The Badger Herald will update this article regularly as more COVID-19 information comes out. Last update: April 6 at 4:57 p.m.
Tuesday, April 6
In a press release, Gov. Tony Evers announced the Alliant Energy Center in Madison — which has been acting as a mass vaccination site — will receive federal funding Wednesday, April 7. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 5 will provide federal staff and support services for administering COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the press release, the vaccination site will have a capacity of vaccinating up to 1,400 people per day.
“This is one of the largest vaccination efforts our state has undertaken and it takes teamwork at every level to ensure we are getting the vaccine to everyone as quickly, fairly and safely as possible,” Evers said in the press release. “I am grateful for FEMA’s support to our state and coordinating with our local partners to help our most vulnerable populations get the protection they need so we can all move forward from this pandemic.”
Currently, in Dane County, COVID-19 cases are increasing, with a 19.7% increase in cases over the past two weeks. Hospitalizations, however, are stable.
Monday, April 5
Starting today, all people aged 16 and above are eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in Wisconsin. As of April 4, Wisconsin has administered over 3 million doses of the vaccine, and the number of doses administered each day is steadily increasing.
Despite Wisconsin’s efforts to address inequity in the vaccine rollout, disparities still persist. About 31.3% of white people in Wisconsin have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine while the numbers are far lower for other races — 13.2% for Black, 15.8% for Hispanic, 20.6% for Native American and 21.6% for Asian people.
“These social factors, among others, vary by race and ethnicity because they have been and continue to be shaped by racism and discrimination, which create unfair vulnerabilities and barriers for these populations,” the Wisconsin Department of Health Services said. “Despite these barriers, many tribes and communities of color have limited the devastating impacts of COVID-19 in their communities by working together as a community and taking public health precautions seriously, such as limiting their activity out in their communities, wearing face coverings and physical distancing.”
Sunday, April 4
Starting tomorrow, all people in Wisconsin aged 16 years and older will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. According to Public Health Madison & Dane County, 80% of the eligible Dane County population will likely have received at least one dose of the vaccine by May 5.
In a data snapshot for the week of April 1, PHMDC said Wisconsin’s neighboring states, Michigan and Minnesota, have some of the “highest” cases of the B.1.1.7 variant in the U.S. and are seeing “large” increases in hospitalization rates for younger people. Dane County is not observing similar trends, though, and PHMDC is monitoring this trend closely. Hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases in Dane County are, however, on the rise the past two weeks, and the percent positivity has increased to 0.8 from 0.7 in the past week.
Friday, April 2
In a press conference this afternoon, Public Health Madison and Dane County announced Public Health Order #15, which keeps the indoor mask requirement but removes outdoor face-covering requirements. The order will go into effect April 7 and will last until May 5, 2021. The order also increases outdoor gathering limits.
Almost 40% of people living in Dane County have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and about 89% of those aged 65 and above have been partially or fully vaccinated.
“Get vaccinated as soon as you are able,” Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said during the press conference.
Tuesday, March 9
As of March 5, Wisconsin Department of Health Services has identified 26 cases of the B.1.1.7 strain of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, which was first found in the United Kingdom. Further, Wisconsin DHS will likely expand vaccine eligibility to people with pre-existing health conditions later this week, according to the Associated Press.
Public Health Madison & Dane County’s emergency order #14 which significantly increases indoor and outdoor gathering capacity — including restaurants and taverns — will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on March 10.
Monday, March 8
Effective today, University of Wisconsin campus events can be held for up to 50 people indoors and 150 people outdoors. Physical distancing and wearing a mask during gatherings are still required, and events will not include food or drinks. Only students and employees with the Safer Badgers App can attend the events.
According to new guidelines released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention today, fully vaccinated individuals can gather with others who have also completed their doses of the COVID-19 vaccine — including indoors without adhering to physical distancing and face-covering guidelines. Fully vaccinated individuals also do not have to follow physical distancing and other public health guidelines when meeting with unvaccinated individuals as long as the latter or their close circle of people is not at risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19.
When it comes to outdoors, however, all individuals must wear a mask, follow physical distancing guidelines, and avoid crowded and poorly ventilated areas, regardless of their immunization status.
Sunday, March 7
COVID-19 cases at University of Wisconsin continue to decline with a positivity rate of 0.4%. University Health Services is vaccinating individuals based on guidelines and eligibility criteria released by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.
Saturday, March 6
University of Wisconsin has vaccinated 5,094 students an employees, including both on- and off-campus. The data, however, does not include information on how many of those are students and employees and how many work from home. The seven-day average for COVID-19 cases is at 20.3, which is significantly lower, and cases at UW are going down. As of March 4, over 6,400 UW students have tested positive for COVID-19.
Friday, March 5
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services identified a new COVID-19 variant circulating in Wisconsin, B.1.351, which was first discovered in South Africa in samples dating October 2020. Similar to B.1.1.7., this strain spreads more easily and rapidly than the original SARS-CoV-2 strain.
Thursday, March 4
Due to limited vaccine supply, Public Health Madison & Dane County was unable to vaccinate educators on their intended timeline beginning March 1. In a recent press release, PHMDC announced it will start vaccinating teachers, school staff and childcare providers from March 9 at the Alliant Energy Center.
Though PHMDC has not determined the vaccine allocation for the week of March 15, they currently plan on vaccinating all school staff, teachers and childcare providers by March 21.
PHMDC also stated 68% of those who are 65 years old or older have been vaccinated in the last two months in Dane County.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced Wisconsin residents can call a toll free number (844) 684-1064 for COVID-19 vaccine-related assistance such as registering for appointments, answering medical questions about the vaccine and finding locations.
Wednesday, March 3
About 16.3% of Wisconsin residents have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. In Dane County, 18.5% of residents have received at least one dose of the vaccine, and the number of people receiving vaccines in Dane County currently “far outpaces” the number of people testing positive for COVID-19, according to a statement by Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway.
Tuesday, March 2
Under the new PHMDC Order #14, outdoor gatherings are limited to 500 people while indoor gatherings are 150 for establishments that offer food and drink and 350 for establishments that don’t. The order will come into effect March 10 at 12:01 p.m.
Under the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program, several select Kroger stores, including Metro Markets and Pick-n-Saves across Wisconsin, will begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine. Kroger currently has a total of 67 stores in Wisconsin and will receive 1,552 doses of the vaccine from the state government this week, in addition to 2,340 Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine doses from the federal government. Anyone currently eligible for the vaccine in Wisconsin can check Kroger’s website or call (866) 211-5320 to schedule an appointment as they are available.
Monday, March 1
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced today it will receive 47,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine next week from the federal government. COVID-19 cases continue to decline in Dane County.
Saturday, Feb. 27
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued emergency authorization for the of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Friday, Feb. 26
Wisconsin Department of Health Services launched a COVID-19 vaccine provider map for eligibility and vaccine provider contact information based on location. The Wisconsin DHS updates the maps once every two weeks.
Tuesday, Feb. 23
Gov. Tony Evers announced the launch of four new community-based vaccination clinics, in addition to the Rock County clinic that started last week.
Friday, Feb. 19
PHMDC announced a partnership with several public and private organizations, including University Health Services, UW and UW Health, for vaccinating Dane County school staff at the Alliant Energy Center starting March.
PHMDC said they requested 7,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine each for the first two weeks of March for K-12 staff, and added the drive will take six to eight weeks.
According to the Wisconsin DHS, school staff are eligible from March 1, but if vaccines will actually be provided to them depends on vaccine supply, PHMDC said. Though additional groups are eligible from March, school staff will be prioritized.
While cases are decreasing in Dane County, the University of Wisconsin reported a high number of positive tests this week. The seven-day positivity rate for UW students jumped up to 1%, and 62 cases were reported Feb. 18.
Thursday, Feb. 18
Public Health Madison and Dane County confirmed the COVID-19 variant strain B.1.1.7. — first seen in England in December 2020 — was found in Dane County. The strain, according to the PHMDC press release, spreads “more easily” and “more rapidly” than the original COVID-19 strain.
PHMDC Director Janel Heinrich said in the statement PHMDC expected to find the strain in Dane County as it has appeared in other regions in Wisconsin.
“While this is the first time sequencing has confirmed the strain here, we’ve been operating under the assumption that the variant is present, and that is why we continue to stress that people not let their guard down,” Heinrich said.
In an email to The Badger Herald, PHMDC Health Education Coordinator Christy Vogt said PHDMC does not know the specific region in Dane County where the strain was detected.
In a recent press release, Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said this news is a “stark reminder” that though Dane County is making progress, there are several risks that remain with COVID-19.
UW reported 99 cases among students on Feb. 17, a sharp rise from the previous weeks.
Wednesday, Feb. 17
According to PHMDC, 14.2% of Dane County’s white population has received the COVID-19 vaccine, whereas only 7.4% of the Black population, 7.2% of the Asian population and 5.4% of the Hispanic population have received the vaccine, showing that Dane County’s white population is being vaccinated at twice the rate of the Black and Asian populations and three times the rate of the Hispanic population.
Over a hundred cases among students were reported at UW yesterday, which is the highest number of cases the university has seen in 2021.
Tuesday, Feb. 16
COVID-19 cases declined at the University of Wisconsin while testing increased, with the seven-day average for new cases at 35.8 and for tests at 5,609.1. According to Public Health Madison and Dane County, the number of people receiving the vaccine “far outpaces” the number of people testing positive for COVID-19. In a press release Monday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced it will invest $6.1 million in community-based organizations which raise awareness and increase access to the COVID-19 vaccine in communities facing both “historical and current barriers” to health care services.
Thursday, Feb. 11
Wisconsin DHS released a new data dashboard for the COVID-19 vaccine. In a media briefing this afternoon, Wisconsin DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said the dashboard will be updated every day. The dashboard includes vaccine data by age, ethnicity and race. DHS does not have a database of all healthcare workers and police officers, so occupational groups are hard to track, Willems Van Dijk said.
The CDC launched a Federal Retail Pharmacy Program that will allow pharmacies, particularly Walgreens in select locations, to provide vaccines. Each Walgreens store, in select locations, will receive about 100 doses of vaccine, Willems Van Dijk said.
“The allocation of the vaccine is in the hands of the federal government,” Willems Van Dijk said.
Wednesday, Feb. 10
UW imposed restrictions to building access today, which means a student must have a green badge on the Safer Badgers app to enter any university building. Public Health Madison & Dane County’s Emergency Order #13 came into effect today. Jeré Fabick, a prominent Republican donor, asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to strike down Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate.
Tuesday, Feb. 9
In a press release Tuesday morning, Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced they identified a second case of variant strain B.1.1.7 of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 and was first discovered to be circulating widely in England — in Wisconsin. According to Wisconsin DHS, the new strain can result in increased death risk and spreads more rapidly and easily than the original strain. The seven-day average for COVID-19 cases at UW increased by 58.3% while the number of total tests decreased by 5%.
Monday, Feb. 8
As of Feb. 7, the seven-day average for COVID-19 cases at the University of Wisconsin was 42.1 — a 52.8% increase in the last seven days — and the positivity rate for the student population was 0.9%. Public Health Madison and Dane County issued Emergency Order #13 which increases indoor gathering limits and updates face-covering requirements. The order will go into effect Wednesday, Feb. 10 at 12:01 a.m.