Milton High School senior Jakob Snow asked Congressman Bryan Steil, a Republican representing Wisconsin’s 1st District, about the economic side of the coronavirus pandemic. AP Gov students had the opportunity to ask questions of Steil on Monday during a video conference.

Snow asked: As southern states begin to reopen and lift social distancing measures, how should federal and state governments move forward in doing so?

Steil described an approach that is localized and empowers individuals.

What works in New York City or Milwaukee may not work in Milton, he said.

“It behooves us to make sure we have a localized approach that’s data-driven,” he said. “That’s the broad view of this. I think it’s important to have the governors making these decisions. Then I’d like to see the governors localize that down to specific regions or locations in any given state to maximize what we can safely reopen.”

With improved and increased testing, data will be available, he said, “then you can begin to have a localized approach as to how we reopen.”

Steil said it’s also important to empower individuals to find creative ways to safely reopen.

“We’re a capitalist system, meaning workers and small business owners can make decisions as to how to serve their customers in a normal environment,” he said. “Now in a pandemic, coronavirus environment that we’re in, we still want those individuals to be able leverage creativity as to how they operate.”

He gave two examples: Mac’s Pizza Shack offers curbside pickup. Culver’s has a phone app.

“That kind of creative, thoughtful approach that we see here in Wisconsin with businesses locally, we need to see more of that,” he said. “And the less command and control and the more bottom up, the better off we’re going to be in coming up with creative ways to safely get businesses back up and running and get people safely back to work.”

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