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Milwaukee Officials Report COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Plentiful, Case Increase Worrisome

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Chuck Quirmbach
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This sign near the exit doors of the Wisconsin Center thanks people for getting a COVID-19 vaccine shot.

The COVID-19 vaccine supply in Milwaukee has improved to the point where Mayor Tom Barrett is urging eligible people to come and get a shot.

This week, everyone in Wisconsin, 16 and older, became eligible.

Barrett said folks could just walk up and get vaccinated Thursday at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee, and he expects that status to continue there for at least a couple days.

But that's not all, according to the mayor.

"There are walkups available at North Division, at South Division. And so, if we're going to defeat this, or, I should say, when we defeat this COVID-19 pandemic, it will be after we have hundreds of thousands of our residents vaccinated. So, please join the fight," said Barrett.

Barrett said many people will also make appointments to receive the vaccine.

The federal agency FEMA will continue to be a big presence at the Wisconsin Center. City-run vaccinations at North and South Division High Schools will continue through next week, then will switch to the Northwest Health Center and the Southside Health Center.

Many clinics and pharmacies in the Milwaukee area are also offering the vaccine. Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said health workers at the Kosciuszko Park Community Center just administered their 10,000th dose to community members , and more vaccine is available there, too.

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Dr. Ben Weston speaks during a media briefing April 8.

Dr. Ben Weston, of the Medical College of Wisconsin and Milwaukee County Emergency Management, pointed to a recent national poll that showed 60% of people either have received the COVID-19 vaccine, or want to get it as soon as possible.

"And so, considering only a third of our county has received at least one dose, it would suggest there are still many people out there in Milwaukee County who want to be vaccinated," said Weston.

That demand is good, said Weston, because he and other health officials say they continue to worry about a rising number of COVID-19 cases. The State of Wisconsin Thursday reported the highest number in nearly two months, of new confirmed cases in a day — more than 1000. Weston said he's especially concerned about the coronavirus variant known as B.1.1.7, or the U.K. variant, because it's more contagious and severe.

"So to be clear, for those who are not vaccinated, this means you are substantially more likely to become infected with COVID now, through the same level of exposure you would have had in the fall. Also to be clear, if you're infected with COVID now, you're substantially more likely to get severely ill, to get hospitalized, or die," warned Weston.

Weston said the good news is that all the vaccines available in the U.S. still seem to work well against that variant.

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