David Bowen, Gwen Moore Talk COVID-19 From Quarantine
Two black political leaders share their story and why social distancing is key.
Two Wisconsin politicians are speaking up about the importance of social distancing, as COVID-19 erupts in their districts and across the country.
State Rep. David Bowen represents District 10, which includes some of the hardest hit areas of Milwaukee County for COVID-19. And he himself has tested positive for the disease. Bowen said he was exposed to the virus in a rather innocuous way, underscoring how easily transmitted it is.
“Really to think nothing of it,” he said. “You see a friend in a cafe, you sit down, you talk… it is a lot more dangerous than a lot of us think.”
Bowen said he thinks there are many in the community who aren’t taking the virus as seriously as they need to be. “If it is not essential for you to head out of the door, something that has nothing to do with groceries or essentials with medical needs, please make sure you are staying home.”
Staying home, health and government officials have repeatedly said, is the number one way that lives will be saved during this pandemic. It is the most reliable thing the public can do to lessen the burden on health care workers and first responders dealing with COVID-19, as infections rapidly escalate locally and around the country.
There are 343 cases in Milwaukee County, with 267 cases in the City of Milwaukee as of Thursday morning. And the positivity rate for COVID-19 tests is rising, according to Jeanette Kowalik, health commissioner for the City of Milwaukee. On top of that, the latest data from the State of Wisconsin suggests the spread of COVID-19 is accelerating.
U.S. Congresswoman Rep. Gwen Moore said, “I am really taking the stay at home message to heart.” She has self-quarantined after having been exposed to someone with the virus. Moore said she has lost count of the number of contacts she’s had with people who were later diagnosed with COVID-19.
She is a cancer survivor, which puts her at high risk for health complications from COVID-19. “I am doing very well on oral medication, chemo treatment. But what this means is I have a deficient immune system,” Moore noted.
Bowen and Moore both lamented the high rate of infection on Milwaukee’s North Side among the city’s African-American community. Bowen noted that while he is feeling better, the disease has already taken someone he knew. “My mentor Lenard Wells, who also contracted the virus, did not survive.”
Wells was a professor, former police officer for the City of Milwaukee and highly-regarded advocate for racial equity. He was 69, when he succumbed to health complications from COVID-19, the Journal Sentinel reported.
African-American men have the highest rate of infection in the city right now. Kowalik said the racial disparities in COVID-19 appear to mirror general racial health disparities that are the legacy of racism and segregation in cities like Milwaukee.
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