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Medical College Of Wisconsin President Offers Three Criteria For Opening Up The Economy

Wisconsin Center COVID Parking
Chuck Quirmbach
For anyone who gets a COVID-19 vaccination shot at the Wisconsin Center, there's free parking at the surface lot just north of the building.

A prominent Milwaukee-area doctor has given a business and civic group his estimate on when the local economy can fully reopen after suffering through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The answer is — it'll be a while.

Dr. John Raymond is president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin. During remarks Monday to the Greater Milwaukee Committee, he offered what he called "Raymond's Three Criteria."

Raymond said the first is achieving herd immunity, also known as population immunity. The World Health Organization defines the term as the protection from an infectious disease that happens when a population is immune either through vaccination or immunity developed through previous infection.

He said for COVID-19 somewhere between 70-80% of adults and children need to reach that immunity. He said it'll be tough, to achieve — given that some kids won't be eligible for a shot for some time, while other people have vaccine hesitancy. "Especially, Black and brown populations, and young male Republicans. We've got some work to do, if we want to get jabs in arms," said Raymond.

Dr. John Raymond presents his "Three Criteria" during an online meeting of the Greater Milwaukee Committee.
Chuck Quirmbach
Dr. John Raymond presents his three criteria during an online meeting of the Greater Milwaukee Committee.

Raymond said number two, the burden of disease has to be considered low.

That burden is estimated by adding the number of years a person looses as a consequence of dying early, and the number of years a person lives with disability caused by the disease. Raymond said right now, the disease burden is too high.

"As of last Wednesday, no counties in Wisconsin had low activity levels. We have 10 counties with medium activity, 61 with high levels and one that had very high levels. I think this is the first time in the last five weeks that any of our counties have high levels of activity," he said.

That one county is St. Croix in the western part of the state.

Raymond's third criterion is better knowledge of how effective the COVID-19 vaccines are for the new strains of the virus and how well previous infections prevent reinfection.

Raymond emphasized that a lot of the battle against COVID-19 is going well. Wisconsin is now up to 37% of people who have had at least one dose of the vaccine, about 25% have completed their vaccinations.

But reopen the state? The doctor says sorry, not yet.

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