Transcript: Wonderful day!
Today’s update provides a lot of positive news on the progress in our shared efforts to vaccinate, protect, and stop the spread of COVID-19.
I will reinforce though, there is still a strong need to use all precautions until we can vaccinate a large portion of our communities prior to easing some of these measures that are designed to protect each other. This target is at least 70% vaccination within our communities.
So let’s discuss the progress. We are now at over 1.3 million, or 22% of Wisconsinites, have now received at least the first vaccine dose. This includes vaccinating nearly 70% of those who are 65 years old and older. Sauk County is ahead of the state and nation with over 25% of our residents receiving at least the first dose, and includes 77% of those 65 years old and older.
The area school districts have also successfully vaccinated a large portion of the educators. This is exciting as it’s a key milestone to allow our schools to begin to resume in-person classes over the coming weeks.
The State has now determined that we have reached a strong level in vaccinating residents who are currently eligible. This means Wisconsin will open eligibility to a new group starting on Monday, March 22. The State will continue to vaccinate all eligible groups but will now include individuals 16 years old and older who have certain medical conditions which can put them at higher risk if they contract COVID-19.
Please visit our website often for the full listing of eligible groups and the defined medical conditions as this information changes frequently.
Admittedly, Wisconsin was a little slow in the initial rollout of the vaccine but has since become a national leader in our vaccination initiative. Wisconsin has done extremely well in our efforts to minimize vaccine waste and has recently been recognized as number one in the nation for administering the highest percentage of vaccine it received.
I want to applaud all of our community health partners as our progress has been achieved through incredible partnerships and collaboration across our communities, state, and the nation. Our ability to defeat COVID-19 is truly being bolstered through the large-scale vaccination program as supply of safe and effective vaccine this will increase each coming week.
There is also positive news on efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. We have seen decreased COVID-19 positive rates, hospitalizations, and deaths in our region and this has occurred throughout the state and nation. Wisconsin has recently experienced a 90% decline in hospitalizations when compared to the peak we experienced in mid-November.
But we must remain vigilant and continue to use all of the protective measures available until we can vaccinate our family, our friends, our neighbors, and our communities. Reaching herd immunity through immunization is still months away, but the goal is now very much within our reach.
I ask for your partnership in continuing to protect each other — and our goal is the ultimate goal to move Wisconsin forward. I acknowledge, the restrictions required by the pandemic have been extremely difficult and our shared journey long, but this effort will only be successful through a common goal and a shared WE not ME mindset. We will win. But true success will only be realized when we continue to work together.