Graham Kilmer

Milwaukee Officials Ask Public to Stay Home, As Much as Possible

As cases of COVID-19 grow in Milwaukee County and the state, preventive measures now will save lives in the future.

By - Mar 16th, 2020 09:42 pm
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Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by The original uploader was Sulfur at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by The original uploader was Sulfur at English Wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

Stay home. Isolate yourself as much as possible. This is what Milwaukee area officials are saying.

Milwaukee County leaders and health officials held a press conference Monday night to announce an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) being managed by Raisa Koltun, chief of staff to County Executive Chris Abele, and call for increasingly aggressive measures from Milwaukeeans.

Both Abele and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett were clear: Stay home. Work from home if you can. Limit all travel to essential travel. Efforts taken now to reduce the spread of the virus will be measured later in the number of lives saved or lost.

Even under the best-case scenarios for containment of the virus, it is likely that hundreds of thousands or more than a million Wisconsin residents will be infected by the virus, Abele said.

The latest tally of confirmed cases shows there are 13 in Milwaukee County, and approximately 180 cases are being investigated. A new study of data concerning COVID-19 infection rates from China indicates that for every diagnosed case there could be as many as 10 undiagnosed cases in a population.

Abele and Barrett were supported by the lead health officials of their respective governments. Jeanette Kowalik, Milwaukee Health Commissioner, and Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for Milwaukee County.

Kowalik said the latest information indicates community transmission of the virus is occurring in Milwaukee. Officials are unable to track some new cases back to an already documented case.

The latest order from the State of Wisconsin limits gatherings to 50 people or less. But the guidelines from the federal government, issued while the state was in the process of briefing the media, are that gatherings should be limited to 10 people or less.

“Stay home. Be isolated. That’s what the message is,” Barrett said.

The new EOC will coordinate response and information gathering among all the governments, first responders and healthcare providers in the county. The collaboration should create a uniform set of information throughout the county so resources can be marshaled where they are needed most.

Right now the county’s Office of Emergency Management is developing a map, that will be available on the county website, documenting the general location of cases.

“This is by far, far and away, the single biggest challenge this community and arguably the state has faced in probably half a century,” Abele said. Barrett agreed and said it was likely the greatest challenge facing the world since World War 2.

The Milwaukee County Transit System has asked that riders limit the use of public transportation to only essential bus rides. It has also implemented an extra daily disinfection process on all buses.

Milwaukee County residents should practice social distancing, avoid unnecessary travel and work from home if possible. “The degree to which we are disciplined in following this advice is the number of lives lost or lives saved,” Abele said.

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