(The Center Square) – Wisconsin is marking the one year anniversary of its first coronavirus test.
The state’s Department of Health Services began testing for the virus on March 2, 2020. Since then, public health teams and the Wisconsin National Guard have performed more than 3 million tests.
“We developed an extensive testing system across the state that includes clinicians, our local partners, and community testing sites,” DHS’ Jennifer Williams told The Center Square. “This has been a challenging year for everyone, from kids in our schools to our oldest, most vulnerable residents. It meant putting our ways of life on hold, and has led to considerable stress and mental health challenges.”
Since last March, 564,268 people have tested positive for the virus. DHS says 97.5% of them have fully recovered. Over the past year 6,412 people in the state have died from or with the virus. DHS says nearly 80% of those people were 70-plus.
Wisconsin is approaching the vaccine threshold where more people have been protected from the virus that ever tested positive.
DHS reported on Tuesday that 928,958 people have gotten a dose of the vaccine, another 505,123 have received both doses. That means twice as many people have been vaccinated than those who ever tested positive in the state, and nearly as many people have been fully vaccinated.
But a year under the coronavirus in Wisconsin is about more than just testing and vaccinations.
Gov. Tony Evers issued his Safer at Home order on March 24, 2020. That was the beginning of a year of lockdowns, restrictions, and public health orders.
“The economic damage we have done to our fellow Wisconsinites by locking down for so long is unthinkable," MacIver Institute President Brett Healy said Tuesday. "It will take years for many families to recover from the forced government shutdown of our economy,” he said.
“The academic damage we have done to our children and the harm we have done to their futures is unconscionable," Healy added. "The lost year of learning will have a monumental impact not only on our children but also our future economy and progress as a state. Only time will tell how much the lost year of learning will cost all of us.”
Healy said after a year, the science and data is clear as to what Wisconsin should do about the virus.
“Instead of shutting everything down and forcing everyone to isolate, Gov. Evers should have focused our resources and our efforts on the elderly and those with a serious underlying health condition,” Healy explained.
“The data and the science made it clear that was the best approach to combating COVID-19 but unfortunately Gov. Evers chose to let fear and irrational predictions dictate his actions.”