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Wisconsin DHS Updates on Vaccine, Wastewater Surveillance Dashboard

Wisconsin DHS

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported the seven-day average of daily confirmed COVID cases in Wisconsin is lower now than it was a month ago.

But testing numbers have also dropped.

“That is concerning,” said DHS Secretary Designee Andrea Palm. “With our positivity rate as high as it is, we know we are not testing enough people to get an accurate picture of the virus here in Wisconsin.”

Despite a drop in daily confirmed cases, many hospitals are still overwhelmed.

As a result, Governor Evers announced 45 U.S. Army medical personnel will be arriving to support Marshfield Medical Center facilities in Marshfield, Eau Claire, Beaver Dam and Rice Lake.

“The need for more staff to meet patient demand remains a challenge, and this additional support will be crucial in helping meet patient needs,” Gov. Evers said.

The Vaccine

A vaccine is on its way, but so far there is not a set date for when Wisconsinites can begin getting vaccinated. 

A plan for prioritizing who receives vaccinations first is continuing to develop.

Palm said the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee met to discuss which health care providers will be first in line.

“How can entities that are going to provide a vaccination think about which health care workers first? Somebody in an ICU? Somebody who’s working in a Covid unit?” she asked.

During the wait for a vaccine, Palm stressed the importance of continuing to social distance, wear masks and wash hands.

Wastewater Surveillance Dashboard

Palm also introduced a new tool to measure the prevalence of the virus in our communities – a wastewater surveillance dashboard.

Wastewater surveillance can detect increases in virus activity a week before testing.

Traci De Salvo is the acting director at the Bureau of Communicable Diseases.

“We hope that this is a tool both to serve as an early indicator and to help us see maybe something things that we’re not able to see as testing rates aren’t as high as we’d like them to be,” DeSalvo said.

She hopes the tool can help public health workers determine when there might be an increase in COVID-19 in a community early on.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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