Across Wisconsin, more than 700 people have died from COVID-19. Still, officials in Milwaukee County worry that people are getting too comfortable and aren’t taking precautions to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik says the city is seeing an uptick in youth under the age of 15 contracting COVID-19. She says the trend is largely on Milwaukee's south side, in the 53215 and 53214 ZIP codes.
“We just want to put the word out that just because you’re not older or you don’t have a health condition doesn’t mean you can’t be negatively impacted or infected by COVID-19,” Kowalik says.
Kowalik says while many people who get sick may recover from the illness, the long-term ramifications are unknown. As businesses reopen and the weather gets nicer, she urges younger people to think about others before acting, as the coronavirus can be spread before you even know you have it.
Another concern Milwaukee County leaders shared at a briefing on Tuesday is the decline in the number of people being tested. Kowalik says there are a number of reasons for the decline.
“Perception of risk. Two, related to the demonstrations and protests. If people are busy protesting, their time has shifted. They’re not going to go and wait in line to get tested. And then thirdly, just again, some concerns about maybe there’s some concerns about who’s helping to staff the community testing sites,” Kowalik says.
The National Guard is staffing some of the community testing locations. Guard members also were stationed in Milwaukee to protect properties in the wake of looting that followed initial protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Kowalik says the guard’s presence during protests may have resulted in lower turnout at the Guard’s testing sites, among people who don’t trust the military.
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