Milwaukee focusing on vaccines to beat uptick in cases

NOW: Milwaukee focusing on vaccines to beat uptick in cases

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee health leaders continue to watch the city's growing coronavirus case numbers.

However, they say they will not suddenly lock down the city again.

As FEMA takes over the Wisconsin Center, Milwaukee leaders said the number of shots given should go up at the center and out in the community.

The Milwaukee Health Department can move staff to mobile sites to get more shots to people in disadvantaged neighborhoods.

"I have parents who are in their seventies, I have a 15-month-old also, so I don't want to get it and pass it to anybody," said Courtney Saari, who drove in from Madison to get her first shot.

She said it was difficult to find a vaccine appointment, so she decided to come to Milwaukee.

Going online every day, searching the Walgreens app and trying to schedule your first dose and the second dose wasn't available," said Saari.

As the Wisconsin Center transitions to a FEMA site, the health department is going to reassign staff to other clinics across the city. That should boost the number of people it can vaccinate overall.

"I'm really hopeful that this will stop this creep, that this spike will slow down," said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson.

Outrunning the growth in new cases and new variants is now the health department's top priority. Alderman Khalif Rainey asked if the city's reopening two weeks ago was too fast.

"Do you believe it was premature to skip phase five? Should we have done that?" asked Rainey.

"Our data very clearly was showing us at the time, and again this was only two weeks ago, that we were in a downward, that our numbers were going down, our test positivity was going down," said Johnson.

Johnson said the city is not going to change health orders every week.

"The next review will be the week of April 18, and our intention is that we will look at the data at that time and see where we stand," said Johnson.

If Milwaukee needs to take a step back in its reopening plan, the city will not go back as far as where it came from.

Phase five is more open than phase four, which the city had been in for several months.

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