Dr. Rai begging people to get vaccinated as Wisconsin leads nation in COVID cases per 100,000

Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 7:34 AM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - “A year later, all we’re begging you to do on the behalf of all of health care, and I really mean begging, is get vaccinated if you’re not vaccinated and get boosted if you’re not boosted yet.” That’s the message from Prevea President and CEO Dr. Ashok Rai as Wisconsin leads the nation in a COVID indicator and fears of omicron’s rapid replication.

Dr. Rai joined us on Action 2 News This Morning to talk about the one year anniversary of the first COVID shots in Northeast Wisconsin and why it’s so crucial people get vaccinated and boosted.


“I think I said on the air a year ago it was the beginning of the end. Who would have predicted we’d still be here?

“There still is hope, but who would have predicted that after giving that many shots and opening up mass vaccination clinics and everything that we would have experienced the pushback that we have. Whether you call it an anti-vax movement or a misinformation movement, we were there trying to bring an end to this, and we never would have predicted the pushback that people that just didn’t quite understand--and still don’t quite understand--that the need, the only way out of this--and we said that a year ago, this was our way out, vaccination was the way out, is the way out--and to still have that pushback a year a later and not have given more shots--we’ve given a quarter million, I was hoping maybe a half a million by this point--and getting everybody vaccinated and boosted. There’s a frustration level with that, but also we have to celebrate what we have accomplished, too.”


“If you were to look at our cases per 100,000, and we’ve talked about that almost every week now, cases per 100,000 is a good benchmark--and if you actually were to rank order us, we’re number one, and number one in a bad way. We have the highest number of cases per 100,000 in the country as of yesterday (Dec. 15). We are the worst state in the United States when it comes to the number of cases per our population.”


“We are exhausted by the knowledge that we are the duct tape that is preventing the complete collapse of the health care system,” said Dr. Kyle McCarthy, Director of Emergency Services for HSHS St. Vincent and St. Mary’s Hospitals.

DR. RAI: “Dr. McCarty’s an amazing physician. I’ve worked with him. It’s hard to hear him say that because I know the emotion that’s coming out. As an ER physician they can’t say no, they can’t close doors, they don’t close doors. We took an oath. They’re going to take care of everybody who comes through, and when there’s so many people coming through, and there’s such a backlog and people are having to stay in the emergency room a little longer than they’d like--it’s exhausting. And then you go a few floors up in the hospital and you talk to the hospitalist, you talk to the intensivist, you talk to the specialist, and they’re exhausted because they’re taking care of really complex COVID patients on top of what we’re normally talking about. You go to the outpatient world, you go to the primary care physicians that on top of seeing the diabetes, and the high blood pressure, now they’re seeing the long COVID patients and the COVID recovery clinics getting more and more and more full. Then be like me in a nursing home and you’re just trying to put a bubble around your patients, you’re trying to protect them the best you can, and it’s exhausting. We don’t want to see any more harm.

“I don’t care if you’re vaccinated, you’re unvaccinated, what’s coming in front of you, we took an oath, and we’re going to take care of you. But it gets exhausting over a time period as group of physicians and nurses to know that there is a way to prevent this. That’s the hard part, I think.”


“We call it waves of COVID-19 now. We see the spikes on the graph and all that. Omicron is not a wave. Omicron is a tsunami. As we start to see how fast it replicates, South Africa, what we’re seeing in the UK, what we’re seeing in New York, it’s a level of replication that we could not have imagined. You remember almost two years back I said this virus replicated like we’ve never seen before. Now multiply that by factors of 70. That’s what we’re starting to see in certain studies. So it’s very scary. We’re not raising an alarm bell just to create a panic. We’re not trying to do something unrealistic. We’re not saying lock it down. This is going to spread so fast and so powerful, we only have one defense right now and that’s to get as many people vaccinated as we can. If you’re eligible for a booster, if you’re 16 or older and you’re six months out from your shots, get boosted. That’s the only we’re going to be able to protect given the level of spread.”

“A year later, all we’re begging you to do on the behalf of all of health care, and I really mean begging, is get vaccinated if you’re not vaccinated and get boosted if you’re not boosted yet.”

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