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Health Care Workers Are Getting Vaccinated, But State Leaders Are Still Pushing COVID Precautions

UW Health
UW Health pharmacy technicians deliver some of the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine Wisconsin has recieved.

This week, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine made its way to Wisconsin. The nearly 50,000 vaccines are being delivered to eight hubs across the state. Department of Health Service’s Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm said Thursday that the logistics, distribution and transportation have been smooth. And that health care workers are already being vaccinated.

She said there are stories of health care providers who’ve been overcome with emotion as they’ve received the vaccine. Palm said she didn’t think about how much relief “we’d all feel” as a vaccine began rolling out.

“But of course, we would. And of course, our health care workers would. They’ve seen so much suffering on the frontline of this pandemic,” she said.

Palm said the Moderna vaccine, pending its Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, should be available for staff and residents of long-term care facilities starting closer to the end of this month. She added that while it is good news that a vaccine is here, it will be a while before it’s widely available.

For example, she said the number of frontline health care workers in the state is more than 400,000. With about 50,000 available vaccines, it will be months to get through all of the health care workers.

So, Palm encouraged people to continue wearing masks, physically distancing and staying home. Wisconsin reported more than ,3600 new coronavirus cases Thursday and 59 new deaths. The death total in the state is 4,255. Officials once again urged the public to get tested.

Palm said while it may look like trends in cases, deaths, and hospitalizations are going down, there’s still much to keep in mind — epecially with end of the year holidays approaching.

“Our daily numbers are still too high. We still have staffing shortages at hospitals. We still have hospitals that are strained and so while we are going in the right direction, there is a lot of work left to do and we need to continue to remain vigilant and do this work together," she said.

It could soon become easier for people to learn whether they’ve been exposed to the coronavirus.

Next week, Wisconsinites will get notifications on their cell phones. They’ll ask if people want to opt into an app that will let them know if they’ve been exposed.

The service is free and anonymous.

“Next Wednesday, folks will receive a push notification on their phone that will ask them if they are interested in opting into the app and will remind them that now is the time to download it and opt into the program. And we encourage folks to do that," she said.

Palm continued, "And then as the program progresses — if you opt in and you later test positive for COVID-19 —you will be, as usual, notified of your positive results and you'll be asked do you want to notify people who you are in close proximity to for 15 minutes that you have tested positive so that they know that they they've been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19.”

Palm said the program works off of Bluetooth not GPS, so it’s not collecting any tracking information.

Teran Powell joined WUWM in the fall of 2017 as the station’s very first Eric Von Broadcast Fellow. She became WUWM's race and ethnicity reporter in 2018.
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