Local Covid-19

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Gov. Tony Evers says everyone age 16 and up in Wisconsin will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine on May 1. State health officials said Thursday that everyone in the state would be eligible sometime in May. Hours later, President Joe Biden said he wanted states to make everyone eligible by May 1. Evers said on Friday that the state will meet that deadline. Evers didn't address how long after becoming eligible someone will be able to get vaccinated. Health officials have previously said everyone who wants to be vaccinated will be able to get it by early July.

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More than a quarter of residents in Michigan’s Ontonagon County are vaccinated against COVID-19.

That makes it the county with the highest percentage of vaccinated residents in the state.

Other counties in the U.P. are doing well too.

About 20 percent of people in Iron County have received the vaccine and more than 15 percent of Gogebic County residents have been vaccinated.

Wisconsin DHS

Wisconsin is greatly expanding who is eligible for the coronavirus vaccine starting March 29 to include people with a broad array pre-existing conditions such as obesity, high blood pressure, cancer and asthma.

The state Department of Health Services said Thursday is expects the general public to be eligible for the vaccine in May.

The next eligibility group includes individuals age 16 and over with the following medical conditions:

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Right now, Wisconsin teachers and childcare workers are among those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Many school employees in our area are getting vaccinated, but some sooner than others.

At Northland Pines School District, employees have either already gotten a COVID-19 vaccine or they’ll be able to get one before the weekend.

“We’re hoping to have everyone in our district done this week,” the district administrator, Scott Foster, said. “That’s our goal. Anyone who wanted one should have an opportunity by the end of the day Friday to get them.”

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The coronavirus made 2020 Michigan’s deadliest year, driving a nearly 18% increase in deaths over 2019.

Preliminary state data shows it was the largest annual percentage jump on record, surpassing a 15.6% increase in 1918 when the flu pandemic struck.

More than 115,300 people died in Michigan last year, up from about 97,800 in 2019.

COVID-19 has been linked to nearly 16,700 deaths.

Iron Mountain VA Medical Center

The vaccination effort happening in Wisconsin and across the U.S. is key to ending the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the recent approval of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the U.S. has now approved three vaccines in the fight against the coronavirus.

WXPR’s Katie Thoresen spoke with Dr. William Hartman about the vaccines available, why he calls them medical marvels, and how they can bring an end to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

In March last year, schools and businesses shut down.

Governor Evers ordered us to stay at home.

We put on masks, social distances, and washed our hands more than ever.

It’s been a full year since many of our lives changed dramatically around COVID-19.

WXPR is looking back on that year and looking forward to what lies ahead.

Listen below to the WXPR Special Report: “Here for a Year: The Impact of COVID-19 on Our Lives.”

Wisconsin National Guard

Wisconsin’s year of COVID-19 has featured one milestone after another, many of them disturbing to people in the state and here in the Northwoods.

Here’s a look back at the timeline of how Wisconsin went from COVID-free to a half-million cases, with plenty of tension, confusion, and sickness along the way.

2020

February 5: Wisconsin reports its first case of COVID-19, found in a person who had just returned from Beijing.

March 13: Gov. Tony Evers closes all schools for two and a half weeks.

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Some changes within the Sokaogon Chippewa Community in Mole Lake are more obvious that others.

To get into the recently reopened casino you have to get your temperature taken and answer some screening questions.

A giant marquee in town encourages people to get a COVID-19 test at the SCC health clinic if they need it.

Other changes, like newly installed fiber optic cables for better broadband, can’t be seen on the surface.

But all the changes are a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wisconsin Department of Administration

Heading into 2020, the nation planned to give Wisconsin plenty of political attention.

It promised to be one of the most contested swing states in the presidential race.

But the pandemic put Wisconsin politics on display for an additional reason.

Partisan tensions in Madison grew even deeper as Republican lawmakers fought Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ COVID management plans at seemingly every turn.

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The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented.

In the North Central Region of Wisconsin, unemployment skyrocketed from 3.8% in March to 13.5% in April 2020 right after the Safer at Home order first went into place.

While the unemployment rate in our region has mostly recovered, people are still feeling the impact. Among businesses hardest hit are those in the leisure and hospitality industry.

Pam Murphy owns Tilly’s Coffee Shop in Downtown Rhinelander.  

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The past year struck a devastating blow to industries across Wisconsin.

Many restaurants and hotels saw their revenue reduced by at least 25 percent since pre-COVID days.

Movie theaters crumbled without the regular release of Hollywood hits.

Tribal casinos shut down for months, costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

But in a year with so much loss, at least one area saw significant gains – outdoor recreation.

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Since scientists and health care workers first learned about the novel coronavirus, a lot has changed.

We now know much more about how COVID-19 is spread, and how to treat and prevent the virus.

We spoke with an epidemiologist and an associate professor of population health sciences at University of Wisconsin-Madison about a year of studying COVID-19.

Listen to the full conversation here.

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is asking Michiganders to turn on the lights outside their homes for an hour to remember thousands of people who have died from COVID-19.

The remembrance will occur from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday, one year after Michigan first confirmed coronavirus cases.

Michigan has seen more than 16,000 confirmed or probable deaths tied to the disease and over 650,000 infections — spurred by surges last spring and in the fall and winter.

Department of Workforce Development

The economy in North Central Wisconsin is slowly recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.

After unemployment peaked in April at 13.5 percent it finished the year at about 5.5 percent.

Mitchell Ropp is a regional economist for the Department of Workforce Development.

He says nothing has impacted the economy like the pandemic has.

“The impact was felt very quickly from this, but we also have recovered a good portion of what was hit relatively quickly overall. It’s definitely different in its nature,” said Ropp.

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