Urban Milwaukee

COVID-19 Coverage Recap

Articles you might have missed over the past week.

By - Apr 5th, 2020 02:44 pm
A scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 viruses (in orange) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, is the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus shown was isolated from a patient in the U.S. Image from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/Rocky Mountain Laboratories (CC BY 2.0).

A scanning electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 viruses (in orange) emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. SARS-CoV-2, also known as 2019-nCoV, is the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus shown was isolated from a patient in the U.S. Image from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/Rocky Mountain Laboratories (CC BY 2.0).

We get it. From a news perspective, it’s hard to keep up with the COVID-19 pandemic. New data is released daily and officials at all levels of government are reacting and responding to the public health crisis. Between press conferences and press releases, it’s a constant stream of news.

Here are some articles from the past week that you might have overlooked.

Resist Spring Fever

Despite the fact that the weather outside will improve in the coming days, Milwaukee officials would like you to continue to stay home whenever possible.

“Typically you think of Milwaukee County Parks as a department of fun, and normally we are,” said director Guy Smith.

For now, basketball courts and soccer fields are closed, no futsal games can be played, no one should use picnic tables and fitness equipment is off limits.

“Hiking, walking, running and birding, those are allowed,” said Smith. Biking is also allowed under the state’s “safer at home” order.

Read more

State Reports Labs Could Process Twice as Many Tests

The state reported 2,242 people were tested for COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, besting the previous high of 2,239 on March 28th. And state officials think they could be doing twice as much if needed.

“Our laboratory capacity does not seem to be a rate-limiting step,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases, during a media briefing. He said testing would continue to be available for those that satisfy the criteria laid out in state testing guidelines, including those requiring hospitalization and healthcare workers.

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DHS Reports Hospitalization Rate for First Time Wednesday

For the first time DHS also reported the hospitalization rate. At 26 percent, it’s in line with an estimate from DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm on Monday that 20 to 25 percent of confirmed cases require hospitalization.

There are far more unconfirmed cases of COVID-19. And those with mild symptoms are not able to get tested because of the limited availability of testing supplies. Governor Tony Evers announced a public-private partnership to increase testing capacity Monday, but even with that state officials said they don’t expect everyone to be able to be tested.

“Testing will still require a doctor’s order and these partners are not a testing site themselves,” said Palm.

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State Fair Park Selected for Overflow Care Facility

Local leaders have selected the Wisconsin State Fair Park Exposition Center as the first location where an alternative care facility will be built out. The move is intended to provide extra hospital bed capacity to deal with an expected surge in COVID-19 cases.

The Wisconsin Center and the State Fair Park locations were studied earlier this week as potential facilities for additional healthcare capacity. But the Wisconsin District Center will only be used in the event that the surge is greater than predicted and the state fair park facility fills up.

Dr. Ben Weston told the press during a briefing Thursday that the State Fair Park facility is “an optimal location for this space considering the ease of access, abundant parking, central location to a variety of resources.”

John Yingling, chair of the State Fair Park Board of Directors, said the park and its staff are ready to serve if needed. “And we are looking to make sure that we are operational as quickly as possible to provide services that we hope are never needed,” he said.

The City of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County are calling upon the state to request assistance from the Army Corps of Engineers to build out additional bed capacity at the exposition center. Local leaders say this is a proactive move. They want the facility ready if it’s needed, but all hope it is not.

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Super 8 Hotel Near Airport Becoming State Isolation Facility

A hotel near Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport will be home to one of two voluntary isolation facilities announced Tuesday by Governor Tony Evers.

The Super 8 hotel at 5253 S. Howell Ave. will be converted to a 110-room isolation facility for those experiencing mild symptoms from COVID-19.

“These voluntary self-isolation sites help respond to the pandemic in two ways. First, they will provide a valuable resource for those who have mild symptoms of COVID-19, leaving valuable hospital space available for others who need it, and they also provide a safe place for people to stay so they don’t spread COVID-19 to others,” said Evers in a statement.

Food and linens will be provided, but not medical services. The state will check on patients every four hours via phone during the day. Those needing more care will be referred to a hospital. Security will be provided by the Wisconsin National Guard and private contractors.

The facility opened on a referral basis Wednesday. Read more.

Wisconsin Has Twice as Many Ventilators as Previously Thought

[During a press briefing, DHS Secretary-designe Andrea Palm] said hospitals, clinics and labs are doing a better and better job of inventorying their equipment in a shared fashion. DHS previously reported 620 ventilators in the state. “I can tell you the system is telling me now that we have 1,215 ventilators,” said Palm.

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Archdiocese to House Homeless During Crisis

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is temporarily opening an apartment building formerly used to house nuns as a facility to house up to 90 homeless Milwaukee area residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The building has been empty since January in anticipation of future demolition, part of a bigger project by the School Sisters of St. Francis Assisi to develop new housing on the campus.

“This takes a lot of the burden off our shelters and does so in a way that is very responsible,” said Mayor Tom Barrett in announcing the deal on a Sunday afternoon conference call.

Read more

Daily Totals

Want more? You can see all of our coronavirus coverage on our COVID-19 tracker.

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