Feds to Allocate More Vaccine, Milwaukee Eases COVID Restrictions

By Will Kenneally

February 2, 2021

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COVID-19 vaccine

Army Spc. Angel Laureano holds a vial of the COVID-19 vaccine, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Md., Dec. 14, 2020. (Courtesy: Lisa Ferdinando / U.S. Dept. of Defense)

Milwaukee relaxed its COVID-19 restrictions as the federal government promised a faster vaccine rollout.

The new Milwaukee order allows for gatherings of up to 250 people, provided that the gathering remains under 25% of the room’s capacity and allows for 30 square feet of space for every person. Organizers of gatherings of more than 250 people must first submit safety plans to the Milwaukee Health Department.

The new order also relaxes some of the requirements for sports teams in Milwaukee.

This also comes as the federal government said Tuesday it is committed to increasing the supply of vaccine it will ship to the states.

Wisconsin officials said a lack of vaccine from the federal government has slowed the state’s vaccination progress. U.S. COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said during a Tuesday media briefing the federal government will increase states’ weekly allocation by 5%.

Last week, Wisconsin administered more than 200,000 COVID-19 vaccines, which is significantly larger than the state’s weekly allocation of roughly 70,000 doses. Deputy health secretary Julie Willems Van Dije said Tuesday that was partially due to a larger allocation of vaccines to Wisconsin, in addition to a larger population of Wisconsinites eligible to receive the vaccine.

“I absolutely do think the broadening of the population caused our vaccinators to ask for more vaccine and we got it to them,” she said.

Zients said Tuesday the federal government is also looking to expand vaccine allocations directly to pharmacies. This would be in addition to a federal program that uses some national pharmacy chains to help vaccinate nursing home residents.

“This will provide more sites for people to get vaccinated in their communities, and it’s an important component to delivering vaccines equitably,” he said.

This will include 190 Walgreens locations, which expects to provide roughly 17,800 vaccinations from the federal government supply.

 Eligible Wisconsinites can sign up through an online portal, or by calling their local pharmacy. The vaccines are expected to be available starting Feb. 12.

The federal government is also working to expand FEMA-run vaccination sites, with the goal of having 100 sites up and running by the end of President Joe Biden’s first month in office. Dane County Exec. Joe Parisi said Tuesday that his county applied to host one of those vaccination sites through the Alliant Energy Center.

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