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Coronavirus Preparations Continue; Latest DHS Briefing

March 05, 2020

As WHA continues to assist member hospitals, health systems and government agencies in preparing for any further coronavirus (COVID-19) developments, the state’s Department of Health Services (DHS) held a briefing on COVID-19 in the State Capitol March 4 for legislators and staff. DHS Secretary Andrea Palm told dozens of policymakers in the audience that the briefing was a chance to “level-set” a baseline understanding of the latest information about the virus and the state’s preparations thus far.

“I want to reiterate that the risk to the general public remains low at this time,” Palm said. “As the situation evolves, our guidance will evolve as well.” You can see the entire briefing via the WisconsinEye Network; WHA is a major sponsor of WisconsinEye.

WHA President and CEO Eric Borgerding promoted the briefing in a March 3 message to the state Legislature. That message also provided the latest information on the virus, links to helpful government resources and information about WHA’s widespread collaboration to help with preparations.

“We are also working to ensure open communication channels with local, state, and federal public health and emergency preparedness agencies,” Borgerding said, also noting WHA’s collaboration with other organizations such as the American Hospital Association, Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative and the Wisconsin Medical Society. “WHA has assisted in this capacity with previous response efforts related to Ebola, H1N1, SARS and others, and routinely assists with seasonal influenza response efforts,” Borgerding said.

The multifaceted collaboration among WHA, other health care entities and public policymakers bolsters a recent Trust for America’s Health study finding that Wisconsin is one of the states most prepared for health emergencies, and thus is a state best capable to respond to any COVID-19 escalation. The study places Wisconsin in the highest of three tiers based on factors including ranking of hospitals, public health funding and the number of health workers.

Contact WHA Vice President for Clinical Practice and Workforce Ann Zenk, R.N. or Chief Medical Officer Mark Kaufman, M.D. with questions.

This story originally appeared in the March 05, 2020 edition of WHA Newsletter