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Milwaukee Health Department offers guidance regarding travel, mass gatherings

Milwaukee Health Department

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Health Department (MHD) is issuing guidance regarding travel and mass gatherings to help limit the spread of the virus locally.

The MHD is strongly recommending that organizations limit all non-essential gatherings over 250 people to help slow the spread of disease within and between local communities. Mass gatherings and large community events bring people from multiple jurisdictions into close contact with each other, which has the potential to increase COVID-19 transmission. At this time there is no recommendation to close schools, businesses or other daily operations.

When discussing and considering mass gatherings, organizers should consider the following:

  • Potential attendees including: older adults, individuals with underlying health conditions, or other vulnerable groups (children)
  • The setting of the event, particularly if it involves sustained interaction between attendees in close physical proximity (6 feet)

The MHD and DHS also recommend against all non-essential travel to any U.S. state where the CDC deems there is “sustained community transmission” of COVID-19. As of March 12, 2020 (3:11 pm), the CDC has determined sustained community transmission is occurring in California, New York, and Washington. As the situation changes, travelers should refer to the list of “States Reporting Cases of COVID-19 to CDC” on the “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the U.S.” webpage.

For all travelers returning to Wisconsin from U.S. states where the CDC has determined that community transmission is sustained, MHD and DHS recommends that individuals self-quarantine at home for 14 calendar days and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 (including fever and cough). The DHS COVID-19 webpage provides instructions on how to self-quarantine and self-monitor for symptoms.

Currently the CDC, MHD, and DHS recommend the following with respect to international travel:

  • All travelers avoid non-essential travel to China, Iran, most of Europe (including Italy), and South Korea (Level 3 Travel Notice)
  • Older adults and those with underlying health conditions CDC underlying health conditions avoid travel to Japan (Level 2 Travel Notice)
  • Travelers practice normal precautions (avoiding contact with sick people, avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth, etc.) when traveling to Hong Kong (Level 1 Travel Notice)

The Milwaukee Health Department is recommending guidelines for individuals, businesses, and organizations to follow, as preventative measures.  They are:

  • All assisted living and long-term care facilities should follow CDC guidelines on environmental cleaning here: Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations.  By removing dirt and impurities including germs from surfaces it decreases the risk of spreading infection.
  • People at higher risk are encouraged to stay home and away from large groups of people as much as possible. Higher-risk individuals include:
    • People 60 and older.
    • People with underlying health conditions including heart disease lung disease or diabetes.
    • People with weakened/compromised immune systems.
  • Social distancing is encouraged. This means attempting to remain six feet away from other people and avoiding handshaking and other unnecessary contact.
  • Nonessential travel for all individuals is discouraged. Those planning trips should weigh the benefits of going versus not going.
  • Businesses should follow the CDC interim guidance which may help prevent workplace exposures to acute respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19, in non-healthcare settings.  This guidance also provides planning considerations if there are more widespread, community outbreaks of COVID-19 CDC Business Guidance.
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