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Milwaukee Health Department investigates link between election and COVID-19 cases

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik says there needs to be a thorough investigation of the six voters and one poll worker they think contracted COVID-19 from election day.

“You could have one person, and they could have touched, you know, a number of other people, and possibly expose them as well, so we’re working on that,” Kowalik said.

Tuesday marks the 14th day since the election, and symptoms usually take a maximum of 14 days to surface, according to the CDC. But Monday, Kowalik said the city only had about 30 percent of data from that day available. UWM Epidemiologist Mustafa Hussein says the real number of infections is certainly higher than seven.

His models show about 200 people were likely infected out of the nearly 19,000 voters at the polls.

“You can imagine if 200 people were potentially infected at the time, with a high rate of mixing, once again about 300 people per hour at each of the polling stations, you can get far more than just seven cases,” Hussein said.

He says the real number will prove extremely difficult to calculate because it’s difficult to pinpoint what time people became infected.

“We know when their symptoms started perhaps," Hussein said. "We know when they were being referred for testing, but we don’t know exactly for each and every person, when was the date of infection.”

Kowalik says the city hopes to have more concrete results by the end of the week.

“Doing broad notifications for people voting during a certain timeframe. As you recall there were people in line for a very long time to get their vote in.”

There is still no information on whether any of the seven cases were fatal.

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