At a press conference this afternoon, Governor Tony Evers and Department of Health Services experts gave updates on the rise in coronavirus cases statewide. Governor Evers emphasized the danger posed by the Delta variant, which is now the predominant strain in Wisconsin.
“Folks, this Delta variant is no joke. It’s highly infectious, and it’s spreading more quickly than any other strain of the virus. We are no longer in the fight against COVID-19, this is now the fight against the Delta variant, and all the potential variants that could follow,” says Evers.
Wisconsin is seeing a resurgence of COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant. Health officials report the seven day average of new cases has hit 1,104.
Average daily hospitalizations have hit levels last seen in February 2021, and nearly 90% of ICU beds across the state are in use. Wisconsin Public Radio reports that Wisconsin healthcare systems are reopening COVID-19 units. Here’s DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk:
“We find ourselves in a situation that we hoped was in the past: we risk our hospital systems being overwhelmed again, just as they were last November,” says Van Dijk.
Deaths from COVID-19 are still low with an average of 2 deaths per day. Van Dijk says that’s because the people who are at the most risk of severe cases, such as seniors, have vaccination rates close to 90%.
Overall, 49.8% of Wisconsin residents and 68% of Dane County residents are fully vaccinated.
Governor Tony Evers hinted at the press conference that incentives for getting vaccinated aren’t off the table. Two weeks ago, President Joe Biden recommended offering $100 in exchange for getting vaccinated. Wisconsin is currently offering free cream puffs for getting vaccinated at the state fair. Evers says further incentives are still under consideration.
Governor Evers also said he would have a decision by next week on whether he would require state employees to get vaccinated. Earlier this month, his administration mandated indoor masking for state employees.
Vaccinations are available for anyone age 12 and up, from Public Health Madison & Dane County. Through their website, you can book appointments at the clinics at 2230 South Park Street, and 2705 East Washington Avenue.
There is no statewide mask mandate in Wisconsin, after the state Supreme Court struck down Governor Evers’ mandate in March, but Van Dijk strongly recommends wearing a mask for the time being.
“Masks are like a seatbelt on an airplane. You wear your seatbelt for takeoff, and when you hit your cruising altitude, you can take it off and move around the cabin. And if your plane hits a patch of rough air, the pilot asks you to get back to your seat and to put your seatbelt back on,” says Van Dijk.
Van Dijk finished the analogy by saying we’ve now hit some turbulence — meaning masks should go back on, for now, until the situation is stabilized.
PHOTO: Steven Cornfield / UNSPLASH