pushed for.
“Our hope is to get a bill that everyone can vote for,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said. “The goal would be to have that as soon as we can.”
Evers floated a roughly $700 million aid package last week that Republicans dismissed. They repeated Wednesday they want to better understand the $2.3 billion aid package coming to the state as part of the federal stimulus before proceeding.
Evers declared a public health emergency on March 12 and since then more than 240,000 unemployment claims have been filed as schools and businesses have closed and people sheltered in place. The Marquette poll showed that 9% of respondents said they had lost their job.
Vos and Fitzgerald said they did not support extending the emergency order indefinitely as Evers has requested.
“Everybody’s looking for certainty and I get that,” Fitzgerald said. “But at this point, I think it’s way too early to make that call.”
By Tuesday, there were more than 1,350 confirmed cases in the state and 26 deaths, based on state and local health departments. Of the confirmed cases, 25%, or 337, had been hospitalized. The data did not indicate how many remained in the hospital, were in intensive care, or had been discharged.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are among those particularly susceptible to more severe illness, including pneumonia.
Fitzgerald said senators had been putting pressure on the Evers administration to release more data and proof that all the decisions being made in reaction to the virus were justified.
Vos said he was frustrated that other states, including neighboring Minnesota, have released much more information daily, including hospitalizations and how many people had recovered. Wisconsin has not reported how many have recovered.
“I know we’re all in a very tense time,” Vos said. “If other governments can step up and do it, I know Wisconsin can too and not just rely on anecdotes and rumors.”
The Marquette poll showed Evers had his highest approval ratings since he took office last year, 65%, up from 51% in February. President Donald Trump’s approval rating was unchanged from February at 48%, but only 51% said they approved of how he was handling the coronavirus outbreak.
The survey shows 86% of respondents support closing schools and businesses and restricting public gatherings as Evers ordered. And 79% said they support the government providing direct payments to people.
The poll of 813 registered voters in Wisconsin was conducted between March 24 and Sunday. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.