Local Covid-19

iStock/Wisconsin News Connection

Wisconsin is expanding its COVID-19 vaccine rollout to include more people. Older adults will soon be eligible, but officials urge patience as shipments still are hard to come by.

Ascension Wisconsin

Nearly a third of the of the Northwoods population falls into the 65 and older category that will soon be eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Ascension Wisconsin, Aspirus, and Marshfield Clinic will all be helping vaccinate this group.

Ascension will be contacting current patients that qualify to set up appointments. It’s asking people not to call hospitals and clinics at this time.

Both Marshfield Clinic and Aspirus have phone lines and an online system to set up appointments.

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Wisconsinites will still be required to wear masks in most public settings.

On Tuesday, Gov. Tony Evers issued a new Public Health Emergency as the old one was set to expired. The order extends the mask wearing requirement in an effort to stem the spread of COVID-19.

It comes on the same day Wisconsin DHS announced COVID-19 vaccine eligibility will open to those 65 and older starting January 25.

Wisconsinites age 65 and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine beginning January 25. Wisconsin Department of Health Services made the announced Tuesday. 

Currently, frontline health care workers, residents in long-term care facilities (nursing homes and assisted living facilities), and police and fire personnel are eligible.

There are approximately 700,000 Wisconsinites who are 65 and older and Wisconsin currently receives around 70,000 first-dose vaccines per week from the federal government. It will take time to vaccinate this population in Wisconsin.

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Wisconsin’s plan for the next phase of coronavirus vaccinations covers essential workers, including teachers, child care providers, law enforcement officers and hospital staff who aren’t on the front lines.

In Wisconsin, it doesn’t include grocery store employees, as recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the states’ second phase of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Grocery store owners, who thought their employees would be included in the next phase, are upset.

Iron Mountain VA Medical Center

Monday, Wisconsin opened vaccine enrollment to police and fire first responders. They’re the first part of Phase 1B.

Aspirus is working to help vaccinate this group.

First responders can get vaccinated at Aspirus Wausau Family Medicine or Aspirus Stevens Point Clinic.

Vaccinations are by appointment only. Fire and police first responders can call 715-847-2812 to schedule an appointment.

Aspirus said its working to expand vaccine access in additional communities for those who qualify within Phase 1B.

Wisconsin National Guard

Local and tribal health departments are getting more funding from the state to help with COVID-19 vaccinations.

Governors Evers and the Department of Health Services announced the funding last week.

The $86 million is being divided among Wisconsin’s local and tribal health departments.

DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said the funds are meant to help with cost of coordinating and administering COVID-19 vaccines as well as keep up with COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

Wisconsin National Guard

Wisconsin is launching a mobile vaccination teams to help vaccinated more people, more efficiently.

The teams are a collaboration between the Department of Health Service, Wisconsin National Guard, and local health departments.

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A variant strain of COVID-19 has been found in Wisconsin. This is the variant that was first discovered in England in November. 

Wisconsin Department of Health Services said the strain was found in lab tests on Tuesday.

Based on epidemiologic and modeling studies, researchers believe that this new strain spreads more rapidly and easily than the original strain of COVID-19. However, there is no evidence that the new strain causes more severe illness or increased risk of death. 

The Wisconsin Senate has overwhelmingly passed a pared-down COVID-19 relief package. And Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has promised to sign it if it clears the Assembly. 

Evers and Republican legislative leaders have been trying to hammer out a compromise package for weeks.

Assembly Republicans passed a bill last week, but Evers opposes it. Senate Republicans scaled the measure back.

They removed provisions that would prohibit local health officials from ordering businesses closed for more than two weeks at a time and block mandatory vaccinations.

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Looking at the money generated through the room tax, it would appear Minocqua, Arbor Vitae, and Woodruff had a banner year for visitors in 2020.

When the pandemic hit and the stay home order went into place, the part of the Northwoods that depends on tourism wasn’t sure what to expect.

“In 2020, we really did not push tourism simply because of COVID-19,” said Let’s Minocqua Visitor’s Bureau and Chamber of Commerce Director Krystal Westfahl.

Michigan.gov

State health officials say police and firefighters in Wisconsin will be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine starting Jan. 18.

Gov. Tony Evers estimates in a letter made public on Monday that members of the general public won’t be vaccinated until June. Evers renewed his call for faster distribution of the vaccine from the federal government while state Republicans introduced a new response bill.

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Wisconsin Senate Republicans have unveiled their own scaled-back COVID-19 response plan.

The measure released Monday goes father than Gov. Tony Evers wanted in many areas but that takes out several provisions he opposed that included in a bill passed by the Assembly last week.

The same bill must pass both the Senate and Assembly and be signed by Evers before becoming law. Evers has voiced opposition to the Assembly bill and he had no immediate reaction to the Senate version.

A Senate committee planned to hold a hearing and vote on their plan on Monday.

Wisconsin National Guard

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is encouraging everyone who needs to get tested for COVID-19 to do so. The Wisconsin National Guard is continuing its testing throughout the state.

These are the local sites with dates and times. Preregistration is recommended, https://register.covidconnect.wi.gov/en-US/.

Iron County: Hurley hosts a community-based testing site on Jan. 12, Feb. 9 and Mar. 9. Held at the Hurley Fire Hall, 405 5th Ave. N., 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Iron Mountain VA Medical Center

Michigan is now in Phase 1B for COVID-19 vaccinations.

This means people 65 and older and essential frontline workers are eligible to get the vaccine.

For now, those in the latter group are being asked to go through their county Health Department.

Aspirus is helping vaccinate those in the 65 and older group.

Jessica Bessner is the Aspirus Regional Director of Pharmacy for the Upper Peninsula.

She says for right now the waitlist is open for people in live in Upper Peninsula Counties where an Aspirus Hospital or clinic is located.

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