Health department issues mask advisory for city of Milwaukee as 'BA.5 variant is spreading quickly'

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Health Department on Friday, July 15, issued 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.

Milwaukee County on Thursday, July 14, moved into the CDC’s “high” level of COVID-19 community spread. 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.

“The BA.5 variant is spreading quickly in Milwaukee,” said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson. “Even with prior infection, the BA.5 variant is seemingly more transmissible and more immune-evading. The good news is the COVID-19 vaccine is working to protect against severe illness and death, but masking is an important additional tool to protect against widespread infection.”

According to a news release from the health department, masking is a critical public health tool and a key layer of protection against transmitting and contracting COVID-19. 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.

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