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Milwaukee officials discuss preparations amid coronavirus concerns

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Posted at 11:52 AM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-10 11:57:20-04

Milwaukee health officials are taking actions to prepare as coronavirus continues to spread throughout the country.

On Sunday, Mayor Tom Barrett said there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Milwaukee, but he's been in contact with officials from local hospitals to discuss how to accommodate should people become infected.

"The key word is preparation with the hope that none of this is ever going to be necessary in our community," Mayor Barrett said.

The Milwaukee Health Department now has the ability to test for the coronavirus. Health Commissioner Dr. Jeannette Kowalik said on Sunday they have tested two people and results have come back negative. Only people who meet CDC criteria will be tested. The department has the ability to process about 25-30 patient tests per day, and officials expect this to increase.

Four people in Milwaukee were voluntarily self-quarantining after returning from China, but Dr. Kowalik said three have already passed the 14-day period.

When it comes to spread, Dr. Kowalik says it's not a matter of if but when.

"This is a very contagious virus," Dr. Kowalik said.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wisconsin) discussed how federal funding can support local public health efforts. Rep. Moore is working on a bill that would provide paid sick day time for families impacted by the coronavirus.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 44 people have been tested for the virus. One tested positive last month but is recovering. Thirty-one people have tested negative and 12 are pending.

Milwaukee officials are keeping a close eye on the situation in Illinois. On Sunday, officials in Chicago announced the seventh case of coronavirus in the state.

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