The Wisconsin Department of Health Services on 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 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.

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.

“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 Gov. 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 slow the spread of the Omicron variant, DHS is urging all Wisconsinites to take the following actions immediately:

  • 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 are present who do not live with you.
  • Celebrate safely over the holidays by keeping gatherings small, getting tested before visiting others, and staying home if you have any symptoms.

“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.”

Anyone with signs or symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested, regardless of their vaccination status. If you are exposed to COVID-19, get tested 5-7 days after exposure.

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.

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. For resources on coping and ways manage stress, visit Resilient Wisconsin.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine provider in your community, visit Vaccines.gov, or call 211 or 877-947-2211. For up-to-date information about Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response, visit the DHS COVID-19 webpage.

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