Flu outbreak slams businesses

A flu outbreak ravaging the country has made its way to Milwaukee, putting a burden on area hospitals, clinics and businesses.

Several members of the staff at Core Creative, a marketing agency in Milwaukee, have stayed home this month to take care of themselves or sick children.

“A couple of people right out of the gate, just coming off the holidays, were sick,” said Beth Crivello-Wagner, director of marketing communications at Core.

The 35-employee company has been able to retain most productivity with others stepping up to fill roles, Crivello-Wagner said.

“We always try to make sure that everyone on our team has an immediate backup,” she said.
Core has encouraged employees to stay home if they are not feeling well, and surfaces are being wiped down regularly to prevent the spread of germs.

“If they’re not feeling well, we definitely don’t want them coming in to the office,” Crivello-Wagner said. “I think people did their best to try to stay on top of things.”

MC2 Inc., a business communications provider in Milwaukee, has two employees out today because a child or child care provider is sick.

“I’m down two employees, but those employees themselves don’t have the flu,” said president Jason Kayzar. “We only have eight employees, but that’s 25 percent of our workforce.”
Luckily, they can work from home, but it won’t be the same level of productivity, he said.

“You’re really probably going to be at about 50 percent of your normal productivity,” Kayzar said. “You can’t necessarily take a call from an important client if you have a crying baby in the background.”

The City of Milwaukee Health Department said this strain of influenza is particularly debilitating and has resulted in a spike in hospital admissions for those 65 and older.

The earlier-than-usual timing of the outbreak has also contributed to the spread of the virus as people gathered for the holidays.

Influenza is spread through the air when a sick individual coughs, sneezes or speaks. Symptoms include fever, sweating, chills, cough, sore throat, stuffy nose, muscle or body aches and fatigue.

“This season’s influenza appears to be more severe than seasons past,” said Bevan Baker, commissioner of health. “The single best way to protect yourself and your family is to get a flu shot. I urge all city residents to get their vaccination if you haven’t already and to take steps to protect your health and the health of your families.”

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