Milwaukee monitoring 4 people for possible exposure to coronavirus; cases not confirmed

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee is currently monitoring four people who recently returned from China for coronavirus. City of Milwaukee officials tell FOX6 News that those four people are in voluntary isolation at home as a safety precaution.

Tom Barrett

An official with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it's not a matter of if but when coronavirus will spread throughout the country.

"Preparation is extremely important in the hopes that all this preparation leads to nothing," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Barrett and Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik met Friday, Feb. 28 to address growing concerns over the outbreak.

"We've received a number of calls and concerns from individuals in the community, so we wanted to let everybody know what's going on," Kowalik said. "We are preparing to have the ability to test COVID-19 for diagnostic purposes only."

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Kowalik said the City of Milwaukee Health Department is in constant communication with state and federal officials when it comes to containing the disease. The CDC aims to have every state and local health department testing for coronavirus by the end of next week. World Health Organization officials said vaccinations are in the works.

Jeanette Kowalik

"As COVID-19 evolves, eventually there should be a vaccine at some point, but vaccine development takes some time," said Kowalik.

Community members are urged to practice healthy habits. Barrett shared an additional reminder for the community.

"As a community, we do need to be vigilant against fear and anxiety around the virus that could lead to social stigma toward Chinese or other Asian-Americans," Barrett said. "Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger toward ordinary people."

Officials said a coronavirus vaccine could take at least a year before it is developed, proven effective, and approved.