MILWAUKEE - Local health departments have been supplying masks, contact tracers and COVID-19 tests amid the pandemic. It all is at risk of going away if they run out of money and time.
It is a situation that no one predicted: a pandemic gripping the nation -- taking a toll on health and the economy -- draining local governments.
"We did not budget for a pandemic," said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. "We do not have the resources to continue funding the increased need for these services."
Cases of COVID-19 have exploded in Wisconsin. A record rise in cases was reported on Thursday, Oct. 15.
Milwaukee County leaders are calling on Congress to act as they face dire fiscal situations.
"Our hands are so tied, and without state and particularly federal government assistance, I don't know how we meet the need," said Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy.
Milwaukee County municipalities have received money from the federal CARES Act, but it has to be spent by Dember 2020. It goes directly to the state, to be distributed at the local level.
Leaders in Milwaukee County are asking Congress to send funds directly to health departments and for funds to continue through the next year.
"COVID-19 does not have an expiration date, so those funds shouldn't have an expiration date either," South Milwaukee Mayor Erik Brooks said.
Those Milwaukee County mayors said most of the CARES Act money has been spent on hiring new health department employees who handle contact tracing.
Officials worry that, without the money, there will have to be cuts made elsewhere.