When will Wisconsin go 'back to normal'? State leaders say late summer, fall is their best guess

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MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The country is closer than ever before to federal approval for a COVID-19 vaccine, but state leaders urge continued vigilance to help curb the spread of the virus.

"This is a state and national emergency," said Gov. Tony Evers during a media briefing Tuesday.

While COVID-19 vaccines are on the horizon, Evers warned this is not the time to get complacent.

"Our hospitals are overwhelmed. Our health care workers exhausted physically mentally and emotionally. And so many families and workers and loved ones have made enormous sacrifices for the health and safety of their neighbors," Evers said.

Testing is down statewide, according to Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. Palm encouraged people to get tested if they're exposed or symptomatic.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration could sign off on Pfizer's vaccine by the end of the week. Palm said after that happens, providers will be trained on administering the vaccines as well as potential side effects.

"Then, we will obviously start to put shots in arms. We do absolutely anticipate doing that this month," Palm said.

During the media briefing Palm was asked when things will go "back to normal" in Wisconsin. 

"It's the $64 million question," she responded.

She said late summer or fall would be her "best guess." However, she said, it's dependent on how many vaccine candidates get approved and in what time frame.

Health care workers will be the first to get the doses. It will take some time for the general public to get the vaccines. Palm said people need to remember how quickly the vaccine manufacturing process came together.

"This is a totally different scenario then we normally see (when) medications, vaccines, treatments come into the marketplace for the treatment of diseases. And that makes sense considering the urgency of this crisis, the daily infections and deaths that we're seeing here in Wisconsin and around around the country. This is very uncharacteristic for the way treatments and the distribution and the manufacturing of medications is normally done," she said.

Evers was asked whether he’ll get the vaccine. He replied "absolutely," saying that he and his wife, Kathy, will both get the vaccines, but they plan to wait for their turn. Palm said she will get the doses, as well.

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