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ICYMI: WMC Fights for Manufacturing Workers to Be Eligible for COVID-19 Vaccine

MADISON – Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) – the combined state chamber and manufacturers’ association – has urged Gov. Tony Evers and his Administration for months to add manufacturing workers to the list of individuals eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Unfortunately, as Phase 1c eligibility begins on Monday, manufacturing workers are still left off the list.

“It’s really quite disappointing that Gov. Tony Evers and the Department of Health Services would ignore the federal recommendations that said manufacturing workers should be in this next phase,” WMC Vice President of Communications Nick Novak told Green Bay’s FOX11 in a recent interview.

Medical experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that manufacturing workers be included in Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout. “Because their work-related duties must be performed on-site and involve being in close proximity to the public or to coworkers,” the CDC said they should be prioritized with other essential workers.

That phase started at the beginning of the month, but manufacturing workers were left out in Wisconsin. Gov. Evers and the state’s Department of Health Services (DHS) also kept manufacturing workers off the eligibility list for Phase 1c – again in contrast to CDC recommendations.

“The CDC said that manufacturing workers should be in phase 1B,” said Novak in an interview with Milwaukee’s CBS58 last week. “Manufacturing workers don’t have the ability to work from home.”

WMC has urged Gov. Evers and his Administration to change course through numerous letters and conversations with DHS. However, under the current rules, most manufacturing workers will have to wait until the general public is eligible for the vaccine in May.

“They have gone into work every single day to produce PPE, to produce hand sanitizer, to produce test kits,” Novak said during an interview with Madison’s WISC-TV this week. “They have been a part of the response to COVID-19 and they’ve been deemed essential, but now when it comes to getting the vaccine, Gov. Evers and DHS have said they’re not essential. Simply, they’re not going to be prioritized.”

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