Milwaukee Health Services distributes COVID-19 resources, info amid Juneteenth celebrations

MILWAUKEE -- City leaders shared a message to stay healthy during the pandemic at Milwaukee's Juneteenth celebrations on Friday.

Denise Holmes

The spread of COVID-19 weighed heavily on Denise Holmes' mind during the day's celebrations.

"I had an uncle who died from it. We know a lot of people who died from it," said Denise Holmes with Greater Mt. Sinai church. "I keep up with it -- I'm like with everything that's going on, and you want to protest but we still have to be careful."

To help people who live in what organizers called a "resource desert," Milwaukee Health Services handed out free safety kits that included masks, hand sanitizer and information on how to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

COVID-19 resource distribution at Milwaukee Health Services

"The problem is we don't have a FEMA-like response here in Milwaukee for the high pandemic areas," Dr. Tito Izard, president of Milwaukee Health Services, said.

Dr. Tito Izard

Izard said Milwaukee Health Services has tested approximately 600 people since the pandemic began. 12% of those tests have come back positive which, Izard said, is higher than the state average -- and has a larger impact on communities of color.

"It's not fair to tell people to stay safe from the COVID-19 virus and not provide them with the resources to do so," said Izard.

Also available on Friday was information on how to protest safely, including reminders about social distancing.

Milwaukee Health Services

"Most rational people realize we are not over it," Izard said.

Milwaukee Health Services also has COVID-19 testing on-site -- both drive-up and walk-thru -- at its location near Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Clarke Street. They have been there since March, and organizers say they will continue to be here as long as they're needed.