Graham Kilmer

City May Reimpose COVID-19 Restrictions

With cases rising, worried health department officials reevaluating current health order.

By - Mar 30th, 2021 03:58 pm
Bars and restaurants in Westown. Photo by Carl Baehr.

Bars and restaurants in Westown. Photo by Carl Baehr.

Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson said Tuesday the city will reimpose restrictions on business capacity and public gatherings if the current rise in cases of COVID-19 continues.

The city relaxed a number of restrictions less than two weeks earlier after a number of criteria used to evaluate the level and threat of COVID-19 in the community had trended in a positive direction for weeks.

Clear warning signs that the Milwaukee area was potentially heading for a spike in cases appeared last week when the data showed a rise in daily new cases, transmission and the percentage of tests coming back positive for COVID-19.

“Unless there are changes, the health department will be issuing a new order in the coming weeks reimposing restrictions that were eased just a week and a half ago,” Johnson said. If nothing changes, there will be a new order within the next two weeks, she said.

New variants of COVID-19 that spread more easily could be a contributing factor in the rising level of disease in Milwaukee, she said.

“As our case numbers continue to increase we’ll see more people face serious medical consequences and sadly more COVID deaths in Milwaukee,” she said.

When the city issued its new order on March 18th, it skipped over what would have been an interim level of restrictions between what was in place then and what is currently allowed. It would likely be this interim order that the city reverts to.

This interim order, designated for “substantial transmission” of COVID-19 in the community, would likely lead to reductions in capacity for businesses and gatherings across the board, according to the city’s gating criteria. Businesses with safety plans approved by the city would continue to follow them

Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for Milwaukee County, said the county has seen new daily cases increase by more than 45% in a single week. Both the percentage of tests that come back positive and the number of people accessing testing are on the rise — following the pattern witnessed during previous spikes.

The upswing in cases in Milwaukee is also mirrored by the rising number of daily new cases at the state level.

The only way the city will avoid reimposing restrictions is if the current trend reverses and cases decline.

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