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Former La Crosse County board chair Johnson slams GOP on coronavirus response

Brad Williams

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Wisconsin Democrats have brought a former La Crosse County Board chair out of retirement to help blame Republicans for the spread of COVID-19.

In an online message Wednesday, the state Democratic Party featured Tara Johnson criticizing state and federal Republican leaders for downplaying the seriousness of the virus.

Johnson pointed to the large increase in La Crosse County cases during June to argue the safer-at-home orders were lifted prematurely.

“I took an oath to uphold the constitution of the state of Wisconsin, and protect the residents of La Crosse County,” Johnson said. “(President Donald) Trump swore a similar oath to protect all Americans. I don’t believe that he is doing that.”

Johnson retired from the county board in April, choosing not to seek another term after 20 years in office.

She criticized legislators and the state Supreme Court for lifting the safer-at-home order in mid-May, arguing that the order was working in La Crosse County, with fewer than 50 coronavirus cases reported late in May. 

The total is close to 500 cases now, just a month later.

Johnson and state Democratic Party chair Ben Wikler accuse Trump of setting a bad example by having public rallies and failing to wear a face mask. 

The La Crosse County Republican Party has, in turn, accused local leaders of overreacting to the virus, by closing businesses and even beaches, and blaming Democratic control of county government for those actions.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.