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We were all so happy to turn the page on the calendar and say “goodbye” to 2020. The new year has to be better, right?
Not so far. Within the first two weeks of the year there was an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and the president of the United States was impeached. Again. So much for the American tradition of peaceful transfer of power. It isn’t happening.
Meanwhile, the COVID-19 pandemic rages on. In Wisconsin the spread of the virus has slowed from its peak in November, but it remains a menace here. More than 41,000 people in Wisconsin were confirmed to have COVID-19 from Jan. 1 to 18, bringing the state’s total number of positive cases to 522,877, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. More than 5,470 in Wisconsin have died from COVID-19, including 611 from Jan. 1-18.
The pandemic has wreaked havoc on the lives of so many, and efforts to slow its spread have harmed the economy. We desperately need the pandemic to end, and vaccines are the key.
Since the first American received a COVID-19 vaccine on Dec. 14, distribution of the vaccines has been disappointingly slow, particularly in Wisconsin.
Wisconsin has been one of the slowest states in the Midwest to distribute COVID-19 vaccines. As of Jan. 18, the state had the lowest per capita distribution in the region, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Gov. Tony Evers recently said that the general public in Wisconsin probably will not get the COVID-19 vaccine until June. June?! That’s not acceptable.
Evers blamed the federal government and joined a group of governors criticizing the Trump administration’s distribution of the vaccines to the states.
Yes, Wisconsin needs more doses of the vaccine to satisfy the demand here, but it has been slow to distribute the doses that it has received, especially on the weekends, according to DHS data. As of Jan. 13, the state had administered 176,165 doses of the vaccine, but had been allocated 607,650 and 373,100 had been shipped to the state.
The state allocated 57,000 doses for skilled nursing facilities and 140,000 for assisted living facilities under a pharmacy partnership program.
It certainly makes sense to prioritize vaccine distribution to frontline workers and those who are most vulnerable. But it is also important to distribute the vaccine as fast as possible. The more people that get it, the less the virus will be able to spread. The sooner the vaccine is distributed, the sooner the pandemic will end.
As of Jan. 18, about 4% of the Wisconsin population has received a dose. That needs to get to at least 70% to achieve herd immunity. We have a long way to go.
Enough with the excuses and the finger-pointing. The state needs to get its act together on vaccine distribution, and the federal government needs to do everything it can to get us the supply we need.