Posted at noon on March 24, 2021
By Benjamin Yount
Center Square News Service
The list of people who can get the coronavirus vaccine as well as the list of people who can give the vaccine in Wisconsin is expanding.
Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services (DHS) recently announced the latest vaccine eligibility expansion.
“People ages 16 and older with certain medical conditions associated with an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 are eligible for the vaccine. This newly eligible group adds more than 2 million people into the population eligible for the vaccine,” DHS wrote in its announcement.
Those medical conditions include everything from asthma to diabetes to HIV to obesity.
Doctors and nurses in Wisconsin have administered more than 2 million vaccine doses as of Monday. Over 860,000 have been fully vaccinated.
“As people with certain medical conditions begin signing up for vaccination appointments, we ask for everyone’s continued patience. Some places may have waitlists, but eventually everyone will be able to get protected against the virus,” DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake said.
On the same day that the vaccine eligibility list grew, so did the list of people who can give the shots.
Governor Tony Evers signed a new law that allows dentists in Wisconsin to administer the vaccine.
Dentists in Wisconsin will be required to take an eight hour class before they can administer the vaccine. That class focuses on vaccine storage and protocols.
State fair ‘hospital’ closed
Wisconsin’s long-empty coronavirus overflow hospital at the state fairgrounds is closed.
The Evers administration said the Alternate Care Facility at the fairgrounds in West Allis is being “decommissioned.”
“The Alternate Care Facility was constructed as hospitalizations from COVID-19 were increasing across our state to ensure that our health systems and local governments could continue to provide high-quality care to Wisconsinites,” Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan said in a statement. “It not only brought relief to our hospitals but also provided quality and compassionate healthcare to Wisconsinites in their time of need.”
Brennan’s office said just 207 people were treated at the facility.
“A total of 170 individuals received treatment at the facility between October 2020 and January 1, 2021,” DOA stated. “On December 22, 2020, the ACF opened a Bamlanivimab (BAM) Infusion Clinic to meet the needs of local southeastern Wisconsin health systems that did not have the capacity at the time to serve their patients with the new outpatient treatment. A total of 37 individuals were treated at the BAM Infusion Clinic.”
It cost $15 million to build the hospital last summer, and cost millions more to operate.
The Department of Health Services said on its website that Wisconsin’s coronavirus relief money will foot the tab.
“Funding for the alternate care facility will come from the $445 million surge reserve fund set aside by Governor Evers to ensure the ability of Wisconsin hospital systems and communities to handle a surge of COVID-19 cases,” DHS stated.