MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin health officials are bracing for another wave of COVID-19 cases as the Omicron variant continues to spread. TMJ4 News asked Gov. Tony Evers if the state was preparing to have more home testing kits and get more people vaccinated.
The pandemic has defined a majority of Gov. Evers' first three years in office, and it's looking like that will continue into the new year with a new variant.
Charles Benson: "Is the State prepared for a likely surge with Omicron?"
Gov. Tony Evers: "Well, I think yes, the answer is yes. We've worked with our good folks at the county levels and the municipal levels for the whole time, and I know they're ready and able to take it on."
Gov. Evers says the game plan to take it on continues with getting people vaccinated or boosted.
Right now nearly 58% of the state's population would be considered fully vaccinated and 82% of people 65 and older have the highest vaccination rate. But the pace for first time doses has slowed.
President Trump recently indicated he had gotten the booster shot.
"We need to get people vaccinated," Evers said. "And that will continue to be an issue. Unfortunately [the vaccine] became a political issue across the country. And Wisconsin is no different than that. But we're going to continue to fight for that."
Benson: "Doesn't seem like people who don't have the vaccine right now or want to get the vaccines, even if you see another surge, if you see any incentives or changes in that?"
Evers: "We'll look at incentives. We did a few upfront and I suppose that's a possibility. But at the end of the day, I think we can - I mean we're doing thousands a day already and I wish we're doing 50,000 a day going forward. But as this new variant comes to be, I truly believe that we'll be getting more people shots in arms, that is the main issue. I'm not sure $1,000 a person or whatever is going to make all that difference."
More testing is on the way but will it be enough? As Omicron surged in New York City, testing lines were long and COVID-19 home testing kits were in short supply as people rushed to buy what was on store shelves.
President Biden says 500 million rapid home-testing kits will be available online for free in January.
Benson: "Do you feel the State will be prepared to have home testing kits for people who want them and need them? If we have this likely surge."
Evers: "Yes. Absolutely. That's a great question. Because I think testing is part of the solution. When people are testing they may you know, when they find out that they are COVID positive, they can at least avoid other people and not infect other people or get treatment right away, or hopefully both. So it'll help people kind of own their own health care. I think it's the right step."
More testing for COVID-19 as a third year of COVID-19 tests all of our patience.