One week after Milwaukee lifts health order, officials say COVID-19 trends at an all-time low

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee health officials say they'll continue to push vaccination efforts with area organizations and sports teams so more people will roll up their sleeves. This, after national data show incentives do work in convincing people to get the shot.

"It makes me feel good that we made that decision. When we made the decision, I think it was the right time to start moving life back to normal," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

One week since Milwaukee lifted its health order, officials say Milwaukee County's trends are at an all-time low with a 1.7-percent positivity rate and 20 new cases every day.

"Our data is proof that vaccinations are working to bring the burden rate down in our city," said Kirsten Johnson, Milwaukee's health commissioner.

"We are seeing decreases in disease burden and we are also seeing increases in our vaccination numbers, although we want our vaccination numbers to continue to improve," adds Mayor Barrett.

Johnson says as of Tuesday more than 50-percent of adults in the city have gotten their first dose. National data by the Kaiser Family Foundation reveal 37-percent of people in the "wait and see" category plan to get vaccinated within three months, and incentives are effective.

"Our numbers continue to decrease week after week, but if we want to see this trend continue we must also keep vaccinating," Johnson says. "I can say that the events where we have incentives available have higher numbers than the events that do not, overwhelmingly."

The Milwaukee Health Department will hold a Bucks playoff ticket raffle in the Deer District on Thursday, June 10 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Brewers also announced two more pop-up vaccination clinics next week in exchange for two free tickets. The Brewers clinic will begin at 4:10 p.m. on Tuesday, June 15 and 9:10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 16.

Johnson plans to ramp up door-to-door vaccinations once efforts for mobile pop-up clinics wrap up.

"We're doing everything we can, as the health commissioner mentioned, to get this penetration into the neighborhoods," adds Mayor Barrett. "So we have not taken our foot off the gas pedal in any fashion."

The Milwaukee Health Department says this past weekend's Summerfest clinic vaccinated 396 people, and other weekend efforts in the area pushed that number to 500. Doctors say with the new Delta variant spreading in the U.S., getting a vaccine is critical.

"If you're unvaccinated and you're lucky enough to not have gotten COVID yet, you are truly on borrowed time," said Dr. Ben Weston, associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin and medical director for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

"The virus is not the same as it was last spring or in the fall. It's far, far more contagious and potentially more dangerous, more severe."

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