Here’s the latest update on COVID-19 in Milwaukee and the resources you need to combat it.
What to know with Milwaukee’s updated health order
The City of Milwaukee is now in Phase 4.1 of its COVID-19 safety plan. This update includes the mask mandate and brings changes to the restrictions schools, businesses, bars and restaurants must follow.
Phase 4 allowed establishments to stay open so long as owners and patrons maintained safe practices, which included implementing social distancing and providing protective measures.
Now, in Phase 4.1, restaurants and bars will be required to submit a safety plan and Risk Assessment Tool to the Health Department if they want to continue serving patrons indoors without capacity limits. All plans will be reviewed, and if approved, the business will be notified if it can operate.
Plans must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 15., and it may take several days for approval. Documents should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “COVID SAFETY PLAN: [insert name and address].”
The Milwaukee Health Department will host a virtual workshop for restaurant and bar owners wanting assistance in writing their COVID-19 safety plans at 2 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6. For Spanish-speaking establishment owners, the department will host a workshop in Spanish at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4.
What does this mean for schools?
Phase 4.1 allows schools to open at a 50 percent capacity rate with a safety plan that is approved by the Health Department. A checklist for plans, which must follow state and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, will be available here by the end of the week.
Milwaukee Public Schools have already announced it will begin the school year virtually, with the school board voting last month on a reopening plan.
A new face mask mandate
Although Milwaukee’s mask ordinance has been in full swing since mid-July, Gov. Tony Evers’ issued an emergency order Thursday that requires individuals across the state to wear face coverings when indoors in an enclosed space that is not a private residence.
The order became effective at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1 and expires Sept. 28.
A statewide mask order is a fundamental step in lowering COVID-19 transmission, Dr. Ben Weston of the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management told reporters Thursday. “This is a landmark moment in the history of the state’s fight against COVID-19,” he said.
A reminder about City of Milwaukee’s mask mandate
Unlike the statewide mandate, the MKE Cares ordinance requires masks be worn by everyone 3 and older inside public places and outside within 6 feet of non-family/household members.
The city mandate, which went into effect July 16, relies on “self-enforcement.” The Milwaukee Health Department and businesses are responsible for enforcing the ordinance, rather than the Milwaukee Police Department or other local law enforcement agencies.
What about Milwaukee County?
Milwaukee County issued an administrative order in June 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. In addition, as of Aug. 1, the Milwaukee County Transit System, or MCTS, requires masks or face coverings be worn on buses. In cases where passengers do not have a face covering, buses will provide a mask as supplies allow.
Where to get free masks
To obtain a free mask, residents can visit these sites:
- The Keenan Health Clinic, 3200 N. 36th St., is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- The Northwest Health Center, 7630 W. Mill Rd., is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
- The Southside Health Center, 1639 S. 23rd St., is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
NNS reporters also gathered a list of where to buy locally made masks if you’re looking to show some local business love when masking up.
Check the City of Milwaukee Health Department’s website for the most updated facts and answers to questions about the mask ordinance.
Looking ahead: COVID-19 and flu season
Among the unanswered questions COVID-19 brings to this fall and winter, one thing is for sure: The virus won’t stop for flu season.
Though influenza is not as contagious or deadly as COVID-19, the two colliding could make for a dangerous flu season, Weston said last week.
That’s why it will be more important than ever to get a flu vaccine in September or October, he said.
Officials are working to increase access to flu vaccines in Milwaukee County, Weston said, and more information will be available in the weeks to come.
Resources to know
Look here for up-to-date statistics on COVID-19 in the county. More precautions on how to stay safe and information on COVID-19 can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.
Contact your health provider, call IMPACT 2-1-1 or take a look at the county’s testing site map to find a testing center near you. The free community testing sites are at UMOS, 2701 S. Chase Ave., and Custer Stadium by Barack Obama School, 4300 W. Fairmount Ave.
Check out our continuing coronavirus coverage.
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