Wisconsin is in the ninth month of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a very difficult nine months for first responders, frontline workers, and their families. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that five COVID vaccines are in large-scale clinical trials or are being planned. Wisconsin will be receiving vaccines as soon as they have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Like many of you, I am eagerly awaiting its distribution and release. Each state has prepared plans in cooperation with federal partners, local health departments, and providers to be ready. Healthcare workers will be at the front of the line for vaccinations.

Serving as your state representative, and soon-to-be state senator, listening and taking your input has always been my utmost priority. I have been hearing from constituents on all sides of this issue. At the beginning of the pandemic, I cancelled my in-person listening sessions and switched to virtual sessions on Facebook Live. Regardless of the situation, I want to be open and transparent, and ensure that you are heard.

I’ll be honest with you, tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in Wisconsin requires a unified effort on all levels – from the Capitol in Madison, to your community, to your own home. That being said, there is not a magic wand or “one-size-fits-all” solution. I have supported local and regional approaches, such as we’ve seen with each of our school districts. I have always been supportive of best practices and encourage you to follow CDC guidelines: my family and I all practice them to keep each other, co- workers, and ourselves safe.

While the legislature hasn’t formally met in a full session since we passed the COVID-19 Relief Bill, I have been working to continue measures that have gone through the emergency rule process to add flexibility and protections for all Wisconsinites. As Co-Chair of the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR), I have been busy working with state agencies to do everything from extending regulatory flexibility to allowing the use of federal CARES Act funding for unemployment insurance. These emergency rules were implemented as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic through the legal process agencies may take to react quickly to emergencies.

As I said earlier, we need to work together at all levels in order to fight the spread of COVID-19. If you are interested in learning about precautions you can take to prevent COVID-19, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html to learn more.

Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) currently represents Wisconsin Assembly District 41. She was elected on November 3 to represent Wisconsin Senate District 14.