Sen. Baldwin calls for more COVID-19 testing; African-American still disproportionately affected by virus

MILWAUKEE -- The bulk of COVID-19 cases and deaths are being seen in the African-American community -- especially in Milwaukee County.

Now, health officials say people will see more health department workers helping to stop the spread in some harder-hit communities over the coming weeks.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin introduced a bill calling for more COVID-19 testing.

"We need to see it across the spectrum, positive tests, negative tests, we need to see access to testing by communities of color," Sen. Baldwin said. "I am pushing fervently for it to be mandated, for it to be collected at the national level."

Wanda Montgomery

Village of Brown Deer President Wanda Montgomery said it is much needed to address disparities in the African-American community -- calling for a cultural shift when it comes to health with continued social distancing and masks.

"There are names behind COVID-19," said Montgomery. "I've made myself a face mask, I've made several, and they work. No problem. We need to do what we need to do so that we can be around after this."

Dr. Ben Weston

Inequity has been a tale as old as Time in the Milwaukee area, according to Dr. Ben Weston with the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

"An African-American person is nearly three times more likely to die of COVID-19 in Milwaukee than a white person," Weston said. "They're a staggering seven times more likely to die of COVID in the state of Wisconsin, and the reason of this is not due to individual choices.

"Rather, it's due to the historical institutional and ongoing effects of disparities. Of marginalization, and of racism in our community."

Sen. Baldwin said her legislation calls for more research to identify data. Those data would help draw conclusions on where to go from here to help those most affected by the virus.

She also said she is looking into fixing issues with racial disparity when it comes to who is gaining access to small business loans and who is now.

FOX6 News reached out to Sen. Ron Johnson to get his take on the introduced legislation, but did not hear back.