'Here & Now' Highlights: Laura Scudiere, McCoshen and Ross

Here's what guests on the Dec. 17, 2021 episode had to say about COVID-19 in north-central Wisconsin and what the 2022 elections could bring even as attention continues to be given to the vote in 2020.

By Frederica Freyberg | Here & Now

December 20, 2021

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From left to right, a split screen with Frederica Freyberg and Laura Scudiere seated in different locations

Frederica Freyberg and Laura Scudiere (Credit: PBS Wisconsin)

COVID-19 continues to grip Wisconsin with “critically high” case counts across wide swaths of the state. The health officer for Marathon County described the situation in north-central Wisconsin. Here & Now political panelists offer 2022 election predictions, even as the 2020 vote remains under a Republican microscope.


Laura Scudiere
Health Officer, Marathon County

  • Marathon County has one of the highest rates of COVID-19 disease, hospitalization and death in the state. Case numbers are climbing and hospitals are at or near capacity, experiencing staffing shortages.
  • Scudiere: “I’m concerned about further spread, particularly with family gatherings between unvaccinated individuals and individuals that are taking no precautionary measures whatsoever. I think that there is a feeling within our county that people just want to be done. They just want to be done with the pandemic. I wish I could say that we are done. We are not done with it. We need people to consider vaccination, seek out vaccination sites, and all the same precautionary measures we were taking this time last year should still apply.”
  • As of mid-December, Marathon County’s fully vaccinated rate was 53.5% – below the state percentage of 57.7% for those who have completed the two-dose vaccine series.
  • Scudiere: “I would really love it to be higher. We’ve been working really hard for it to be higher. I’ve done a great deal of research on what would help people understand more about vaccination and encourage them to take that option. What I found is that generally at this point, people have been saturated with messages on vaccination. I think the better measure that we’re taking is to work individuals through it ⁠— listening, empathy, talking with people, and actually sharing information rather than just forcing information about vaccines down people’s throats.”


Bill McCoshen and Scot Ross
Republican and Democratic political analysts

  • If history is a guide, the party of a first-term president loses seats in most midterm elections. But what about at the state level?
  • Ross: “I think in the case of the Democrats, they have a great record to run on, both nationally and in Wisconsin. I mean, we’ve got Governor Evers leading us. This is a guy who cut middle class taxes by 15%. He restored two-thirds funding for public schools, something that hasn’t happened in 20 years. He’s increasing access to affordable health care. And in the midst of covid — the anti-vax, pro-covid Republican Party — he’s relied on the science to try to keep us safe and secure, something the Republicans seem to think is anathema to moving forward. They want to win elections by trying to hurt as many Wisconsinites and keep covid going for as long as possible. That is a recipe for disaster for the Republicans come election time next year.”
  • McCoshen: “There’s a disaster coming for Democrats in November, 2022. And sady for Scot, Tony Evers isn’t going to be at the top of the ticket. It’ll be Joe Biden. The White House always loses seats, with a couple of exceptions over the last 100 years during a midterm election of the first-term president. I expect the same thing to happen in a very big way. Governor Evers is running for reelection. He’s going to have to swim against the current because Joe Biden is pulling down Democrats nationally. His poll numbers range from 38% on the low end to 42% for job approval here in Wisconsin. Joe Biden is going to be a significant drag on Democrats in 2022.”


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