Milwaukee County COVID trends 'encouraging'

Officials with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Tuesday, March 22 stopped in Milwaukee as part of the DHS "Thank You Tour."

For the first time in two years, since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Milwaukee County frontline workers met face-to-face with DHS partners. 

"We talked on the phone a lot, ‘Zoomed’ a lot – but never met each other in person," said Ericka Sinclair, CEO of Health Connections, Inc.

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The state health officials stopped at the Lincoln Park Pavilion to recognize workers for providing access to testing and vaccinations, especially communities of color.

"We are taking this opportunity now that we have come through almost two years of this really difficult pandemic to say just a gigantic 'thank you," said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake.

As part of the tour, DHS officials will stop at health departments, clinics and vaccine and testing sites across the state.

"It really has taken everyone to get us to this point in the pandemic where we can be feeling good and feeling like it’s time to celebrate," Timberlake said.

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The DHS said the spread of COVID-19 is way down, and it is OK to get back together in person, including in Milwaukee County.

"We can be a little more liberal with the sort of mitigation strategies that we’re taking, but it’s still is important to think about layers of protection," said Dr. Ben Weston, Milwaukee County's chief health policy advisor.

"The local numbers are encouraging but with a cautionary note," said Mike Gutzeit with Children's Wisconsin.

During the Milwaukee County weekly COVID-19 briefing Tuesday, officials said they are keeping an eye on trends in Europe, where cases are on the rise.

"In the coming weeks, we may well see an increase in cases. Hopefully, a relatively small one – or we may see a slowing in our downtrend of cases," Weston said.

Health experts are still pushing the importance of vaccinations. South Shore health departments are offering a $50 gift card incentive for anyone receiving any dose of the vaccine.

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