Milwaukee mask advisory; county in ‘high’ level of COVID community spread

The Milwaukee Health Department issued on Friday, May 20 a mask advisory for the city of Milwaukee in accordance with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations.

“We’ve been watching trends most recently. We’re nowhere near where we were last winter or in December and January,” said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson. “However, we did issue a mask advisory just as a reminder to people that COVID is still with us. If you’re indoors in public spaces, and are concerned about contracting COVID, you should wear a mask.”

Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson

Milwaukee County moved into the CDC’s “high” level of COVID-19 community spread on Thursday. A news release says this level is based on three indicators: new cases per 100,000 people in the last seven days, new hospital admissions with COVID-19 per 100,000 people in the last seven days, and percent of inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients .

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“We’re at a different point in the pandemic,” Johnson said. “We’ve learned a lot. We are not seeing the rise in hospitalizations that we’ve seen previously. We are not seeing the severe illness that we have seen previously. We have tools that we didn’t have..”

In accordance with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations at this COVID-19 Community Level, the Milwaukee Health Department issues a mask advisory for the city of Milwaukee. All individuals, regardless of vaccination status or past COVID-19 infection, should wear a mask at all times when indoors and in a public setting. This advisory applies to all individuals in Milwaukee over the age of two years who can medically tolerate wearing a mask.

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“This is not time for panic. It’s just a note of caution. If you’re going out, if you’re going to the bars, if you’re attending a graduation, we recommend you put on a mask when you’re indoors,” Johnson said.

Officials say while different types of masks provide different levels of protection, it is important to remember any mask, worn consistently and snugly, is better than no mask. Higher-quality masks, such as KN95 masks and N95 respirators, can offer an additional layer of protection. For those without access to a higher-quality mask, wearing two masks is an option to increase protection.

In addition to masking, the Milwaukee Health Department strongly advises implementing a layered mitigation strategy: stay up-to-date on COVID-19 vaccines, physically distance and avoid crowded spaces, improve ventilation of indoor spaces, practice thorough hand hygiene, and test to prevent spread when sick or identified as a close contact.

This is a developing story.

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