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Dane County, City of Madison employees now required to get COVID vaccine or get weekly test


Officials say details on a deadline for employees to get the vaccine will be communicated to employees in the next couple of weeks, but those timelines have not yet been finalized.

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said a survey indicated that about 90 percent of the City’s 2,800 employees were already vaccinated. Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said the County had not conducted such a survey. The County has about 2,400 employees, Parisi said. The vaccine requirements will also apply to those working from home.

Both County and City employees would be subject to discipline if they refused both the vaccine and the weekly COVID testing.

Parisi urged private employers to follow suit.

“We all need to work together to encourage as many people as possible to finish the deal, to get vaccinated,” he said.

He also noted that children younger than 12 still can’t get vaccinated.

“We must protect our kids and we can do that by getting vaccinated,” he said. “CDC has also recommended that all schools utilize masking this fall. While Public Health Madison Dane County does not have the authority to mandate masks in schools. They do join the CDC in encouraging schools to adhere to this recommendation to mask up.”

Public Health Madison & Dane County director Janel Heinrich said the daily average of new cases in Dane County has risen from seven on June 15 to nearly 67 today, but that hasn’t resulted in a corresponding increase in hospitalizations here due to an already-high rate of vaccinations.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports that 67.4 percent of Dane County residents are fully vaccinated, but only 34.5 percent of Black residents are. Rhodes-Conway said opportunities are available to close that gap.

“Public Health is making available pop-up clinics all across the county and partnering with a number of different organizations that particularly targeted at communities where vaccination rates are lower to make vaccine available to them,” she said. “The vaccine is available through healthcare providers and pharmacies as well. There are a number of opportunities for people to access the vaccine in or near their neighborhoods.”

The announcement of the vaccine requirement comes as coronavirus case numbers continue to rise sharply in Wisconsin, although COVID-related deaths remain low. Nearly 500 new cases were reported statewide on Monday, a drop from Friday when more than 1,000 cases were reported in a single day for the first time in almost four months.

The statewide 7-day rolling average of new cases is now up to 797, a large increase from a month ago, when the 7-day daily average was just 76.

One new COVID-related death was reported in Wisconsin Monday.

Even before the vaccine requirement, Dane County has consistently had one of the highest vaccination rates in the state — and the country. As of Monday, 70.4% of the county’s population had received at least one dose of the vaccine. That’s significantly higher than the 52% of the state’s overall population that has received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, and the 49.4% of the state that has completed the vaccine series.

Our content partner Channel3000.com contributed to this report.