Alison Dirr and Mary Spicuzza, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
The majority of confirmed coronavirus cases in the city of Milwaukee involve middle-aged African American men, Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said Monday.
Kowalik did not offer a specific number or percentage but said the majority of the city's confirmed cases — 158 in total as of Monday afternoon — are middle-aged African American men.
The first three Milwaukee patients reported to have died after contracting coronavirus were all African American men in their 50s or 60s. The men who died had underlying conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) or heart problems.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said a lot of the people who have tested positive in Milwaukee, particularly on the city's north side, had not traveled abroad.
Health officials are working on "communicating as fast as we can and as deeply as we can into these neighborhoods to let people know that this is not just about people who had been in China," Barrett said. "This is about something that's here right now."
Kowalik said officials are concerned that the initial focus on coronavirus cases in other countries and its connection to overseas travel gave many people the perception that coronavirus wouldn't affect them.
The thinking was, she said, "'I'm not going there,' or 'I don't know anyone that goes there' and 'I'm not traveling, so I don't have to worry about it.'"