Wisconsin COVID-19 Update: State Employees Must Vaccinate or Test Weekly; State, Milwaukee Fund Vaccine Incentives

As of September 27, Wisconsin had administered about 6.34 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with 3.1 million Wisconsin residents or 53.5 percent of the state’s population fully vaccinated. The state’s seven-day average of new confirmed cases was 2,603 cases per day. That number peaked in November 2020 at around 6,500 cases per day. About 7,930 people with COVID-19 have died in Wisconsin.

Over the first six months of 2021, the seven-day average of positive tests out of total tests declined, from 10.2 percent on January 1 to 0.9 percent on June 29. It has since risen to 7.9 percent as of September 27. In 2020, the seven-day average of positive tests out of total tests peaked at over 17 percent in November.

Vaccine and testing data are from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS). Vaccine appointments can be scheduled using the Wisconsin COVID-19 Vaccine Registry. All U.S. residents aged 12 years and older are eligible to receive a free COVID-19 vaccine.

State Government to Require Weekly Testing for Unvaccinated Employees

Beginning October 18, Wisconsin state employees, interns, and contractors who have not verified their COVID-19 vaccination status with the state or who have confirmed that they are not fully vaccinated against COVID-19 will be required to undergo weekly testing for the disease. The state Department of Administration (DOA), which administers employment policies for the executive branch, issued a guidance document on September 14 explaining the new policy.

Employees of the Wisconsin Legislature and the state court system are not affected by this requirement. Unvaccinated state employees who work from home and do not interact with other state employees or members of the public as part of their job are exempt from the weekly testing requirement. According to DOA, as of September 10, nearly 70 percent of Wisconsin’s executive branch employees reported that they were at least partially vaccinated.

State, Milwaukee Use Incentives to Encourage Vaccinations

DHS and Governor Tony Evers (D) recently announced that more than 142,000 Wisconsin residents received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine between August 20 and September 19. During that period, the state offered a vaccine incentive program under which Wisconsinites receiving their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine were eligible for a $100 U.S. Bank rewards card.

Individuals who were vaccinated during that period have until September 30 to submit a reward claim. The incentive program was originally slated to end on September 1 but was extended by Gov. Evers and DHS.

Shortly after the state’s vaccine incentive program ended, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced that the city would implement a similar program beginning September 23. Milwaukee residents receiving their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at one of two city-run health centers will be able to claim a $100 gift card. The program will run until 1,000 gift cards are awarded.