Milwaukee cooling center open amid heat wave, taking coronavirus precautions

NOW: Milwaukee cooling center open amid heat wave, taking coronavirus precautions

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- In response to the heat wave, the City of Milwaukee Health Department has opened a cooling center.

However, compared to previous years, this time around is more challenging due to coronavirus.

The cooling center is located in the gym of North Division High School on the city’s north side. Typically, cooling centers are held in places like libraries and senior centers, but to maintain social distancing, that’s not possible.

“How do we effectively physically distance in a center? How do we offer the basics?” questioned Nick Tomaro, City of Milwaukee Heath Department preparedness coordinator.

The department is assessing appropriate locations to use as future sites.

Community members say they feel safe in a gym. “I think it’s actually better to be in a gym because in a gym you have more space, so you can use more social distancing versus if you were in a library, you’re more confined,” said Adrienne Thompson.

The health department will offer face coverings and hand sanitizer while cooling centers are in operation.

As for people who are concerned about coronavirus and the heat wave, medical experts from UW-Health suggest taking precautions.

“I think it’s tough,” said Dr. Brian Patterson, emergency medicine for UW-Health. “As opposed to other years when some of our messages have been, if you’re hot and you don’t have air conditioning, go find a public place where you can cool down, obviously that’s much harder to do with taking appropriate precautions. People need to maintain the precautions they’re taking for coronavirus and find ways to beat the heat.”

They also recommend checking in on those of the vulnerable population, such as the elderly. Other tips include staying hydrated, and taking breaks every half hour while working outdoors.

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