Vicki Nicolas-Ibarra holds a photo of her mother, Rosemary Kraemer, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. Kraemer died Oct. 14, 2020, of complications from COVID-19 at age 74. Credit: Angela Major / WPR
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Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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As Wisconsin begins to roll out the coronavirus vaccine, public health experts are warning residents not to let their guard down against a virus that continues to kill dozens of Wisconsinites each day. 

The Department of Health Services is prioritizing health care workers as it distributes early shipments of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, Corrinne Hess reports for WPR. But it will likely take months to vaccinate most of the general population, meaning mask-wearing and social distancing remain crucial to limit infections and deaths in the pandemic’s homestretch.  

What’s more, Hess reports: Trials have illustrated the vaccine’s effectiveness for preventing sickness, but experts aren’t sure whether vaccinated people could still spread the virus to others. 

“We’re probably talking about wearing masks and social distancing through the summer, most likely,” Dr. John Raymond, president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin, told Hess. 

Confirmed new infections have plunged in recent weeks — down to average of 3,421 cases reported Tuesday from peak averages above 6,500 a month ago, DHS data show. But those figures are still hovering above infection averages from before October, and public health officials have fretted about a recent drop in testing. 

DHS reported 54 new COVID-19 deaths Tuesday, pushing Wisconsin’s total to 4,122 during the pandemic.

Top Stories

Vicki Nicolas-Ibarra holds a photo of her mother, Rosemary Kraemer, Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020. Kraemer died Oct. 14, 2020, of complications from COVID-19 at age 74. Credit: Angela Major / WPR

A coronavirus vaccine is here, but precautions still necessary, experts say — WPR 

Rosemary Kraemer, beloved mother, grandmother and ‘GG’, dies of COVID-19 at 74 — WPR 

Indoor gatherings of up to 10 people allowed under new Dane County COVID-19 order — Wisconsin State Journal 

East High student’s death last month confirmed as COVID-19 — Wisconsin State Journal 

Sen. Nass says COVID bill must require districts like Racine that have been mostly virtual to compensate parents — The Journal Times

Local restaurant owners plead for help to make it through winter — Channel 3000

If COVID-19 conditions allow, Appleton Area School District students will return to class in hybrid model next semester — Appleton Post-Crescent

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Quotable

“I want to inspire people, especially the patients that look like me and I take care of every day, that it’s OK to get vaccinated, it’s safe.”

Chestina Schubert, a UW Health respiratory therapist, as quoted by the Cap Times after getting a COVID-19 vaccine Monday

“While there’s light at the end of the tunnel with vaccine distribution beginning across our state and nation, we are not out of the woods yet and in order to continue our response into the new year we will need robust support from the federal government.”

Gov. Tony Evers in a statement

“As Wisconsinites, we are called to protect our neighbors and our communities during these difficult times, and as faith leaders we have an obligation to take action and speak out against our elected officials’ inadequate response to these crises.”

Faithful Action for a Healthy Wisconsin, a coalition of faith leaders from the Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist traditions, in a statement calling for more COVID-19 protections for frontline workers and vulnerable residents

Data to note

WisContext offers these visualizations of Wisconsin COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

Calculate your exposure risk

In Wisconsin, even small gatherings can carry a big risk of exposure to the coronavirus, according to a nationwide tool that estimates the danger by the size of gathering and county in which it is held. Data scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Stanford University developed the tool, which you can find here.

Resilient Wisconsin

People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us: tips@wisconsinwatch.org

Helping Hands 2020: Children offer hope to others in a world complicated by COVID-19 — Wisconsin State Journal

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The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.