Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley reached out to State and Federal officials on May 14 to support funding for Milwaukee County’s response to COVID-19, which has disproportionately impacted Milwaukee County residents.

Milwaukee County has already seen an estimated $450 million impact on the budget, including through direct costs in COVID-19 related response and lost revenue.

The County has been on the frontlines of the response to the pandemic, providing critical emergency management, public health and human services, and infrastructure.

“Milwaukee County and its employees are on the front lines of our community’s response to COVID-19, providing the critical emergency management and direct services, which are essential in a crisis, to all 19 Milwaukee County municipalities, and their residents,” said County Executive Crowley. “The costs of providing critical services related to the COVID-19 pandemic are staggering and intensified by the economic slowdown, causing significant strain on an already strapped County budget. In total, Milwaukee County could face a $450 million impact on its budget through new costs and lost revenue.”


  • $40 million in direct costs: PPE, overtime, Unified Emergency Operations Center, Telework, Temporary Morgue, Cleaning and Sanitation, Temporary Homeless Shelter, etc.
  • $100 million lost revenues by end of 2020: Sales tax, property taxes, program revenues (zoo, parks), airport, and transit.
  • $450 million in overall costs: Includes recovery and reopening
  • $60 million in cost savings and cuts: 774 Furloughs, hiring and contract freezes, leverage contingency fund, debt service fund, and significantly reduced or eliminated capital projects.

The County’s existing structural deficit will continue to grow, leading to a drastic impact on both the County’s immediate ability to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and its ongoing ability to provide the services that County residents depend on. While the demand for services is skyrocketing, the ability to pay for them has plummeted.

The County serves nearly 1 million people with a range of programs, including aging services for the elderly, emergency medical services, behavioral health services, housing resources, and public safety. The services are specifically necessary to respond and protect residents during a crisis.

The Milwaukee Independent began reporting on what was then referred to as the mysterious “Wuhan Virus” in January 2020. Other local media did not picked-up on the story until many weeks later. Our early features focused on the economic impact, social issues, and health concerns long before other Milwaukee news organizations even mentioned the coronavirus. Over the following year, we have published hundreds of articles about the pandemic and how it has affected the lives of Milwaukee residents. This extensive body of work can be found on our COVID-19 Special Report page, a chronological index of links by month. Our editorial voice remains dedicated to informing the public about this health crisis for as long as it persists.
For medical resources, please visit the CDC’s COVID-19 page or the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. All editorial content published by Milwaukee Independent can be found at With a mission of transformative journalism, our staff is free from commercial bias and are not influenced by corporate interests, political affiliations, or a public preferences that rewards clicks with revenue. As an influential publication that provides Milwaukee with quality journalism, our award-winning photojournalism and features have helped to achieve a range of positive social impact that enriches our community. Please join our effort by entrusting us with your contribution. Your Support Matters - Donate Now