MILWAUKEE— COVID-19 cases are falling in Milwaukee County but transmission levels remain high.
At the weekly county COVID-19 briefing, Chief Health Policy Advisor Dr. Ben Weston said he thinks we are past the omicron peak.
He didn’t rule out the omicron subvariant BA.2 could slow down the decline, but doesn’t believe it will have the same impact as the original strain of omicron.
Interim Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said efforts to raise vaccination rates are improving.
He explained that if case numbers continue to fall and vaccination rates rise, officials could revisit the city’s mask mandate.
“As our trends continue to head downward, the common council as well as the health department, will be in contact about if it’s appropriate to remove it and if that determination is made, then I’m happy to review that when it comes to my desk,” said Johnson.
Leaders noted their recent vaccine incentive is bringing results. Those eligible, which includes anyone ages five and older, who receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine at any Milwaukee Health Department vaccination clinic will receive the gift card on site. More than 250,000 Milwaukee residents are eligible. They have given out more than 900 of the 1,000 allotted.
In conjunction with their push to get people vaccinated, county officials also wanted to focus on how the vaccine imoacts pregnancy, as pregnant women have been particularly affected by the pandemic.
Weston highlighted studies that have shown the vaccine does not affect fertility nor pregnancy outcomes. Contrastingly, being unvaccinated could produce worse outcomes.
Dr. Fatima Ali who is an OB-GYN director at Ascension St. Joseph added that pregnant women with COVID-19 were twice as likely to go to the ICU and saw a 70% increase in risk of death if they weren't vaccinated.
She also said the decision to get vaccinated while she was pregnant was something she thought long and hard about last year.
"I spoke with my physicians and I made an informed decision to the vaccine during pregnancy. The antibodies that were generated in my body and it protected her from COVID-19," Ali said.