Gov. Evers to extend mask mandate, announces launch of mobile vaccination clinics

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MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The state is rolling out a new program aimed at speeding up vaccine distribution in Wisconsin.

Gov. Tony Evers also announced during a media briefing on Friday, Jan. 15 that he will extend the state's mask mandate and public health emergency order for another 60 days. They were set to expire next week.

Evers and the Department of Health Services announced the Mobile Vaccination Program will began Tuesday. Nine mobile clinics will open next week and will begin vaccinating people in Phases 1A and 1B.

"I know we are all anxious to get vaccinated and get back to a life that we knew. And we're going to continue as we have all long to distribute the vaccine safely, efficiently and fairly," Evers said.

The vaccine clinics will start vaccinating police officers, firefighters and unaffiliated health care providers. 

"Right now, the mobile clinics are not open to the general public because the general public is not eligible for a vaccine," said Julie Willems Van Dijk, deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, or DHS.

The teams of 12 to 15 will be made up of Wisconsin National Guard members, and pharmacy or nursing student volunteers. Willems Van Dijk estimates that they will be able to administer between 70 and 140 shots each day.

Willems Van Dijk would not say us where the mobile vaccine clinics will be but said people who are eligible will be told by their local health departments.

Evers and DHS continue to call on the federal government to allocate more vaccine doses for Wisconsin. The state is receiving 467,000 doses a month, but Willems Van Dijk said it's not enough.

"If we wanted to have 80 percent herd immunity, which is our goal, by the end of June ... we would need 1.4 million doses per month in order to accomplish that," Willems Van Dijk said. "We'd need three times the amount of vaccines that we are currently receiving."

This comes as Wisconsin and other states learn the federal government doesn't have a reserve of vaccines as the Trump administration had previously said.

"It was a slap in the face to the people of Wisconsin," Evers said.

On Friday, DHS also announced it will be moving to Part B in its partnership between large pharmacy chains and long-term care facilities. That means pharmacies that have finished vaccinating nursing homes can now move on to assisted living facilities.

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