'Wrong direction:' Milwaukee Co. falling behind in key indicators used to track safe reopening

MILWAUKEE -- Health officials announced Tuesday, May 26 that Milwaukee County has fallen behind in two of five categories used to track a safe reopening.

The five, key indicators are used to track Milwaukee County's health and safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Ben Weston

"Our indicators are meant to summarize how we in the community are doing," Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, said. "We are clearly at a critical and fragile period."

Those indicators are not where health officials would like them to be, according to Weston.

Weston says testing, personal protective equipment and contact tracing remain the same. However, on Tuesday, the "care" indicator was moved from green to yellow, while "cases" was downgraded from yellow to red.

Milwaukee County COVID-19 reopening indicators

"All green marks would be excellent," said Weston. "Cases and care both moved in the wrong direction."

Jeanette Kowalik

Officials say it is too soon to tell if increases cases and hospitalizations are directly tied to some communities loosening restrictions on "Safer at Home" -- but they are urging caution.

"As quickly as we can move into getting back to some type of normal, we can make things worse," Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said.

Moving toward a sense of normalcy will return on Milwaukee County Transit System buses beginning Monday. Nearly two months after suspending fare collection, riders will once again pay for their ride and enter at the front of the bus.

"We are returning to fares because we continue to have an increase in costs associated with COVID-19," Dan Boehm, MCTS managing director, said.

Buses will still be limited to 10 passengers at a time. Cash is going to be accepted, but riders are encouraged to pay using their smart card or the MCTS app.

Passengers are also advised to wear a face mask covering their nose and mouth with riding MCTS buses and are being asked to limit their conversations with drivers.