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March 13, 2020 


Administrative Orders will be implemented around paid leave and travel to provide employees with a financial safety net and to prioritize the health and safety of residents served by Milwaukee County

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele today issued a proclamation declaring a local public health emergency due to COVID-19. COVID-19 is expected to impact all communities, and Milwaukee County is taking immediate preventative steps out of an abundance of caution to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“Our top priority is to keep Milwaukee County residents and visitors safe, and we will use every tool and resource at our disposal to ensure we continue our efforts to be the healthiest county in Wisconsin,” said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele. “We are issuing Administrative Orders to provide our employees with the tools they need to best serve our residents and protect our community. From our airport to our zoo, everyone at Milwaukee County is putting their full weight behind ensuring we are prepared for COVID-19.”

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) determined COVID-19 will affect public health and efforts must be taken to prevent its spread. The proclamation provides Milwaukee County the necessary tools to act expediently in response to the virus.

“We will continue to monitor the situation and provide all resources necessary to respond,” said Director of the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management Christine Westrich. “We are partnering with the city and state to prepare and respond as the virus spreads and will continue to communicate fully with Milwaukee County residents as we move forward.”

Effective immediately, two Administrative Orders will be implemented for Milwaukee County employees.

The Supplemental Paid Leave (SPL) Administrative Order applies to all employees and provides a separate bank of hours to use in response to COVID-19. All full-time, part-time, seasonal and hourly workers will be granted a minimum of 40 hours of SPL Bank time to use. While there are common-sense limitations to accessing the SPL Bank hours, this measure will provide a financial safety net to make it easier for employees to be able to stay home when necessary. Employees will adhere to departmental procedures consistent with taking time off in any other situation.

The Travel Administrative Order, which follows the recommendation of federal public health authorities, restricts out-of-state travel for Milwaukee County employees effective immediately and until otherwise directed. Any employee that is currently traveling or elects to travels out of state must self-quarantine for 14 days upon return.

“We continue to actively monitor the spread of COVID-19 closely while we work to ensure our public health response is in line with the seriousness of this virus,” said the Emergency Medical Services Medical Director for Milwaukee County Dr. Ben Weston. “Out of an abundance of caution, we are taking serious, necessary steps to ensure we are prepared to work efficiently and effectively if and when this is at our doorstep. This is not a time for panic, but rather for preparation.”

Milwaukee County departments provide essential needs and services to residents and are taking the necessary stringent steps to ensure their health and safety is the top priority. Many departments will cancel or reschedule upcoming public events and will continue to communicate these preventative measures on an ongoing basis.

The Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is actively planning to ensure services and programs can continue without interruption. DHHS is following recommendations from the CDC on preventative measures and will continue to update frontline providers, agencies and staff.

The Milwaukee County Department on Aging (MCDA) has postponed all social programming at Milwaukee-County owned senior centers and will continue providing congregate meal programming at these sites.

MCTS has proactively implemented an extra daily disinfecting process on all buses using EPA-approved and CDC-recommended cleaning products in addition to the standard cleaning that vehicles receive on a regular basis.

The airport, together with airlines and airport tenants, has instituted enhanced cleaning procedures and are following all guidance from the CDC and the Milwaukee Health Department.

Milwaukee County Parks has posted information detailing the preventative actions recommended by the CDC have been posted throughout Park facilities, hand sanitizer has been made widely available, and healthy habits like frequent handwashing are encouraged.

The Zoo continues to perform regular cleaning and disinfecting using products with high-kill factors. There are additional alcohol-based hand sanitizers throughout the zoo, as well as additional sanitary wipes available in highly trafficked areas.

While the latest available information suggests that person-to-person spread will continue to occur and additional cases are likely to be identified in the United States, most cases of COVID-19 cause a mild illness. In more rare cases, specifically older and more immunocompromised individuals, the illness may be more severe. 

It is recommended that residents continue to take preventative actions that can prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including handwashing or using hand sanitizer; staying home when sick and wearing a facemask if around other people; and covering cough and sneezes.  If suffering from flu-like symptoms, residents should seek medical attention if the illness worsens (e.g., difficulty breathing).  Call ahead before visiting your doctor so the healthcare provider can take steps to keep others from getting infected.  Dialing 9-1-1 should be reserved for medical emergencies; this will allow our first responders to remain in-service for those in most critical need.

Wisconsin declared a public health emergency in response to local cases of COVID-19. In response to local cases, local officials will take extensive efforts to contain the spread of the virus. Milwaukee County departments and divisions will continue to follow the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as the virus continues to be tracked nationally.

This is a rapidly evolving situation and information will be updated as it becomes available.  More information can be found on the CDC COVID-19 homepage and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services COVID-19 homepage.



(414) 278-4211 | fax: (414) 223-1375
Milwaukee County Courthouse, Room 306
901 N. 9th Street | Milwaukee, WI 53233

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