Dear Friends,

Starting Monday, March 22nd, Wisconsin is expanding eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccines to people with pre-existing conditions. Anyone over the age of 16 with medical conditions that have a greater risk of severe infection will have access to the vaccines.

The state's vaccine registry is live. However, only a few health departments are currently included. The registry will ask questions to determine eligibility. People who are eligible will be able to sign up for an appointment. If you are not eligible yet, you will be put on a waiting list. While not every county is included yet, it is a start. You can also sign up for information from area pharmacies including Walgreens, CVS, and Northshore Pharmacy.

If you are eligible and having trouble finding the COVID-19 vaccine in your area, the State of Wisconsin now has a map of vaccine providers. The website not only helps link people to the vaccine but also provides information on how the state is distributing doses. The state also has a COVID-19 Vaccine Assistance Hotline. The hotline is offering personal assistance for vaccine-related questions. The toll-free number is 1-844-684-1064.

While it's encouraging to see more and more communities easing their restrictions, please be careful and continue to follow CDC guidelines. That includes wearing a mask, social distancing, and washing your hands.

As always, if you have any concerns or ideas on how to improve our great state, please do not hesitate to contact me by phone at 608-266-5830 or by email at Sen.Darling@legis.wisconsin.gov.

On, Wisconsin!
Darling Calls for Audit of DHS Reporting of Long-Term Care Deaths

That's why I am asking the chairs of the Legislative Audit Committee to investigate DHS and their handling of COVID-19 data. Their severe underreporting and lack of transparency put more lives at risk and diverted attention from the crisis in our long-term care facilities.

While previously, the administration’s data attributed 26-30% of COVID-19 deaths to long-term care facilities, accurate reporting now shows that 45% of all COVID-19 deaths in Wisconsin were linked to long-term care facilities.

In an interview on COVID-19 outbreaks in our long-term care facilities in April 2020, former Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said, “We want to make sure we are being as transparent as we can without exposing individuals and their privacy in a way that does not advance the public health.”

While DHS promised to promote transparency in COVID-19’s impact on long-term care facilities, their actions hid the gravity of the crisis in our long-term care facilities. The public deserves to know the truth about why DHS undercounted deaths in long-term care facilities and how this affected the Department and Governor Evers’ COVID-19 response.

Less than 10% of the $2 billion in federal dollars Governor Evers received for COVID-19 relief was directed to Wisconsin's long-term care facilities. As DHS was undercounting COVID-19 deaths in long-term care facilities, our state was one of the last in the nation to begin vaccinating our long-term care facility residents.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, our state has asked for transparency from the Evers administration. Transparency on when he planned to reopen the state. Transparency on when constituents could expect to see their unemployment checks. Transparency on when vaccines would be available for our seniors. Now we need transparency on why his Department failed to link 1,000 deaths accurately to long-term care facilities.
Senate Approves Holocaust Education Bill
Wisconsin is on pace to become the 17th state to require Holocaust education in schools. On Tuesday, the Wisconsin State Senate approved my bipartisan bill requiring middle school and high school students to learn about the Holocaust.

Unfortunately, we are losing the voices of first-hand accounts of Holocaust survivors. This bill will help make sure those voices are preserved forever and the important lessons of the Holocaust are never forgotten. My hope is this bill will help stop anti-Semitism and to encourage understanding.

My bill adds Holocaust education to the model academic standards for social studies. Also, it guarantees that Wisconsin students learn about the Holocaust at least once during middle school and once during high school.

The Nathan and Esther Pelz Holocaust Education Resource Center (HERC) in Milwaukee will provide the materials, programming, and professional development necessary to implement this requirement at no additional costs to schools. Over the past few months, HERC has built a comprehensive website that includes over 140 lesson plans (with even more in development) for schools to use free of charge.

Two-thirds of American millennials surveyed could not identify Auschwitz. Twenty-two percent of millennials in the poll said they haven’t heard of the Holocaust or are not sure whether they’ve heard of it — twice the percentage of U.S. adults who said the same.

We can’t expect kids to know history if they are never taught the truth about what happened during the Holocaust. The goal is to not only teach history but also compassion for different people and different cultures.
Senate Approves Sexual Assault Kit Tracking System
Also on Tuesday, the State Senate approved another bill I authored which will create the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Tracking System. I believe it's time the state ensures that sexual assault victims have access to information about their sexual assault kits.

My bill empowers survivors of sexual assault as their case goes through the legal system. I’ve worked with members of both houses and both parties to ensure that the Wisconsin statutes protect victims and prevent another backlog of cases.

The bill will create a database for health care professionals, law enforcement, state crime laboratory personnel, and prosecutors to update information on the location and status of a sexual assault kit. The bill also enables victims to track the location and status of their kit.

My bill now moves to the State Assembly.
Kids Need to Be Back in the Classroom
Kids need to be in school. Period. However, even with CDC approval and a plan to return in April, the Milwaukee teachers’ union is still dragging its feet.

The lockdowns are having a devastating effect on children's mental health and academic success. Students are falling behind and low-income, minorities, students with disabilities, and students learning English are suffering the most. We can't let our children's future be another victim of this pandemic.

On Sunday, the president of the Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association told UpFront that she was not in favor of returning to the district’s plan to begin a phased-in return on April 12th.

It is more and more clear that teachers' unions won’t let their members back into school this year, even though children are suffering. It’s incredibly disappointing to see them working against the needs of the children.

Schools can and should be open. In Florida, schools have safely re-opened without turning into super spreaders. I know we can expect the same results here in Wisconsin. In fact, President Biden announced on Wednesday that he was sending $10 billion for COVID-19 testing for schools to help get students back in the classroom.

Getting kids back in school remains a top priority for me as the chair of the Senate Education Committee. In July of 2020, I joined area school administrators and elected officials in supporting guidelines for re-opening area schools and getting children back into the classroom. To help share best practices and ideas, coordinated meetings with area lawmakers and superintendents to create a better understanding of the challenges facing local schools.
Help Sex Trafficking Victims
Please Donate Blood, Plasma
One way you can help is by donating blood. If you have recovered from COVID-19, please especially consider donating your plasma.

You can find out where to donate here and here.
COVID-19 Cases in Our Area
The table above contains data reported on March 17, 2021 from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on coronavirus cases in our area.
Emergency Room Visits with COVID Symptoms
COVID-19 Testing Available
Around the 8th...
You can sign up for emails to stay updated on when you can be vaccinated by visiting our county health department websites. Click on your county's health department for more information.





The Wisconsin Department of Health Services also recommends that you contact your healthcare provider to sign up to be vaccinated. You can also register with Meijer Pharmacy and they will notify you when the vaccine is available.