DHS secretary talks all things COVID-19 at stop in New Richmond
The fear of the unknown.
While there has been recent positivity in the fight against COVID-19, state public health officials are far from stating mission accomplished.
“There’s always the possibility a new variant could come along and cause more problems,” said Department of Health Services secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “That’s why it continues to be so important to get vaccinated and get your booster doses when eligible. That will keep people safe and healthy out of hospitals.”
Timberlake made these remarks while at the St. Croix County Health and Human Services Department in New Richmond April 22 as part of a Thank You Tour Stop.
“We wanted to say thank you to the people that have worked so hard and sacrificed so much over these last two years,” she said.
Timberlake touched on a wide variety of topics, which included the following:
The number of cases
“We are concerned about the trends,” she said. The trends are relied on three pieces of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days; new COVID hospitalizations and percent of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19. Timberlake said April 22 out of the 72 counties in the state, three are in the yellow category, which is some cause for concern. Dane due to the large number of new cases with Barron and Rusk being the other two due to the increase in hospitalizations. “What does all this mean? Get your vaccines and boosters,” she summarized. Those data points can be found on the DHS website.
“It is a thing we are going to continue to manage through,” she said. “All of us know people in our lives that are getting their information from sources that are less than fully reliable. All of us know where those better sources are.” To counter that, she opined, talk to that person on an individual basis to hear them out and why they believe that way.
Then and Now
“Testing is becoming cheaper and easier by the week which is critical to know if the person will have the flu, cold, allergies or COVID because each response is different,” she said. It’s one of the DHS’ objectives, she said, to fill in the gaps across the state, so while there may not be a pharmacy on every corner in the state, health care can be accessible to all. American Rescue Plan Act funds will help with that, she added.
What to do in the future
If another pandemic comes, Timberlake believes, “we will be readier today for what comes than what we were two years ago.” Why? The systems already in place have been strengthened at the county and state level, she said, along with new connections and partnerships with nonprofit or community organizations.
During her speech Timberlake explained there was a link on the DHS’ website in which medical personnel were highlighted for their work over the last 25 months. Besides those at the St. Croix County Health Department and the school nurses in Pierce County, the vaccine team in Balsam Lake was featured.
“It was an incredible organization in place,” Timberlake said, reading the description. “I was handled efficiently and effectively. The service is very appreciated.”