Here’s the latest update on COVID-19 in Milwaukee and the resources you need to combat it.
Moderna vaccine gets FDA approval
The Food and Drug Administration effectively doubled the amount of vaccines available last week, as Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine was approved for emergency use authorization.
An estimated 5.9 million doses of the vaccine will be distributed. The move comes after the FDA voted to approve Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on Dec. 11.
Emergency use authorization is an FDA process that allows previously unapproved drugs and treatments to be distributed during a public health emergency.
The Moderna vaccine offers new flexibility to public health officials, as it can be stored at regular freezer temperatures as opposed to the Pfizer vaccine, which must be kept in ultracold storage.
Wisconsin distributes first batch of vaccines
Wisconsin health officials said more than 1,000 frontline health workers were vaccinated last week.
Vaccines were sent to eight regional hubs across the state. But on Dec. 18, Gov. Tony Evers said Wisconsin will receive about 35,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, less than the 50,000 expected.
“This is unacceptable,” Evers said in a statement. “Wisconsin citizens deserve the vaccine the federal government promised. Our healthcare workers and long-term care residents need this vaccine that is ready and available.”
Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, said the general public can expect to receive vaccines by late spring to early summer.
Officials discourage holiday, religious gatherings
Interim Health Commissioner Marlaina Jackson discouraged in-person gatherings this holiday season, including religious celebrations and New Year’s Eve festivities.
Jackson asked faith leaders to reconsider holding in-person services and urged them to continue to follow Milwaukee Health Department guidelines. The current public health order requires that places of worship comply with social distancing and masking guidelines and have only 25% capacity.
Pardeep Kaleka, executive director, of Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, a multifaith organization in the city, urged people to practice utmost caution if they planned to gather in person.
“We look forward to a time where we can physically congregate with one another and have in-person physical gatherings,” Kaleka said. “We understand how difficult this year has already been. We are asking you to hold on to hope for 2021.”
Because the virus is spread through air droplets in contained spaces, gatherings of any size are discouraged.
“Whether it is your church gathering or your religious gathering, or whether it’s going out with your friends or whether it’s hanging out with your family, we continue to encourage that you should be staying home during this holiday season,” Jackson said.
Medical College of Wisconsin webinar on COVID-19 vaccine: Monday, Dec. 21
The Medical College of Wisconsin is hosting a webinar on the COVID-19 vaccine. The webinar is open to the public and will take place from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 21. There will be a briefing followed by a Q&A segment. Panelists include Dr. John Raymond, the president and CEO of the college; and Dr. Laura Cassidy, an epidemiologist at the college. To register, click here.
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.
HOLIDAY TESTING REMINDER: The Northwest and Southside centers will be closed Dec. 24-25, Dec 31 and Jan. 1. The Miller Park #Covid19 Testing Site will be closed Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, but open Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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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