Businesses fear high COVID-19 cases could cause a regression in reopening

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Wisconsin is still showing higher averages of positive cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic started.

Commerce experts say local businesses are taking the necessary precautions to stop the spread of coronavirus and they’re concerned about how another shutdown could impact their bottom line.

“We were successful at flattening the curve in the spring because we all pitched in and stayed home,” said Andrea Palm, Department of Health Services secretary designee.

It’s a downward trend the state would like to see again.

Wisconsin set a new record Saturday, Sept. 26, with more than 2,800 positive cases of coronavirus – that’s the highest since the pandemic began.

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce is the largest business group in the Milwaukee area. They say local businesses fear another shutdown.

“We’re certainly hoping it doesn’t because businesses have taken dramatic steps to put safety protocols in place; and in many ways bars, restaurants, and businesses are one of the safest places people can be right now,” said Steve Bass, senior VP for government affairs and public policy at MMAC.

In the city of Milwaukee, establishments have to have an approved health and safety plan in order to operate.

Bass claims the city has a lower rate of coronavirus compared to surrounding areas.

“The city’s positive percentage is running between 5, 6, maybe 7-percent a day compared to state averages up in the double digits,” explains Bass. “So in the city, there’s some big concern that our businesses might get lumped with other places where there are hot spots.”

While state officials say they can’t attribute the rise in cases to any one thing, they are still reminding people to wear their mask and stay home when possible.

“As time has gone on I think we’ve learned lessons that allow us to manage patients more successfully, but in terms of the specific trends that we’ve seen in Wisconsin, I’m not sure we can attribute it to any one thing,” says Dr. Ryan Westergaard, the state’s chief medical officer.

The state is expected to hold a coronavirus briefing Tuesday, Sept. 29, to address the latest case numbers and response.

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