Republicans to block UW virus testing, vaccination rules; Thompson blasts effort

Courtesy: State Senator Steve Nass
Courtesy: State Senator Steve Nass(WEAU)
Published: Jul. 29, 2021 at 10:10 AM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — University of Wisconsin System President Tommy Thompson was heavily critical of Republican-controlled committee’s plan to force the state universities to clear their COVID-19 protocols with the legislature before implementing them.

The one-time Republican governor of Wisconsin went so far as to recount his position within the George W. Bush Administration when making his case, arguing that his former position as Health and Human Services Secretary gives him additional insight to combating the spread of the virus.

“I know the biggest threat to in-person classes this fall would be actions that strip the UW System of the tools it has so successfully used to date to address outbreaks and reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Thompson continued.

His statement came after state Sen. Steve Nass moved to block the UW System from instituting COVID-19 testing, masking, and vaccination protocols on its campuses. The Whitewater Republican said he wants to require the university to get approval from the Legislature before enacting any virus-related regulations.

“Just as we have this past year, the UW System will continue to use its authority to take nimble and reasonable steps that enable us to keep our campuses open for the education students need, parents expect, and Wisconsin deserves,” Thompson added.

Nass co-chairs the Legislature’s GOP-controlled rules committee, which he says will meet next week to take up his proposal.

His statement comes as health officials sound warnings about the rapidly spreading, highly contagious delta variant. On Thursday, a health official from Dane Co., warned the county where UW’s flagship university resides is on the verge of crossing the CDC’s threshold for recommending everyone over two-years-old wear a mask, regardless of their vaccination status.

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