Morning Update: Monday, Sept. 20

Morning Update: Monday, Sept. 20

RIP Freakfest & congrats to the class of 2020

Merry Monday, Madison!

Here's a big ol' national story to start your week: Pfizer announced this morning that its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective for children 5 to 11 years old.

This is huge. Why?

Because according to the New York Times, kids now account for one in five COVID-19 cases in the U.S. and the Delta variant has sent more kids to the hospital in the past weeks than any other time in the pandemic.

Pfizer is planning to apply for authorization from the Food and Drug Administration to use its vaccine in kids and if the process goes as smoothly as it did for teens and adults, millions of young children could be vaccinated by Halloween.

Now, let's get local.

— Hayley

🎃 Speaking of Halloween, Freakfest is off, again. RIP.

  • The annual downtown Halloween music festival was called off for the second year in a row thanks to COVID-19.
  • A statement from Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway: “Cases of the Delta variant are still on the rise in our state and our county. As we work to keep residents in our community safe and healthy, it is common sense that there will be no City-sponsored Freakfest this year."
  • When it comes to trick or treaters, Public Health Madison & Dane County recommends "giving out treats outdoors, limiting contact with others, wearing a mask, and washing hands before handling treats."

🎓 Congratulations to the class of 2020 (again)!

  • UW-Madison celebrated its 2020 graduates with an official in-person ceremony at Camp Randall over the weekend.
  • About one third of the 8,000 2020 grads attended the ceremony where Milwaukee Bucks shooting guard Pat Connaughton gave the keynote speech — he even brought the Bucks’ NBA Finals trophy.

🧪 Fitchburg's Promega is working to predict COVID-19 outbreaks through wastewater.

  • The company conduced research at wastewater treatment plants in Madison, Sun Prairie, and Oregon. Through a method of purification, researchers found they could capture the genetic information of the virus directly from the wastewater.
  • While the science behind the practice isn't new, the State Journal reports that Promega's tools can detect COVID-19 in samples within a matter of hours, whereas other technology can take half a day to do the same thing. This could be huge when it comes to prevention.

🖥️ UW-Madison has plans to build a state of the art School of Computer, Data & Information Sciences.

  • The $225 million project is largely funded by the Morgridge family, who has committed $75 million to the project. The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation has promised another $50 million, leaving UW left to raise another $50 million which the Morgridges will match.
  • The building is designed to be "the most sustainable" on campus and is set to open in 2024, Cap Times reports.

💉 This Janesville company is warning employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19 or pay the price — literally.

  • Last week, Mercyhealth announced it would impose monthly fees on its unvaccinated employees. The charges will range from $60 to $265 per month and are based on the employee’s salary.
  • Some fear that such fees will bring employees to quit during a time when hospital staff are already stretched thin. Mercyhealth, however, says the fees "are meant to offset the added risk of unvaccinated employees becoming seriously ill with COVID-19, requiring around-the-clock care and missing work," WPR reports.

🏐 Wisconsin sports winners and losers.

🌝 Don't miss the harvest moon this week.

  • The harvest moon will shine bright tonight and will continue to appear full through Tuesday morning. The moon will rise around sunset (which will be at about 7 p.m. tonight) to be sure to look out your windows.

📜 Your lunchtime read: Your history.

🦠 Covid-19 Resources

Wisconsin Vaccination Rate: 52.8%

Dane County Vaccination Rate: 70.3%

Here's where to find a COVID-19 vaccine near you.

Need a COVID-19 test? PHMDC has you covered.

Are you eligible for a third dose of Pfizer or Moderna? Find out here.

Header image via UW Madison Twitter