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As COVID Vaccines Begin To Arrive, Milwaukee County Leaders Say Precautions Must Continue

Jack Hurbanis
Sign directing traffic at Miller Park's drive-thru testing site. Milwaukee County officials are worried about a decrease in the number of people getting tested.

The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine arrived in Milwaukee County on Tuesday. Distribution among county behavioral health department personnel has begun.

That’s according to County Executive David Crowley. "We’ll be among some of the first to access this vaccine, and though we know that this batch won't provide enough for all eligible (behavioral health) department employees, we do expect to receive more shipments of the vaccine in the coming months until all staff who at least want to be vaccinated are able to," he said.

Crowley said during a media briefing that the county received 100 doses of the Moderna vaccine. Its arrival gives him a bit of hope that we’re turning the corner in combating the virus. But health officials cautioned the public not to get too comfortable. Dr. Ben Weston is with the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Department of Emergency Medicine. He said there are promising downward trends in the number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations. But Weston explained that the number of people getting tested has dropped, perhaps because of the downward trend in cases.

"When you have that downtrend, it becomes less on your mind to think about COVID, it becomes less on your mind to go get tested. We know from looking at syndromic surveillance — that is how many people out there have symptoms and present to our clinics and our emergency departments with symptoms — we know there's a lot of folks with symptoms who are not getting tested. And that's what we really need to focus on," he said. Weston said those groups include people with symptoms and those in close contact with people who’ve been exposed to the virus.

As we approach the end of the year holidays, leaders also encourage people to celebrate virtually. But they say if you do gather, it should be in smaller numbers than normal, for shorter periods of time, and with as much social distance as possible.

Teran Powell joined WUWM in the fall of 2017 as the station’s very first Eric Von Broadcast Fellow. She became WUWM's race and ethnicity reporter in 2018.
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