Milwaukee Co. first responders work to preserve resources during COVID-19 pandemic

NOW: Milwaukee Co. first responders work to preserve resources during COVID-19 pandemic

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- In their fight against the coronavirus, Milwaukee County first responders are also battling limited resources.

“Our personal protective gear is in short supply, talking about gloves and masks and gowns, and it’s difficult to replace because there is a national shortage," Milwaukee Fire Chief Mark Rohlfing said.

Rohlfing added that, thankfully, all departments in the county are sharing supplies.

As for safety, they are limiting firefighters going into homes and screening calls more closely.

City police have closed certain offices and are asking residents to go online or call instead of visiting district stations.

“We’re ensuring that we’re cleaning our squads, our office space that we’re coming in contact with each other," Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said.

In a YouTube video Morales asked local businesses to donate any personal protective equipment (PPEs) to the department. 

PPEs are any clothing, helmets, gloves or other equipment designed to protect a person's body from injury or infection.

"We are currently awaiting the arrival of that equipment. However, we expect that it won't receive it for several months," Morales said in the clip.

The Milwaukee County Transit Service (MCTS) is also reducing busing.

Starting Monday, March 23, all weekday routes will run on the weekend schedule.

The Freeway Flyers, Route 143 Ozaukee County Express and Route 137 will not operate.

“This will help to ensure that people can get to essential jobs and critical destinations while at the same time keeping our drivers safe," Dan Boehm, MCTS managing director, said.

As Illinois residents prepare for a “shelter-in-place” order, Milwaukee leaders hope Wisconsinites take their message seriously.

“The message that I think is the most effective, and the truest message, is you are safer at home," Mayor Tom Barrett said.

Barrett also added that Wisconsin's April 7 primary is still set to happen, but a cancellation is not out of the question.

He stressed that as long as the election is scheduled, he wants voters to be able to exercise their right.

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