DHS issues public health advisory about Omicron COVID-19 variant ahead of anticipated case surge
For the Tomahawk Leader
WISCONSIN – The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) on Monday, Dec. 20 issued a public health advisory calling on all Wisconsinites to “take urgent action to prevent additional hospitalizations and deaths due to COVID-19.”
The full advisory can be viewed at www.bit.ly/3H1Gtbh.
“The highly contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in Wisconsin and is anticipated to cause a rapid increase in disease activity in the coming weeks,” DHS said in a release. “There is a serious risk that continued, increased numbers of COVID-19 cases will overwhelm an already strained health care system, leading to dangerous situations where patients experiencing medical emergencies may not be able to receive immediate, adequate, life-saving attention and care due to lack of hospital capacity.”
DHS urged all Wisconsinites to take the following actions to slow the spread of the Omicron variant:
- Get vaccinated against COVID-19, including a booster dose as soon as you are eligible.
- Wear a well-fitting mask in indoor spaces when others who do not live with you are present.
- Celebrate safely over the holidays by keeping gatherings small, getting tested before visiting others, and staying home if you have any symptoms.
DHS said anyone with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested, regardless of vaccination status.
“If you are exposed to COVID-19, get tested five to seven days after exposure,” DHS stated. “If you are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, stay home while you are waiting for your results. Trusted testing partners include local health departments, community testing sites, pharmacies, and health care providers. At-home COVID-19 tests can also be used before gathering with family and friends. DHS currently provides free at-home collection kits, a type of at-home test, for all Wisconsinites.”
“I urge every Wisconsinite to take immediate action and get the COVID-19 vaccine and your booster dose if you haven’t received it already—this is critically important for mitigating surges in hospitalizations and deaths across our state,” said Governor Tony Evers. “Please get the vaccine, continue following public health best practices, and do your part to help slow the spread of the Omicron variant.”
“To prevent the spread of disease and protect yourself and loved ones this holiday season, we urge Wisconsinites to plan ahead,” said Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “Keep holiday gatherings small, stay home if you have been exposed or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, and get tested before spending time with people you do not live with.”
“DHS recognizes that this pandemic has caused all of us to make changes to our lives, and our holidays, to protect each other from COVID-19,” the release said. “These are difficult times for everyone, and while we must do our part to protect our physical health, we also need to monitor our emotional well-being.”
For resources on coping and ways manage stress, visit Resilient Wisconsin at www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/resilient/index.htm.
To find a COVID-19 vaccine provider in your community, visit www.vaccines.gov call 211 or 877-947-2211.