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'Headed Into The Worst Of This': Wisconsin Still Needs More Medical Supplies To Fight COVID-19

Al Bello
Getty Images
Nassau County police lead a donation drive to collect medical equipment such as N95 surgical masks, nitrile gloves and Tyvek suits to battle the coronavirus pandemic on March 24 in New York.

State health officials said Monday social distancing is helping to flatten the curve, controlling the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. But they urge Wisconsinites to stay indoors to ensure cases are slowed.

In a news conference with the state Department of Health Services, Gov. Tony Evers urged action to bring medical equipment to the state as cases for COVID-19 are expected to rise in the next few weeks.

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Evers says the state has gained testing supplies through the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the buy-back program enacted last week, which allows people to donate and sell personal protective equipment to the state. But he says more medical supplies are still needed.

“We are headed into the worst of this folks, and the need is only going to get greater. That's why our leadership team at the state operations center has also been preparing to support our hospitals and our local and tribal health partners to assist them in setting up voluntary isolation centers,” says Evers.

"We are headed into the worst of this folks, and the need is only going to get greater." - Gov. Tony Evers

Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm elaborated.

“What we've learned from our colleagues around the world and around the country is that an inability to have safe isolation places for folks reduces your ability to slow the spread and so we are very actively working on a number of locations,” Palm says.

State universities and other sites are being considered as potential voluntary isolation centers.

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Meanwhile, Evers says state lawmakers must approve legislation that allows greater flexibility to meet the needs of Wisconsinites during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last week, more than 115,000 new preliminary unemployment insurance applications were filed with the [Department of Workforce Development] … We need the Legislature to take action to get rid of the one-week waiting period before folks can start receiving benefits,” says Evers.

During the call, it was briefly mentioned that Evers' office is working with local paper companies to produce personal protective equipment supplies like masks that could reduce Wisconsin's need to compete on the global market for medical supplies.

Editor's note: A portion of the audio is from WisconsinEye.

During this pandemic, WUWM's Bubbler Talk is focusing on the coronavirus and its impact on the Milwaukee area. If you have a question, submit it below.


Olivia Richardson
Olivia Richardson became WUWM's Eric Von Fellow in October 2019.
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