First case of coronavirus confirmed in Milwaukee, health officials say

Downtown Milwaukee skyline
Downtown Milwaukee skyline. Photo by Shutterstock

Last updated on March 16th, 2020 at 11:50 am

The first presumptive case of novel coronavirus, COVID-19, was confirmed in Milwaukee County, Milwaukee Health Department officials announced Friday.

“MHD is awaiting confirmatory testing from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but health officials consider the presumptive results actionable,” according to a statement in a press release.

The patient is a female age 30 to 35 years old and is currently at home. Health officials say she was in close contact to a confirmed COVID-19 case, according to the release.

MHD is in the process of identifying and contacting all those who may have come in contact with the infected person. All close contacts will be quarantined for 15 days from their exposure and will be monitored for fever and respiratory symptoms.

“The City of Milwaukee has been working around the clock to prepare for this and I am confident that our health department is up to the challenge,” Mayor Tom Barrett said in a statement. “Our administration is collaborating with federal, state, and local partners as we monitor developments with this outbreak.”

City of Milwaukee Commissioner of Health Jeanette Kowalik has acknowledged that COVID-19 would arrive in Milwaukee as it has been discovered in surrounding areas. MHD has been preparing for the arrival of coronavirus through its Democratic National Convention preparations and experience managing other outbreaks ranging from H1N1 influenza in 2009-2010 and vaccine preventable disease, according to a press release.

“It is critical that all of us do our part to slow the spread of this virus by refraining from touching one’s face, eyes, and nose, covering coughs, washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and staying home when sick with cold or flu-like symptoms,” Kowalik said in a statement. “We have also prepared for community mitigation measures including cancellations of large events and temporary school closures should they become necessary.”

COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how flu and other respiratory diseases spread, or when people touch surfaces that have been contaminated by an infected person, and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

The latest guidance from the CDC can be found here.

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