As part of a regular COVID screening routine, Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson announced on January 2 that his at-home test showed a positive result. He also reminded the public to remain vigilant against spreading the virus.

Mayor Johnson’s original vaccination process was reported on my local news outlets, to encourage the Milwaukee public to become fully vaccinated. He later followed up with a booster shot, and routinely wears a mask in public settings.

In his January 2 statement, Mayor Johnson said that others in his family have tested negative, and that he feels fine with only mild symptoms. Even with strict health safety precautions, the Omicron variant has accelerated the spread of COVID-19 over the past couple months.

It also shows that COVID vaccines work, but the messaging around “breakthrough” infections is often misunderstood. Receiving a vaccination and a booster does not guarantee that individuals can stop worrying about contracting the virus.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that the risk of a COVID infection is eight times higher in the unvaccinated than in the vaccinated. The risk of hospitalization or death in the unvaccinated population is also 25 times higher.

Johnson said that he will continue to fulfill his Mayoral duties from home, and follow the recommendations from the City of Milwaukee Health Department for people who have tested positive. He also released a public statement reminding residents that the pandemic is far from over.

“I have encouraged Milwaukeeans to get vaccinated throughout this pandemic. Now, my own breakthrough case of COVID-19 again compels me to urge our residents to treat this viral threat seriously and take the steps necessary to protect our greater community.

The number one thing that all of us should do is to get vaccinated. If you’re already fully vaccinated, get your booster shot. I’m experiencing mild symptoms because I took these precautions. Everyone in my immediate family who is eligible for vaccination has been vaccinated.

When in public settings in the city (and elsewhere for that matter), please make sure to follow the City of Milwaukee Health Department’s masking advisory. Update masks to the more effective KN95 masks rather than simple cloth masks for better protection.

Continue to practice safe hand hygiene by thoroughly washing hands with water and soap. Hand washing is a key mitigation effort that should not be overlooked.

If you feel sick, get tested. If you test for COVID-19 at home and the result is positive, treat it as such and enter into isolation and safety protocols. Our dedicated staff members are working hard to provide this service so let’s help by not overburdening their efforts.

Let’s be mindful that there are those in our community who may be exempt for religious or medical reasons. But for the rest of us, we’ve got a duty to protect ourselves, our families, our friends, our coworkers, and our community.

Let’s also remember that there are kids in our city who are not yet eligible for vaccination. I have two at home. To best protect them, we need the adults in their lives to step up to fight this pandemic using the best tool that we have at our disposal, which is vaccination.

All of us want this pandemic to be over but it isn’t over yet. To keep hospital beds open for folks who really need them, to not burn out our health and medical staff and, to protect our community and especially our children, get vaccinated.”

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Lee Matz

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.
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