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Wisconsin Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Notification Change, Second Virus Variant Case

Chuck Quirmbach
The entrance to the city of Milwaukee COVID-19 vaccination site at the Wisconsin Center.

State of Wisconsin health officials say local vaccination outlets will soon get more advance word on how much COVID-19 vaccine they can expect. Officials also say they are concerned about a second case of a variant of the coronavirus being found in Wisconsin.

On the vaccine supply issue, the state surveys local agencies for how much vaccine they need. Word from the state has been coming on Fridays, just for what the locals will get for the following week. But Wisconsin Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said thanks to more vaccine coming from the federal government, things are changing to a two week advance word on local supply. 

"That will begin to extend at least two weeks at a time that people can plan, and we're hopeful, as we get longer and longer planning trajectories from the federal government to extend that same extended trajectory to our local partners,” she said.

The change comes as some suburban Milwaukee leaders are complaining about a lack of transparency from the state over how the vaccine is being distributed. In addition, some smaller pharmacies in the Madison area now say their vaccine supply has been cut, Willems Van Dijk said that's because of a previous change to not to supply locations that want less than 50 doses per week.

"I'd love to have vaccine in every single pharmacy, every local health department, every clinic. But given the amount of vaccine, we just can't get it everywhere,” she said.

But Willems Van Dijk said a federal program will bring about 100 doses of the vaccine to about 175 Walgreens pharmacies across Wisconsin next week. 

Credit Screenshot
Wisconsin Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk speaks to the news media Tuesday.

Amid the latest news about the vaccine, the state also announced Tuesday that a second case of a variant of the coronavirus has been found in Wisconsin — in Waukesha County. The state's Chief Medical Officer for Communicable Diseases, Dr. Ryan Westergaard, said there are indications from other states that the so-called English strain can spread more rapidly.

"The lesson for all of us who are living in Wisconsin is that we need to do all the things we know how to do to, to prevent the spread of all COVID-19. And that's the only way to minimize the community spread of novel variants,” he explained.

Westergaard said those “things” are to limit gatherings, wear a mask and, when possible, get the vaccine. 

Credit Screenshot
Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer, DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases, speaks to the news media.

Another cautionary note comes from Willems Van Dijk about statistics showing that the number of new confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin have declined to a seven day average of 970.

"It's the first time since September, I think, that we've been under 1,000 cases per day and so, that's really good news. On the other hand, when we were on the upslope of this curve, and we were hitting 970 cases a day, we thought we were in dire straits. So, it is all relative and as we've said, this is still far too high a rate,” she said.

Plus, she said, 39 more deaths from COVID-19 were reported Tuesday, pushing the state's total to 6,094

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