My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Since I hammered on Evers for his poor administration of the vaccine rollout last week, I thought it behooved me to offer a few ways to improve it.
Last week this column was highly critical of Governor Tony Evers’ administration’s utter incompetence in managing the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine. Another week has passed, and Wisconsin has dropped from 40th to 43rd of the 50 states in the number of doses administered per 100,000 citizens. An old boss once told me to never bring him a problem without at least one solution, so here are a few suggestions that Governor Evers could do to improve his failing administration.
First, Governor Evers needs to take ownership of the decision-making process. Just last Wednesday, the state vaccine advisory subcommittee voted to approve which Wisconsinites will be included in Phase 1B – the second group of Wisconsinites who will be eligible to receive the vaccine. Now that the subcommittee has approved it, the full committee will need to review the plan. If the full committee decides that they want to modify the eligibility, then it will go back to the subcommittee for more work. If the full committee votes to approve Phase 1B, then the subcommittee and full committee will begin work on Phase 1C and eventually Phase 2. The vaccine has been available for almost seven weeks and Wisconsin still has not decided who will be in the second wave. That is entirely too slow. If this is truly an emergency, then Governor Evers needs to act like it. Governor Evers should get into a room with the committee, advisers, and other important stakeholders and not leave until all of the phases are determined. These are decisions that can, and should, be made in an afternoon.
Third, the overriding focus of vaccine distribution and administration should be to put needles into as many arms as possible. It is an emergency, right? In an emergency, speed of execution is more important than accuracy. As General George S. Patton famously quipped, “a good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
That means that while clinics should prioritize the distribution according to the 1A, 1B, etc. phases, the first priority should be to empty the refrigerators of vaccines as quickly as possible. Ideally, the time between when a clinic receives an order of doses and when they are out and need to order more should be less than 48 hours. It is better for a vaccine to go into the arm of someone in Phase 1C instead of sitting in storage for two days.