Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include Milwaukee’s implementation of a new order starting Thursday.
Here’s the latest update on COVID-19 in Milwaukee and the resources you need to combat it.
New order goes into effect Thursday
The city of Milwaukee has issued a new order to go into effect Thursday, Oct. 29 aimed at controlling the spread of COVID-19.
The order limits public indoor gatherings to 10 people or fewer, not including employees. Public outdoor gatherings also are limited to 25 people or fewer, and religious and political gatherings are limited to 100 people at a time.
Bars and restaurants without a city-approved COVID safety plan will also be limited to 25% capacity. All patrons will have to be seated unless they are arriving, departing or using the restroom. Dance floors will also be closed for the duration of the order.
School sports will also be limited to intra-squad or intra-school unless a safety plan is approved by the health department. Any approved safety plan would require testing every three days. Schools will also be monitored for COVID safety and can continue with online instruction.
Grocery store capacity will also be limited to one person per 30 square feet of open floor space.
Mayor Tom Barrett announced last week during a media briefing that the city will begin issuing citations to bars and restaurants in Milwaukee that do not comply with the city’s health ordinances.
Barrett said the city had been taking an education-based approach, but “now that we’re seven months into this, we think people are either with the program or they’re not with the program,” Barrett said. “So the educational period is essentially over.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Tony Evers’ 25% capacity limit for restaurant and bars remains in limbo after an appeals court suspended it again Friday.
New free testing site opening in South Milwaukee
A free testing site is opening this week at 1625 10th Ave. in South Milwaukee, according to South Milwaukee Public Health Administrator Jackie Ove.
The new site will operate from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday. The site offers drive-through testing for anyone in Milwaukee County. It is located at the previous Bucyrus Erie site in the city of South Milwaukee.
Ove said anyone who plans to visit the site should pre-register at Wisconsin Health Connect. Testing is free.
Hospitalizations up in Milwaukee County
Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Department of Emergency Management, said there were more people hospitalized with COVID-19 last week than at any other point during the pandemic.
Greenfield Health Commissioner Darren Rausch said there has been a spike in hospitalizations among the 80+ population. The disease, however, continues to affect every demographic, as another wave of COVID-19 has brought the highest seven-day averages for cases in both the city and suburbs at any point in the pandemic.
This is the third time the county has seen surges in COVID-19. The first was in April, the second in July and now a third spike in October.
Rausch said the city is currently averaging about 275 new cases a day. He said there has been an increase in positive cases across all age groups.
Interim health commissioner Marlaina Jackson noted last week that the city has seen a 10% positivity rate for COVID-19 tests. Jackson called the figure a “red flag,” saying that it indicates that the spread of the virus is not as controlled as health officials would like.
City alters mask distribution plan to fit demand
Last week, the Milwaukee Health Department announced changes to its mask distribution plan based on demand at sites. The city has distributed 110,000 masks so far and plans to move masks into convenience stores, churches and shelters over the coming weeks.
To find out more, read this story from NNS.
State passes record death total for single day
On Oct. 21, the state reported its highest single-day death total from COVID-19. Forty-eight people died across Wisconsin.
Those 70 and older account for the most death totals.
The first patient was also admitted to the State Fair Park field hospital.
How you can help friends and loved ones who test positive
Where to get free masks
To obtain a free mask, residents can visit these sites:
- 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.
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 at the Northwest Health Center, 7630 W. Mill Rd., and Southside Health Center, 1639 S. 23rd St., are now open and operating. Miller Park is now a testing site effective Oct. 19.
For more information on testing, including how to identify symptoms and when you should get tested, visit TestUpMKE.com. Available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Burmese and Arabic.
Check out our continuing coronavirus coverage.
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.
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