Lt. Gov. Barnes gets his first COVID vaccine in Milwaukee

    Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes speaks to press before getting his COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo | Isiah Holmes)
    Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes speaks to press before getting his COVID-19 vaccine. (Photo | Isiah Holmes)

    Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes got his first dose of COVID-19 vaccine on April 5, at a site in Milwaukee’s North Division High School. “At one point Wisconsin was the epicenter,” said Barnes, “and I’m so proud of the work that the Department of Health Services (DHS) has done to make sure that vaccine accessibility is there for anybody who wants it there.”

    To date, over 580,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Wisconsin. Some 6,640 people have died of COVID-related causes since the pandemic’s onset. Deaths from the virus statewide account for 1.1% of all those who have tested positive. Statewide positive tests have been trending down over the last seven-day period, according to the DHS web page tracking COVID-19.

    The COVID-19 vaccine site inside the gym of North Division High School. (Photo | Isiah Holmes)
    The COVID-19 vaccine site inside the gym of North Division High School. (Photo | Isiah Holmes)

    Barnes also highlighted with pride that Wisconsin is leading the nation in administered COVID vaccines. North Division High School, where he received his shot, was not far from the first outbreaks of COVID in Milwaukee were detected last year. Over 101,000 people in Milwaukee have tested positive for the virus, resulting in over 6,100 hospitalizations and 1,084 deaths.

    “This is going to be my first round of the vaccine,” said Barnes during a press conference shortly before getting in line. “I didn’t want to get a shot if other people in the community weren’t able to do so. Now that that time has come, I am being responsible.” Barnes added that “not only do I want to keep myself safe but also doing the work to keep the people around us safe.”

    Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes fills out some brief paper work before getting in line for his vaccine. (Photo | Isiah Holmes)
    Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes fills out some brief paper work before getting in line for his vaccine. (Photo | Isiah Holmes)

    Despite the political challenges around COVID regulations and restrictions in Wisconsin, Barnes sees light at the end of  the tunnel. COVID testing has become widely available, and satellite facilities offering COVID-related services remain operational around the city. Barnes also hoped that by getting the vaccine he could encourage others in the community to do the same, he told the Examiner. “I think that it’s important that people — my friends, my family members, my neighbors — I just want to make sure that they know that this vaccine is available to them if they have not already taken advantage of an opportunity to get their shot.”

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    Isiah Holmes
    Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holmes' video work dates back to his high school days at Wauwatosa East High, when he made a documentary about the local police department. Since then, his writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, and other outlets.