Milwaukee Alderwoman Raises Concerns About COVID-19 Safety In City Buildings
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett may have issued a COVID-19 vaccination requirement for non-union city employees, but the mandate doesn’t ease everyone’s concerns, including those of Alderwoman Milele Coggs.
The city is heading into important budget deliberations, including how to allocate its American Rescue Plan dollars.
Coggs told the public works committee Thursday that the voice of residents is critical to these decisions. But more people congregating heightens the risk of more COVID-19 cases.
“We’re literally going to have to sit for hours in these rooms for days at a time. I just think it behooves us to know what else is being done besides masks and staff vaccinations to help to keep these spaces safe,” Coggs said.
City engineer Jerrel Kruschke told the committee both city hall and the Zeidler Municipal Building have upgraded air purification systems. Crews regularly stock public spaces with disinfectant hand sanitizer and free face masks at every entrance.
"The committee rooms are cleaned every day, so once this meeting is over with, we have staff come in and wipes down everything within this room. We have crews that come through and wipe down the high touch areas; door handles, elevator buttons on a daily basis," Kruschke added," Those are things we do right now; they're above and beyond we'd normally do pre-pandemic."
Alderwoman Coggs thinks more must be done.
Thursday’s public works, along with most city committee meetings, take place in relatively small rooms on city hall’s third floor.
Coggs said maybe meetings should be moved to a larger space such as city hall’s rotunda or the common council chamber.
Coggs said she’s exploring additional public health measures that would set firm limits on how many people can gather in one public space.
“The resolution asks for the commissioner of health to work with DPW and whatever department they need to determine some actual orders as we continue to battle COVID-19,” Coggs said.
Coggs said capacity limits should be based on COVID-19 transmission levels.