Milwaukee Health Department shares plans to combat coronavirus as 14 possible cases pend in Wisconsin

NOW: Milwaukee Health Department shares plans to combat coronavirus as 14 possible cases pend in Wisconsin

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports there are 14 possible cases of coronavirus under investigation in the state.

Thursday, Milwaukee city leaders held a special meeting to discuss their plans to stop the spread of the virus.

Right now there are no cases in the city or county.

“Our goal is to make sure it doesn’t become a community spread situation where we have to shut things down,” Dr. Jeanette Kowalik, Milwaukee Health Commissioner, said.

The health department is now working on setting up a community hotline and is encouraging those traveling to high risk countries like China and Italy, to self-quarantine when they return to Milwaukee.

The health commissioner said she is prepared to issue quarantine and isolation orders.

“If need be I will, but there’s no need to right now,” she said.

New this month, the Milwaukee Health Department can now test for the coronavirus.

“We haven’t seen any specimen yet, interesting enough, but we are ready,” Sanjib Bhattacharyya, Milwaukee Health Department Laboratory Director, said.

One big concern of many city leaders is how this virus could affect the Democratic National Convention in July.

“What indeed is the likelihood that the DNC would have to be cancelled?” Alderman Bob Donovan asked during the Public Safety and Health Committee’s special coronavirus meeting.

“We can’t say now that it would be canceled or anything like that,” Dr. Kowalik, responded. “Right now it’s continuing to monitor, continue to survey the situation, and then as it gets closer a determination would be made.”

With no coronavirus vaccine available yet, health officials say stopping the spread of the virus is largely up to the community.

The health department is encouraging residents to wash their hands and stay home when sick.

“We can’t stress enough that we need public cooperation… we need everyone on board to help stop the spread of coronavirus,” Julie Katrichis, Milwaukee Health Department Director of Clinic Operations, said.

The Health Department also shared these tips to stop the spread including making sure to use clean towels, keeping your hands off of your face, and disinfecting cell phones.

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