Here’s the latest update on COVID-19 in Milwaukee and the resources you need to combat it.
Vaccine wins FDA approval
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved emergency use authorization for the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, clearing the path for more than 6.4 million doses to be shipped across the country.
Emergency use authorization is an FDA process reserved for public health emergencies that allows unapproved medical products to be fast-tracked for distribution.
Wisconsin is expected to receive just under 50,000 vaccines early this week. The vaccine will be distributed with priority given to frontline health care workers and the elderly, especially those living in nursing homes and assisted care facilities.
The move comes as the vaccines have already rolled out in Britain and Bahrain.
Testing down locally and across the state
Health officials are urging people to get tested.
Wisconsin has seen a decrease in testing numbers since the Thanksgiving holiday.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported just over 24,000 coronavirus tests on Dec. 10, despite having capacity for nearly 60,000. Single-day tests peaked less than a month ago, when 48,580 people were tested on Nov. 19.
Mayor Tom Barrett said Miller Park, the city’s largest COVID-19 testing site, saw a significant dip in testing on Dec. 9.
“We had 1,248 people tested at Miller Park, which is basically half of what we had seen in the last three or four weeks,” Barrett said. “We were sometimes running close to 2,500 a day.”
Barrett said that the Miller Park testing site had the capacity to continue testing at higher rates, and he urged the importance of testing ahead of the December holidays.
Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, said people should get tested if they have symptoms or have been around people with symptoms or diagnosed with COVID-19. Symptoms include fever or chills, coughing, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue and a new loss of taste or smell.
New facility to open for county employees
Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley announced last week that the county will establish a special testing site at Mitchell Park Pavilion for county employees.
Mitchell Park Pavilion, 524 S Layton Blvd., will serve essential workers for the county to provide faster turnaround times and results. Essential workers include mental health service workers, bus drivers, highway maintenance workers, snowplow operators, 911 operators and sheriff’s deputies.
The facility opened on Dec. 8 and serves county employees who have COVID-19 symptoms and have been exposed to COVID-19.
Deaths continue to climb across the U.S.
The United States reported 3,124 deaths on Dec. 9, according to data from Johns Hopkins COVID-19 dashboard. This figure marks the first time that the U.S. has reported over 3,000 deaths in a single day.
The United States reported approximately 3,300 deaths on the following day, Dec. 10. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that COVID-19’s death toll will exceed that of 9/11 within the next two to three months.
The United States also leads the world in total deaths with over 290,000. This significantly dwarfs the number of deaths from the 2018-2019 flu season, which caused 34,200 estimated deaths according to the CDC.
Wisconsin’s seven-day average for deaths remained around 50 last week. There have been 95 reported deaths in Milwaukee County over the last 14 days.
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 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
• The Southside Health Center, 1639 S. 23rd St., is open from 9 a.m. to 3 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, 1 Brewers Way, is also open as an effective testing site.
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.
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