'It is definitely a web:' Milwaukee County health officials share new details as COVID-19 spreads

MILWAUKEE -- More people are testing positive for COVID-19 in Milwaukee County than anywhere else in the state. More than 390 have tested positive in the City of Milwaukee, and the number continues to grow.

Jeanette Kowalik

"It is definitely a web, like you see crime webs and detective work. It's the same thing but related to disease," Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said.

The web of COVID-19, Kowalik says, is getting more complex -- and deadly. 12 people have died across the state, with eight of those 12 in Milwaukee County.  Among those eight are three Milwaukee County women and one man who have been pronounced dead from complications of the virus since Wednesday, March 25.

"You gotta look at the factors. Where these people went, who did they interact with, places of employment. It's extensive," said Kowalik.

Tests are showing valuable information. Of all positive cases in Milwaukee, half are men and half are women, with 17% getting hospitalized. New numbers show a breakdown by race of all lab tests that result in positive or negative; approximately 26.2% were African-American or black, 21.6% were white and 7.7% were Hispanic. The remaining people who were tested identified as non-Hispanic or did not indicate their race or ethnicity.

"The fact that you're looking at testing between African-American and white individuals is being kind of close, but yet about half of the cases are African-American at this time," Kowalik said. "Definitely there is a disparity."

Disparity weaves into the web.

Dr. Ben Weston

"COVID-19 is in all communities in Milwaukee county. While the blue dots may be more concentrated in certain parts of our community, it has already and will continue to affect us all," said Dr. Ben Weston of the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

The county is using all the tools necessary to stop the spread of the virus.

"This is why epidemiology is such a useful tool for public health," Kowalik said.

Health officials and the public are still learning more about the factors of the web, including age and pre-existing conditions. In the case of the deaths, most victims were over the age of 55 and had pre-existing conditions.

Resources to keep you informed about COVID-19

CLICK HERE to view the Milwaukee County COVID-19 dashboard.

CLICK HERE to view the latest COVID-19 totals (updated daily at 2 p.m.) from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

    CoronavirusNow.com: A Fox Television Stations initiative to provide you with the most up-to-date national and international news on COVID-19.

    Helpful phone numbers

      About COVID-19 (from the CDC)

      Symptoms: Reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases. These symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure (based on the incubation period of MERS-CoV viruses).