Milwaukee County, city officials call for more resources to stop growing COVID-19 case numbers

MILWAUKEE -- The highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths in Wisconsin are in Milwaukee County. Additionally, health officials tell FOX6 News that the majority of cases are among African-American men.

Chris Abele

"We can't keep having these calls and not flag very loudly," said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

Abele was one of several government officials who called out the need for more resources to stop the growing number of coronavirus cases -- particularly on Milwaukee's north side -- Friday afternoon.

"The giant majority of them, the biggest chunk by far, is the African-American community," Abele said. "Almost all of the fatalities."

Nearly 500 cases are now confirmed in Milwaukee County, the majority of them in the City of Milwaukee. Local leaders said officials from the CDC are now in the city, studying how the coronavirus is spreading.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

"We have literally tens of thousands of individuals who do not have their own personal physician," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Barrett believed more people on the city's north side should be tested: "Testing continues to be an issue obviously, and I think that there's a lot of people who feel that testing is not equally distributed."

There is currently a short supply of tests being reserved for hospitals.

Dr. Ben Weston

"Due to the current state of constrained testing supplies and processing availability, testing in our health system is being reserved for those with the highest level of illness and the highest level of risk," said Dr. Ben Weston of the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

Leaders also hope educational materials and PSAs will promote health practices like social distancing.

"You're going to be seeing that 'stay home save lives' message in a lot of places," Abele said.

Due to the lack of tests, state health experts believe the number of cases is actually much higher than what is known and reported.