Working with hospital and health system members as well as state legislators, the Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) enhanced its standing as a trusted and influential health policy advocate throughout the COVID-19 pandemic by initiating, crafting and helping to implement reforms necessary to maximize the state’s response to an unprecedented health emergency. WHA served as a critical source of information on the effect of COVID on the state’s health system and its patients and led a successful effort to curb the spread of the virus by encouraging Wisconsinites to adopt safe practices—wearing masks, maintaining social distance and washing hands.
WHA COVID Dashboard
Recognizing early on the lack of data needed to fight COVID-19, WHA and its subsidiary the Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center (WHAIC) quickly created an online dashboard to report daily information from Wisconsin’s seven Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalitions (HERCs) along with COVID-19 case data to provide informative, real-time and trended visualizations of the effects of the virus on the state’s health care system.
The WHA COVID-19 Situational Awareness Dashboard serves as a daily and reliable source of information for policymakers, the media and the general public. Referenced in hundreds of statewide news stories every month, the dashboard translates data into accurate and easy-to-understand visualizations of COVID-19 hospitalization, testing, case, death and supply capacity data. The dashboard informs key decision-making by helping users understand the current state of the pandemic and its changing intensity statewide and regionally and how all these measures trend over time.
In a milestone underscoring the value of WHA’s COVID-19 dashboard to the state’s pandemic response, the tool logged one million views on April 30, 2021, just over a year since its launch. During that time, the dashboard averaged 2,598 views per day.
The following milestones and data points from the dashboard tell part of Wisconsin’s COVID story thus far.
- April 2, 2020: WHAIC COVID-19 dashboard launched, 35,000 views in first 48 hours. 192 COVID-19 hospitalizations in Wisconsin—lowest one-day figure recorded to date.
- Nov. 16, 2020: 178 – Largest single-day increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Wisconsin.
- Nov. 17, 2020: 2,277 – Highest, or peak, number of COVID-19 patients being treated in Wisconsin hospitals on one day.
- Nov. 19, 2020: 113 – Largest single-day decrease in COVID-19 hospitalizations in Wisconsin.
- March 21, 2021: 193 COVID-19 hospitalizations recorded, lowest point since dashboard launch, reflecting a 91% decrease since Nov. 17 peak.
- April 30, 2021: WHAIC COVID-19 dashboard logs one million views, averaging 2,589 views per day.
Leading a Coalition Formed to Fight COVID
As the pace of virus spread threatened to overwhelm the stat’s hospitals and affect their ability to tread COVID and non-COVID patients alike, WHA assembled an influential group of the state’s leading advocacy organizations to form a broad-based coalition aimed at combatting the growing health crisis. The multi-industry Stop the COVID Spread! coalition, under WHA’s leadership and majority funding would grow to more than 135 organizations, including the Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks and Green Back Packers, as well as representatives of local governments, chambers of commerce and conventions and visitors bureaus from every corner of the state.
The Stop the COVID Spread! coalition developed and executed a multi-channel public education campaign which included seven public education announcements. The campaign drew upon wide-ranging Wisconsin perspectives, from higher education leaders to professional athletes, frontline health care workers and (bipartisan) elected officials. Ads produced and distributed by the coalition achieved an audience reach of well over 30 million on statewide television and radio. On digital platforms, the coalition’s ads have generated over 16 million impressions and reached more than six million devices across the state. One of the coalition’s ads—“frontlines”—was recognized by the American Association of Political Consultants (AAPC) with a bronze Pollie award in the category of Best Use of Radio in the Public Affairs/Issue Advocacy.