Coronavirus: 3 Wisconsin Deaths, At Least 88 Cases in Milwaukee County

Mar 20, 2020

For the most up-to-date coronavirus information, read WUWM's latest post.

Updated at 10:39 a.m.

There are now three reported COVID-19 deaths in Wisconsin. Friday, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner says it was investigating the death of a 66-year-old man who died from complications of the illness caused by the coronavirus.

The medical examiner says the Milwaukee man had been hospitalized for several days prior to his death.

Gov. Tony Evers and health officials announced two people in Wisconsin died from COVID-19 Thursday evening. The first was a man in his 50s from Fond du Lac County; the second was a man in his 90s from Ozaukee County.  State health officials did not immediately confirm that the Milwaukee death was the third in the state from COVID-19. 

Milwaukee County is reporting 88 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and Mayor Tom Barrett announced he's in self-quarantine for 14 days, after learning he came into contact with someone who tested positive.

And, mayors in Green Bay, Appleton, and Neenah are asking for Wisconsin's April 7 election to be delayed.

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Meanwhile, the state says people in respiratory distress or in need of emergency care should be tested. Testing for COVID-19 is being performed at government and private labs. 

But people who only have flu-like symptoms should not. City of Milwaukee Commissioner of Health Jeanette Kowalik says those individuals should isolate for 14 days and consider themselves infected, now that there is community spread of COVID-19.

Kowalik gave an update on testing at a web-based briefing with city and Milwaukee County officials Thursday afternoon. They unveiled an online map and other information so people can see where the positive cases in Milwaukee County are located, and where testing is taking place. 

Dashboard as of 8:34 a.m. Friday, March 20.
Credit Screen capture of the Milwaukee County COVID-19 Dashboard

Ben Weston, county emergency medical services director, described the new track board provided by the Office of Emergency Management: "The hope here is that this map will provide resources for our hospital systems, for our health departments, for our fire departments, but it will also be public facing to inform the public so they have a better understanding of what's going on in our community."”  

Officials also addressed the news that National Guard troops are at the ready, in case they're needed in the response to the coronavirus. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett responded to questions about ways the guard might be used. He said it wouldn't necessarily be to enforce shelter-in-place scenarios, although he is urging people with symptoms to stay home to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.

"If you show symptoms of this disease, if you have COVID-19, then we're asking you to self-quarantine. We're asking you to stay home, make sure that you keep your social isolation ... But the reality we're facing here is that you might be a transmitter ... The National Guard may be there to help us with with other challenges. For example, if we need them for the election, they might be able to help us there. If we need them for some housing issues. I think all of this is so, so much changing right now that they may be used in a number of different areas," he said.

Barrett also talked about the need for personal protective equipment for medical personnel and testing equipment for the county. He rebuffed President Trump’s statement on Thursday that the shortage of medical supplies falls on state governors.

“We just had a call last night with hospital executives and they repeatedly stated how much they need personal protection equipment. We have to get that. It has to be national priority as well as state priority. It is not appropriate to punt that to anybody. That has to come directly from the top," he said.

Barrett said the more quickly people on the front lines have access to protective gear — and testing capacity — the more quickly the coronavirus can be addressed.

During this pandemic, WUWM's Bubbler Talk is focusing on the coronavirus and its impact on the Milwaukee area. If you have a question, submit it below.

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