How Wauwatosa is Prepared to Respond to COVID-19

Wauwatosa routinely plans, trains, and exercises with partner agencies on responses to pandemics or infectious diseases. We are monitoring developments related to COVID-19 as they happen. Learn about city services available online or by mail.


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Wauwatosa Health Department’s Role Related to COVID-19

Why the flu is more of a public health concern
Post Date:02/28/2020 11:00 AM

One of the most important ways we have to combat the spread of illness like COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is through education from reliable sources.

“It’s understandable that Wauwatosa residents are anxious about this virus,” says Health Officer Laura Conklin. “We want to share information about the virus, how our department responds locally, and what you can do to stay healthy.”

What is the COVID-19?

The coronavirus is a kind of common virus that causes an infection in your nose, sinuses, or upper throat. It could resemble a mild upper respiratory illness (like a common cold) to severe pneumonia.

While CDC considers this is a public health issue, “based on current information, the immediate health risk from COVID-19 to the general American public is considered low at this time.”

I'm sick. How do I know if it is coronavirus or something else, like the flu?

If you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have traveled to these affected areas - China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea - in the past two weeks or were in close contact with someone confirmed with COVID-19 in the 14 days before you began to feel sick, seek medical care. Before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room, call ahead and tell them about your recent travel and your symptoms. Please also notify your local health department.

Why the flu is more of a public health concern

According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19 has affected more than 82,294 people globally, causing over 2,800 deaths so far. To put that number in perspective, according to CDC estimates that so far this season there have been at least 29 million flu illnesses, 280,000 hospitalizations, and 16,000 deaths from flu.

Based on current information, the flu is much more widespread within the U.S. than this virus.

In addition to many doctor offices, pharmacies, and clinics, the Wauwatosa Health Department offers flu shots. Our immunization clinics are available several times a month. To determine your eligibility for vaccines or to schedule an appointment at our evening clinic, please call (414) 479-8936.

Wauwatosa’s role in public health

The Wauwatosa Health Department follows up on suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 (among other diseases).

  • We will continue to follow-up on all reportable communicable diseases in the community to control and prevent future spread of illness.  If any individual is suspected of having, or tests positive for COVID-19, we would work closely with the individual, the CDC and Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to limit the spread of the virus. 
  • We participate in conference calls with DHS on a weekly basis where we learn the latest information.  Health care providers and infection prevention from across the state are also on the call.
  • We are in contact with Wauwatosa healthcare providers, schools and other organizations, as needed, with the information they need to know about not only COVID-19, but also the many other reportable communicable diseases in Wisconsin.

Will I know if someone tested positive or is under investigation for COVID-19 in Wauwatosa?

Due to HIPAA protections, the Wauwatosa Health Department will never disclose whether an individual is suspected or confirmed of COVID-19 or any of the other reportable communicable diseases. It is during these very situations, when HIPAA privacy protections for all individuals affected are the most important.

What should I do now to protect my family?

  • Get your flu shot to protect against flu, which can produce symptoms similar to COVID-19.
  • Wash your hands with liquid soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or longer.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, sleeve, or arm.
  • Stay home if you are sick with any respiratory symptoms, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath, and are feeling tired.
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