MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett announced on Monday, March 23 that the city is issuing a "Stay at Home" order that will be in effect starting at midnight -- Wednesday morning, March 25. This comes ahead of an order Gov. Tony Evers issued that will take effect on Tuesday.
The mayor indicated that the city's order is modeled after those that are already in effect in other states.
"It is not an order telling you to shelter in place. This is important because what we are trying to do here is, we are trying to obviously create a safer community," the mayor said. "It is not to alarm anyone."
The mayor said officials are closely monitoring the growth of COVID-19 cases in the city and Milwaukee County. This order hopes to slow that growth.
"This is not issued to cause a rush on the grocery stores. You can still go to the grocery stores. That's very important," the mayor said. "You'll still be able to go out and take walks. You'll still be able to go for a jog if you want to go for a jog. What we're trying to do is send the message, a very strong message, an exclamation point, on what we've said before and what the governor is saying today about how serious this problem is."
"We're increasing at about 50 cases per day," said Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik. "We estimate that for every 50 cases that there is one death. So we have to do something."
Beginning Wednesday, the city of Milwaukee will enforce a "Stay at Home" order -- closing all non-essential businesses. It is a drastic measure, but one Mayor Barrett said is necessary.
"We are concerned about the number of hospital beds. The number of ventilators. The number of respirators that will be available," Barrett said. "The more people that get sick right now, the more that is going to create an ethical dilemma as to who is going to be entitled to have a respirator or ventilator."
Again, the mayor said everyone can still work if their job is essential -- and everyone can get groceries, go to the doctor, even go for a walk if they practice social distancing.
"It is one of the most effective ways to slow this down," Kowalik said.
"The more we can concentrate our efforts-- our community efforts into defeating this -- the faster our normal lives can get back to order," Barrett said.
According to the health commissioner, a majority of people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Milwaukee live on the city's north side. The health department is sending outreach teams into those neighborhoods to provide more education.