Tony Evers says he would take a coronavirus vaccine and blames Trump for sowing distrust in the process

MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers said he would take a coronavirus vaccine as soon as it’s available and blamed public distrust in the production of a vaccine on President Donald Trump’s promises to deliver one around the November election.

“I would take it but I’ll tell you if I had to prioritize people to get the vaccine I wouldn’t be one of them. I would focus on the frontline workers,” Evers said at a Milwaukee Press Club event Wednesday. “To have me be first, there are a whole bunch of other people who should have it first.”

Evers said Trump’s campaign trail predictions that a vaccine could arrive before election day are making people distrust a process the governor said is legitimate. 

“When you have a national leader who has vacillated up and down on whether there is such a thing as a pandemic and there isn’t, and it’s a hoax and it’s not, and now we’re making promises about election day … it politicizes it in a way that it shows up now in the polls,” Evers said.

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A Marquette University Law School poll released Wednesday shows 35% of Wisconsin voters said they definitely will get a vaccine when it’s released. Twenty-nine percent said probably yes while 33% said they probably or definitely would not get a vaccine. 

On Monday, Trump said a vaccine could be ready before the November election. 

“We’re going to have a vaccine very soon, maybe even before a very special date. You know what date I’m talking about,” he told reporters at the White House. 

Evers said he has faith in the scientists developing the vaccine and claimed Trump was reporting information he doesn’t have.

“He doesn’t know any more than I do, frankly, and I just wouldn’t make those statements,” Evers said. 

Evers also told reporters Wednesday the state Department of Health Services in July backed off a plan to post names of businesses, workplaces and schools where coronavirus outbreaks have occurred because his administration believes “it’s information that’s not public.”

The agency shelved plans to post names of businesses and other places connected to at least two cases of the coronavirus after business lobbying groups and Republican lawmakers pushed back against the idea.     

Evers said by not posting the information for the public, businesses are protected and DHS can better monitor outbreaks. He also said notifying the public of where outbreaks have occurred could pose privacy issues for workers and students. 

But some counties in Wisconsin and other states have posted such information.

Kirsten Johnson, health officer of Washington Ozaukee public health department, said earlier this year officials there made the decision to post such information because “people have a right to know where outbreaks are concentrated in order to protect themselves and their loved ones from exposure to the virus.”

Contact Molly Beck at molly.beck@jrn.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MollyBeck.