New testing sites are opening as the city prepares to close National Guard sites at Custer Stadium and UMOS. (Photo by Adam Carr)

Here’s the latest update on COVID-19 in Milwaukee and the resources you need to combat it.

Testing sites looking for staff

The National Guard sites at Custer Stadium and UMOS are closing this week and will be replaced by the city-run Northwest Health Center, South Side Health Center and Miller Park as new testing locations.

Mayor Tom Barrett said the Milwaukee Health Department is looking for individuals to help staff the three locations.

Barrett said the department needs  registration assistants, runners and testers to work part time and full time. “Runners” are responsible for transporting medical supplies and testing materials. Training and orientation for these positions will be provided on-site.

“This is not something where you need to have a PhD in something,” Barrett said. “These are opportunities for you to have a job where you can help support your family.”

Anyone interested can find applications on MilwaukeeJobs.com by searching “testing sites.”

Free flu shots offered at testing sites

The Milwaukee Health Department announced last week that free flu shots will be offered at the Northwest Health Center and Southside Health Center, the same sites that will become primary testing locations for the city.

Flu shots will be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday of each week. Individuals can receive a COVID-19 test and flu vaccine in the same visit.

The move comes as health officials recommend flu vaccination to avoid coinfection with the coronavirus.

Cases rising in Milwaukee County

Greenfield Health Commissioner Darren Rausch said the county averaged 319 new cases per day last week, higher than any other time during the pandemic.

Rausch said no one thing could be attributed to the rise in cases but pointed to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finding that small household gatherings may be the reason for the recent surges across the country.

“We know there are things happening,” Rausch said. “We know there are gatherings in the community, and we know those can be a driver.”

Rausch urged people to continue wearing masks and to maintain social distancing. He also added to be mindful of the people you spend time with, and make sure that you’re not putting yourself in unsafe social situations.

Ben Weston, director of medical services for the Milwaukee County Department of Emergency Management, said the county is still doing slightly better than the state in terms of cases.

Judge strikes down restaurant order

A state order from Gov. Tony Evers last week that limited restaurants and bars to 25% capacity was struck down last week in court.

Sawyer County Circuit Judge John Yackel blocked the order, as the Wisconsin Tavern League sued the Evers administration for the order. The league said the order would be responsible for many taverns and restaurants closing because of the economic impact of serving under capacity.

A court date is set for Oct. 19, in which lawyers for the Evers administration will be able to argue for the order to be reinstated.

Barrett spoke out about the order being struck down, saying that he was happy Milwaukee had its own plan in place and criticized the lack of action from the Wisconsin legislature in COVID-19 safeguards.

“What the legislature can do, should do, must do is come into session since it’s been out of session essentially for half a year and address these issues,” Barrett said. “But for the legislature to do absolutely nothing and then criticize the governor, they couldn’t be more wrong.”

This comes as Barrett warned bars in Milwaukee to begin following local mandates more closely after reported violations.

State daily case total breaks record

The state topped its daily positive cases count again on Oct. 15, reaching 3,747 new cases.

This increase continues a bad month for Wisconsin, which continues to see a rise in hospitalizations and deaths. Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said 10 of the top 20 metro areas in the country for coronavirus cases were located in Wisconsin.

“The trends are very real, and they’re very bad,” Weston said. “Hospitals in the state are feeling so overwhelmed in some cases that they’re transferring out patients, and you better believe that is not a decision those hospitals reach lightly.”

Where to get free masks

 To obtain a free mask, residents can visit these sites:

  • The Keenan Health Clinic, 3200 N. 36th St., is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • The Northwest Health Center, 7630 W. Mill Rd., is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  • The Southside Health Center, 1639 S. 23rd St., is open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday.

NNS reporters also gathered a list of where to buy locally made masks if you’re looking to show some local business love when masking up.

Check the City of Milwaukee Health Department’s website for the most updated facts and answers to questions about the mask ordinance.

Resources to know

Look here for up-to-date statistics on COVID-19 in the county. More precautions on how to stay safe and information on COVID-19 can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website.

Contact your health provider, call IMPACT 2-1-1 or take a look at the county’s testing site map to find a testing center near you. The free community testing sites at the Northwest Health Center, 7630 W. Mill Rd., and Southside Health Center, 1639 S. 23rd St., are now open and operating. Miller Park also is opening as a testing site effective Oct. 19.

The community testing sites at Custer Stadium and UMOS closed last week.

For more information on testing, including how to identify symptoms and when you should get tested, visit TestUpMKE.com. Available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Burmese and Arabic.

Check out our continuing coronavirus coverage.

Looking for more personalized direction to resources and information during the coronavirus crisis? Get connected with News414, a texting-based news resource from Milwaukee NNS, Wisconsin Watch and Outlier Media. You can text MILWAUKEE to 73224 and begin to receive free, personalized data via text messages.

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