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Milwaukee health officials address coronavirus concerns: ‘We are ready’

Data pix.

MILWAUKEE -- There are no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Milwaukee County, and only one confirmed case in the state of Wisconsin -- a Dane County patient who is now considered recovered.

But the Milwaukee Health Department is set up to test for the disease and isolate anyone who has it.

The coronavirus is the latest outbreak to make headlines but preventing the spread of the disease is standard practice for the Milwaukee Health Department.

Dr. Sanjib Bhattacharyya

"We are keeping a close eye on it and doing the best to provide the services we can," said Dr. Sanjib Bhattacharyya, Milwaukee Health Department lab director.

Milwaukee is home to one of two Wisconsin labs prepared to test for coronavirus. So far, it hasn't been asked to run any.

"But we are ready, we should able to respond to that in a timely manner," Bhattacharyya said.

The health department is in daily contact with state and federal officials tracking the disease, as well as local residents who have traveled to the affected areas. Four people in Milwaukee County are in voluntary quarantine. They were not tested for coronavirus because they did not have any symptoms and have since cleared.

Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik is hopeful that people who may have been exposed to coronavirus will continue to cooperate. But, if needed, Kowalik has the authority to place individuals under quarantine, cancel public gatherings and close workplaces and schools.

Jeanette Kowalik

"Our goal is to prevent it from a community spread situation where we have to shut things down and really affect the quality of life," said Kowalik.

Right now, Kowalik is asking the community to practice good hygiene, wash hands often and follow travel restrictions. If you feel sick, stay home.

Symptoms of coronavirus include fever, cough and shortness of breath. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you should call your doctor if you have symptoms, have been in contact with someone who has been diagnosed with coronavirus or have traveled to an area where the disease in widespread.

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