Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association
Press Release

Milwaukee Health Department excusing inaction with insufficient data, right-wing talking points

MTEA renews call for citywide indoor mask requirement, other increased protections

By - Sep 16th, 2021 03:04 pm

MILWAUKEE – Last week, leaders with the Milwaukee Health Department presented data to the Milwaukee Common Council‘s Public Safety & Health Committee. Emphasized in MHD’s presentation was that the most likely source of infection was a “private home” – one’s own home or the private home of another individual.

To come to this conclusion, MHD ignored that their data showed nearly 90% of cases have sources that are “unknown” or “undetermined.” Instead they focused on these “private home” infections which account for only 6.6% of cases in the City of Milwaukee. A cursory look into the data which they based their conclusions on attributed only five cases to schools, colleges, and universities. MHD presented obviously incomplete numbers for schools just one day after Morse Middle School closed, after three percent of the school population tested positive.

The faulty claim that “private home” infections are the most common may sound familiar – the same claim was made in a misleading letter sent to MHD by the Metropolitian Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), the conservative business group who was exposed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel late last year as directing MHD COVID-19 policy.

Why is MHD repeating false right-wing talking points and inflating the value of incomplete data?

Why is MHD not doing more to improve their contact tracing rates so that nearly 90% of cases aren’t from “unknown” and “undetermined” sources?

Yesterday, Milwaukee reported the highest single day case count since January. For nearly two months, Milwaukee has been firmly in the purple “Extreme Transmission” category, with today’s numbers marking the worst disease burden of this surge.

When asked about their failure to do more to stop the spread of COVID-19, MHD has consistently said their only focus is on vaccines. We commend MHD for working to increase vaccination numbers but MHD can and must employ multiple mitigation strategies at the same time to regain control of COVID-19 transmission.

MHD must do more to stop community spread of COVID-19 instead of using a lack of good data to justify doing nothing. Since early August when Milwaukee first entered the extreme transmisison category, MTEA has repeatedly called on MHD to reinstate a citywide indoor mask mandate, as well as to increase layers of protection in all Milwaukee schools, such as contact tracing, testing and isolation as the CDC recommends local health authorities do during periods of high transmission. We are repeating that call today.

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