Here’s the latest update on COVID-19 in Milwaukee and the resources you need to combat it.
Highly contagious strain found in Wisconsin
A recently discovered strain of COVID-19 made its way to Wisconsin last week.
The strain, known as B.1.1.7, was first reported in England in November. Health officials in Eau Claire County said last week that a patient with the strain had recently traveled abroad.
Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, said leaders are trying to determine whether the strain has reached Milwaukee County.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that B.1.1.7 could be the dominant strain of coronavirus in the U.S. as early as March.
The strain is not deadlier than the novel coronavirus but is more contagious. Officials indicated that social distancing and masking will be even more important with the new strain, which is easier to catch.
New ‘COVID-19 connector tool’ launches to help people get vaccinated
Here’s a new website you should know about.
HealthyMKE.com combines information about the vaccine, such as frequently asked questions and a breakdown of the distribution phases, with a service that is meant to help people find the best place to get the shot.
The Milwaukee Unified Emergency Operations Center launched the website last week. ring it, provides updates on vaccine phases and has other useful information about COVID-19.
Aziz Abdullah, co-founder of IMPOWER, a North Side sales and marketing company that helped create the website, said HealthyMKE.com was designed to be user-friendly and inclusive. The website is available in five languages: Arabian, Hmong, Burmese, Spanish and English.
“One of the priorities that we really wanted to reinforce is the importance that we work in a space where we don’t duplicate efforts, where there’s not an ‘infodemic,’ where people have to go to five different places to be able to sort through information,” Abdullah said.
In case you missed it: Want more information about vaccines? Check out our explainer by clicking here.
Kirsten Johnson nominated as new health commissioner
After a months-long search, the city announced its nominee for health commissioner last week.
Kirsten Johnson, the director and health officer of the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department, was nominated by Mayor Tom Barrett to replace Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik, who left the department in September.
The health commissioner’s role is currently being filled by Interim Health Commissioner Marlaina Jackson. The commissioner is responsible for public health assessment and policy development and plays a crucial role in the city’s fight against COVID-19.
Johnson’s nomination heads to the Common Council for approval. Jackson will continue in her role until a decision is made. Barrett said this could take four to five weeks.
Free masks distributed on Jan. 18
Northwest Side Community Development Corporation is handing out free masks from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 18 in honor of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The masks will be distributed by drive-thru only at 4201 N. 27th St., in the front parking lot. A limited number of masks will be available.
Health Department eases restrictions on bars and restaurants
Some limitations on Milwaukee bars and restaurants expired last week, as the Milwaukee Health Department reverted to Phase 4.2 of its coronavirus guidelines.
Bars and restaurants will be able to operate at the full capacity stated in their approved safety plan. Establishments without approved plans will be limited to 25% capacity.
Under the last order, Phase 4.3, all restaurants, including those with approved safety plans, were limited to 50% capacity as a result of the COVID-19 surge in November. The new guidelines went into effect at the end of last week.
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.
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.
For more information on vaccine distribution and where to find it, visit HealthyMKE.com. Available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Burmese and Arabic.
Check out our continuing coronavirus coverage.
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