Graham Kilmer

City Hires Private Firm To Track COVID-19 Violations

Company responds on nights, weekends to complaints of businesses violating city orders.

By - Mar 3rd, 2021 12:09 pm
VIP Lounge, 828 S. 1st St., has been cited multiple times for violating the city's COVID-19 health order. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

VIP Lounge, 828 S. 1st St., has been cited multiple times for violating the city’s COVID-19 health order. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The City of Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) has contracted with a private company to help it issue citations to businesses violating local health orders.

The company, Elite Process Service, LLC, will help the health department address issues at night and on weekends when it receives complaints, said Marlaina Jackson, interim health director for MHD.

The department stopped sending inspectors to businesses at night after a confrontation at American Serb Hall and an ongoing problem with threats made to health department employees.

This contractor will serve as “additional workforce,” Jackson said, that will supplement the health department staff who are receiving complaints and doing spot checks. Health department staff will be the responsible officials for ultimately issuing any citations.

In February, the health department reported receiving more than 1,500 complaints and investigating 1,230 of them. 

Part of maintaining the COVID-19 mitigation strategies mandated in the local health is enforcement. Jackson said the new support will help the department respond “quickly and efficiently” to complaints.

Even before the contractor was brought onboard, the volume of complaints issued was going up. In February, Urban Milwaukee reported that MHD had issued 38 citations for violations of the local health order and that 11 additional citations were pending as of Monday, February 15th.

In November the Common Council voted to increase the penalty for violating the local health order to $5,000, up from $500. One business, VIP Lounge at 828 S. 1st St. received two $5,000 citations for violations on New Years Eve and again in January. That was on top of two previous violations, at $500 each, it had received before the new rule went into effect.

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Categories: Health, Weekly

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