Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week. The numbers have changed a bit, but the issue remains.
After Governor Tony Evers failed the unemployed of Wisconsin with his inept management of unemployment claims, he is compounding Wisconsin’s misery with his failure to administer the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. What is more infuriating is that when questioned about it, Evers blusters and obfuscates with all the indignation of a career bureaucrat unacquainted with accountability.
The numbers evolve by the hour, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of last Friday, Wisconsin has administered 169,803 doses of the vaccine. Only 2.6% of the population has received one dose; 0.3% are fully vaccinated. Wisconsin ranks 40th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in rolling out the vaccine on a per-capita basis.
The numbers are important. Wisconsin had received 437,900 doses of the vaccine as of that date. That means that Wisconsin has only administered 39% of the doses it has been given and 268,097 vaccine doses are sitting in refrigerators all over Wisconsin. Last week, Governor Evers admitted that his administration would be unable to begin inoculating the general public until June – over five months from now. It is a disgraceful admission of failure given with the banality of an indifferent government bureaucrat. One must delve into some gritty details to understand why the vaccine rollout is so lethargic in Wisconsin. One cause is that the Evers administration has been too slow in making decisions about how to roll it out. The dates are important.
Thanks to the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed, we were expecting the approval of one or more vaccines as early as September. The process for distribution would follow the traditional federal path whereby the federal government marshals supplies while the states are responsible for the details of distribution.
With this knowledge, Evers’ Department of Health Services created a subcommittee in early October to decide the strategy and priority list for vaccine distribution. After two months of deliberation, the 17-member subcommittee finally decided on Dec. 10 that the first group of people who should be in Phase 1A were to receive the vaccine first. The first Pfizer vaccine was approved on Dec. 11.
But that was just the first group. Then the subcommittee went to work on the next group: Phase 1B. After over a month, they had the proposed list available for public comment on Jan. 12. That very same day, the CDC gave guidance that states should open up vaccinations to everyone over the age of 65.
This subcommittee still needs to finalize Phase 1B before moving on to Phase 1C, Phase 2, etc. These are decisions that could be made in an afternoon. While Wisconsinites are suffering and being told that there is a medical crisis, Evers’ bureaucracy moves at its own pace – oblivious to the travails of the citizens it serves.
Meanwhile, the DHS is hoarding some doses to prevent them from being administered to the “wrong” people. The DHS is holding back distributing doses to pharmacies because they want to make sure there is enough for second doses. Meanwhile, the CDC advised that there is no need to hold back and fewer Wisconsinites are able to get their first dose.
As somewhat of an aside, it is also telling that there is a significant dip in vaccinations on the weekends and holidays. On New Year’s Day, for example, only 110 vaccines were administered in the entire state. If this is truly a pandemic emergency, they are sure not acting like it.
When confronted for his administration’s failures, Evers blames the federal government for not giving the state enough doses (despite having administered less than half of the doses available); blames Republicans; makes vigorous, if unsubstantiated, proclamations about the competence of his government; and refuses to accept any responsibility for his administration’s failures. However, despite his accusations and deflections, the simple truth is that Evers has failed to administer the doses Wisconsin has already been given.
Evers’ administration of the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has been too slow, too bureaucratic, and too lazy. While Wisconsinites are being asked to forgo their livelihoods, upend their lives, and accept a retardation of civil rights in response to a pandemic, Governor Evers and his administration are behaving like it is just a another day at the office.