The Wisconsin Credit Union League is sharing a letter they sent requesting that Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccination distribution include essential frontline workers at financial institutions. Interviews are available by request through The Creative Company.
Wisconsin Department of Health Services
1 W Wilson St, Madison, WI 53703
Vaccine Subcommittee: Priority Group 1b
Dear Wisconsin State Disaster Medical Advisory – Vaccine Distribution Subcommittee:
The Wisconsin Bankers Association and Wisconsin Credit Union League respectfully request that frontline essential workers at financial institutions be included in Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccination distribution. Frontline workers at financial institutions include positions such as teller, customer service representative, personal banker and others who interact on a regular basis with the public as a required portion of their employment.
In March of last year when the Governor and Department of Health Services issued a Safer at Home order, Wisconsin’s financial institutions were identified as “essential.” This is consistent with a Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) list issued by Homeland Security earlier this year and guidance on critical infrastructure worker designations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in November.
Banks and credit unions have worked tirelessly to continue service while prioritizing the safety of their staff, customers, and members. Now, as distribution of the vaccine continues, we ask that you recognize the value of protecting these dedicated front-line workers. While some institutions have closed their branches during most of this time, many others have remained open particularly those institutions in rural areas. Many institutions don’t have the drive-through capacity to handle accommodating customer transactions in this manner. As a result, branches have remained open to handle customer needs in-person.
In addition, financial institutions have been struggling to manage staffing levels when one or more employees need to quarantine due to direct or indirect exposure. This has resulted in some financial institutions having to close branches and disrupt customer access due to insufficient staff available to keep the location open. While financial institutions have invested heavily in technology to facilitate the ability for customers to interact remotely, many customers (notably the elderly) still need to do business in person. These unexpected branch closures have negatively affected customers in several ways.
All financial institutions have put extensive measures in place to protect the safety of their employees and customers at our combined nearly 3,000 branch locations. Yet, protecting frontline financial institution employees by including them in Vaccine Priority Group Phase 1B will help meaningfully remedy the potential for further spread of the virus while allowing customers unrestricted access to their banking needs.
Moreover, as critical support for consumers facing financial challenges because of COVID-19 or the economic impact of the pandemic, banks and credit unions should be considered vital services, and their frontline employees should receive priority access.
On behalf of Wisconsin’s banks and credit unions, we thank you for your leadership in ensuring financial institutions can continue to provide necessary financial support for Wisconsinites. We appreciate your consideration as we all work together to stop the spread of COVID-19 and return to a safe, stable, and thriving Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Credit Union League
| Rose Oswald Poels
Wisconsin Bankers Association