EAU CLAIRE — Efforts at the new mass COVID-19 vaccination site at UW-Eau Claire appear to be going well.

The new regional site opened last week at Zorn Arena, 121 Garfield Ave. It is open Tuesday through Saturday and is free for anyone in Wisconsin age 16 and over. The site offers up to 700 vaccination appointments per day. Visit vaccinate.wi.gov to sign up for an appointment.

During the Eau Claire County COVID-19 task force meeting Wednesday, Lieske Giese, director of the Eau Claire City-County Health Department, said the Health Department receives 3,500 Pfizer vaccines each week for the new site. Those vaccines require two doses administered three weeks apart.

“We have plenty of vaccine availability across the area,” Giese said. “Anybody that lives, works, studies in Wisconsin is able to get vaccinated.”

The Health Department and UW-Eau Claire are overseeing the site. The Federal Emergency Management Agency, Wisconsin National Guard and volunteers are also providing assistance.

“It is a very complex and challenging partnership, but it is, to date, working,” Giese said.

Giese noted Wednesday that the county this week paused vaccinating people with vaccines from Johnson & Johnson. That pause follows federal recommendations after extremely rare blood clots were reported by six people out of the nearly 7 million who received a J&J vaccine in the U.S.

COVID-19 aid potential spending

The task force received information on how Eau Claire County is framing discussions regarding potential spending of $20.3 million in COVID-19 relief money. No spending decisions have been made yet, since federal spending guidelines won’t be released until at least next month.

The money is part of the American Rescue Plan Act, a coronavirus relief bill Congress passed in March. The county will receive half of that $20.3 million next month and the remaining half next year. All of the money must be spent by the end of 2024.

County Administrator Kathryn Schauf noted that the money cannot be used to reimburse the county for spending that has already occurred.

“We have to wait till we get the money and then spend it,” Schauf said.

In addition to potentially using some of the money on pandemic-related expenses, Giese suggested proactively spending to improve social determinants of health like affordable housing and poverty.

“There is a lot of interest from public health officials across the state related to, ‘How do we impact social determinants of health long-term with investments made with these funds that will really impact prevention of a whole variety of health issues?” Giese said.

The more than $20 million in direct aid to the county is separate from the money received by municipalities in the county. The cities, towns and villages in Eau Claire County are set to receive more than $17 million combined in direct aid.

According to a county document, the allocations to municipalities in Eau Claire County are:

  • Eau Claire: $13.42 million.
  • Altoona: $780,000.
  • Augusta: $150,000.
  • Bridge Creek: $210,000.
  • Brunswick: $180,000.
  • Clear Creek: $90,000.
  • Drammen: $80,000.
  • Town of Fairchild: $40,000.
  • Village of Fairchild: $60,000.
  • Fall Creek: $130,000.
  • Lincoln: $120,000.
  • Ludington: $110,000.
  • Otter Creek: $50,000.
  • Pleasant Valley: $340,000.
  • Seymour: $330,000.
  • Union: $280,000.
  • Washington: $760,000.
  • Wilson: $50,000.

The next county COVID-19 task force meeting is scheduled for May 12.