Weekend Roundup: DOA Closing Alternate Care Facility At Wisconsin State Fair Park

Facility Opened In October To Expand Care For COVID-19 Patients

A sign says "Gate 4" and "Ambulance patient pick up"
A sign outside of State Fair Park in West Allis on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020, where an overflow COVID-19 field hospital has been constructed. Abaxent, LLC, a Pewaukee-based Minority and Woman-Owned business received a state contact to do some IT work on the project. Angela Major/WPR

The Wisconsin Department of Administration announced Friday it’s closing Alternate Care Facility at Wisconsin State Fair Park.

“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,” said DOA Secretary Joel Brennan. “It not only brought relief to our hospitals but also provided quality and compassionate healthcare to Wisconsinites in their time of need.”

The facility is expected to be cleared out of the park by April.

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Wisconsin’s Vaccine Rollout

On Thursday, the state Department of Health Services said Wisconsin may have enough vaccine supply to immunize 80 percent of people 16 years and older by the end of June.

But DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said that supply on its own doesn’t necessarily translate into vaccinations.

“Supply is one thing, and then administration and demand are the other two important legs of the stool,” she said.

The governor’s office also announced plans for a mass-vaccination site in Eau Claire to open April 8.

On Friday, DHS announced four new pharmacies in Wisconsin will be receiving COVID-19 vaccine doses as a part of the federal pharmacy retail program this week. Community Pharmacy Enhanced Services Network, which includes some Hometown Pharmacies, Managed Health Care Associates, Meijer and Walmart, will join Walgreens and Kroger as program participants in Wisconsin.

As of Sunday, 1,644,999 Wisconsinites have received one dose of the vaccine, and 855,820 have been fully vaccinated.

A line of people in jackets and face masks wait to enter a door held open by a medical worker.
A line of people wait to receive a COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, March 11, 2021, outside of the Hayat Pharmacy in Milwaukee, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

State Assembly: To-Go Cocktails, Hair Styling and Rush Limbaugh

Bars and restaurants in Wisconsin would be able to sell cocktails to go under a proposal approved unanimously Wednesday by the state Assembly. It is yet to be voted on by the Wisconsin Senate.

Under the bill, licensed businesses would be able to sell the beverages as part of takeaway orders as long as the drinks are equipped with a “tamper-evident seal.” The Wisconsin Grocers Association and Wisconsin Public Health Association have registered their opposition to the bill.

Another bipartisan bill approved Wednesday would allow hairstylists in Wisconsin to provide natural hair-braiding services, like twisting and weaving, without a barbering or cosmetology license.

Assembly lawmakers also voted 56-35 to approve a resolution honoring the life of conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who died last month. The Senate approved a similar resolution earlier this week.

Many Democratic lawmakers opposed the resolution. Rep. Kristina Shelton, D-Green Bay, argued Limbaugh “exploited the politics of resentment for personal gain and profit.”

Badgers: Women’s Hockey Wins National Championship, Men’s Basketball Faces Baylor

The Wisconsin Badgers women’s hockey team won against Northeastern in the national championship game, marking the team’s sixth national title in women’s hockey.

The Badgers men’s basketball team plays in the second round of the NCAA tournaments Sunday afternoon, facing the Baylor Bears.

Wolf Hunt Results In Distrust Between Ojibwe Communities And State

Wisconsin’s rushed wolf hunt at the end of February resulted in the death of more than 200 wolves, and has raised concerns about the trust between Wisconsin tribes and state officials.

“At issue is how the rush to pull off a court-ordered wolf hunt in adherence with state law may have led the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to trample the spirit of long-held and hard-fought tribal treaty rights in ceded territory overlapping large swaths of northern Wisconsin,” Will Cushman reports for PBS Wisconsin. “Those treaty rights require the state of Wisconsin to consult with Ojibwe tribal governments in the co-management of natural resources within the territory.”

I-94 Expansion Could Have ‘Adverse Effects’ On Nearby Neighborhoods

Under Gov. Tony Evers’ budget proposal, $1 billion would be put toward a project that will expand I-94 from six lanes to eight lanes in Milwaukee.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation says the project would improve safety and reduce congestion. But opponents of the expansion believe it favors suburban commuters over those living in near the freeway, many of whom are people of color.

“It’s not just a transportation project,” Montavius Jones told the Journal Sentinel. “We get these adverse effects in Black and brown neighborhoods.”

Wisconsin ‘Woefully Behind’ COVID-19 Data Cleanup

The Wisconsin health department still has significant work to do when it comes to backtracking and cleaning up COVID-19 data. The change in data has some Wisconsinites confused, especially now that cases are lower than in the fall of 2020.

“I think it’s fair to say we’re woefully behind in some of that cleanup work,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the state Department of Health Services.

Criticism Of Unequal NCAA Amenities Results In Better Facility For Women’s Teams

Discrepancies between the facilities and amenities provided for the men’s and women’s NCAA teams, including their meals, training equipment and swag bags, were shared virally on social media starting Thursday.

As a result of the outrage, the NCAA on Saturday revealed an upgraded weight room for women’s basketball players.

“I want to be really clear,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said Friday. “This is not something that should have happened and, should we ever conduct a tournament like this again, will ever happen again.”