As national protests for racial justice, among other issues, dominate the news, we issue this important public service announcement: COVID-19 has not gone away.
The coronavirus continues to ravage our communities.
Here’s an update on what you and your loved ones need to know to stay safe, healthy and informed.
Recent updates on the statistics of cases
You can find more information on the county’s COVID-19 statistics here.
What is the timeline for reopening?
Milwaukee enters Phase 4 of its COVID-19 orders Wednesday, July 1, health leaders announced last week.
The phase will last a minimum of 14 days, which is the incubation period of COVID-19.
What it means?
In Phase 4, most businesses and activities can continue but on a larger scale so long as they adhere to physical distancing, protective measure requirements and safe business practices.
Beaches: All individuals and pets shall comply with physical distancing and protective measure requirements. Team and contact sports on public beaches remain prohibited.
Child care settings, including youth programs: 75% capacity
Faith-based gatherings: Must be the lesser of the three: 1) 50% of the total occupancy of the location, 2) one person for every 30 square feet or 3) 250 people.
Garage sales, rummage and yard sales: Must be the lesser of the three: 1) 50% of the total occupancy of the location, 2) one person for every 30 square feet or 3) 250 people.
Gatherings in homes or public venues: Must be the lesser of the three: 1) 50% of the total occupancy of the location, 2) one person for every 30 square feet or 3) 250 people.
Gyms and athletic centers: Must be the lesser of the three: 1) 50% of the total occupancy of the location, 2) one person for every 30 square feet or 3) 250 people.
Hotels/motels: 50% capacity; pools, hot tubs and exercise facilities are limited to the lesser of: 1) 50% of the total occupancy of the location, 2) one person for every 30 square feet or 3) 250 people.
Libraries: Must be the lesser of the three: 1) 50% of the total occupancy of the location, 2) one person for every 30 square feet or 3) 250 people.
Places of amusement: Must be the lesser of the three: 1) 50% of the total occupancy of the location, 2) one person for every 30 square feet or 3) 250 people.
Retail establishments: 50% capacity
Restaurants/bars: 50% capacity *ability to operate without a capacity limit with a COVID19 Safety Plan approved by the health department.
Salons/spas: 1 client per service provider
Stores: 75% capacity
Youth summer programs: 75% capacity
Can I gather with others?
Technically, yes. But certain safety measures still apply. According to the Milwaukee Health Department, faith-based gatherings, garage and yard sales, gyms and athletic centers are all allowed as long as less than 25% of the space is occupied; there is only one person every 30 square feet; or there are no more than 250 people in a space.
Gatherings in homes and in public venues have the same requirements. Visitors must comply with physical distancing and protective measures while enjoying the outdoors at beaches and parks.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines advise: “The more people an individual interacts with at a gathering and the longer that interaction lasts, the higher the potential risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 and the virus spreading.”
What about masks?
In most spaces, the use of a mask or cloth face covering is required. In others, it is strongly recommended.
Milwaukee County issued an administrative order earlier this month that requires any employees, volunteers or visitors (with some exemptions) entering Milwaukee County buildings or outdoor spaces with controlled entry points to wear masks. In spaces where a face mask is required, the county will provide disposable ones to the public.
While masks are not required on Milwaukee County Transit System buses, riders are strongly encouraged to use them while on board. MCTS continues to limit passengers to 10 per bus, and fare collection and front door boarding have resumed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on the importance of wearing a mask or face covering.
Where can I get tested?
Those with symptoms, essential workers and individuals who have recently been in larger crowds that may have made them more at risk for COVID-19 are encouraged to get tested.
This interactive map from the Milwaukee County/State of Wisconsin Expanded Community Testing Initiative displays the location and contact information of 21 COVID-19 testing sites.
Two community test sites opened on June 1. The North Side site is located at the Custer Stadium by Barack Obama High School, 4300 W. Fairmount Ave., and the South Side site is located at UMOS, 2710 S. Chase Ave.
In addition, CVS Health has opened four new test sites in Milwaukee as it expands its coronavirus testing program.
The services will be offered to both insured and uninsured patients, with no out-of-pocket costs.
If you are wondering what it is like to get tested, educator and activist Kika Meraz shared her experiences getting tested for COVID-19 on Milwaukee’s South Side in this Community Voices piece.
More COVID-19 resources
1. IMPACT 2-1-1
You can call 2-1-1 to get connected to more information and resources related to COVID-19 in Milwaukee. IMPACT 2-1-1 is the area’s central access point for people in need. Users can get free and confidential services by calling the 2-1-1 helpline, texting their ZIP code to TXT-211, chatting online in real time with specialists or by searching a database on their own.
2. Protesting during the pandemic
Dr. Bryan Johnston offers his advice on how to stay safe if you decide to march during the pandemic in this Community Voices piece.
3. We Care Crew
The We Care Crew is a collaboration of county departments and local organizations dedicated to connecting individuals in neighborhoods hit hardest by COVID-19 with information and health education. The group will be distributing and resources such as masks and meals at temporary sites in Milwaukee County Parks. You can find participating park sites here.
4. News414 news texting service
Looking for more personalized direction to resources and information during the coronavirus crisis? Get connected with News414, a texting-based news resource from Milwaukee NNS, Wisconsin Watch and Outlier Media. You can text MILWAUKEE to 73224 and begin to receive free, personalized data via text messages.