Milwaukee Co. marks 3 years since first COVID-19 cases, but many say it's far from over

NOW: Milwaukee Co. marks 3 years since first COVID-19 cases, but many say it’s far from over

MILWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58)-- Three years ago this Tuesday, the first several COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Milwaukee County. For many, 2023 kicked off with a so-called 'new normal,' but for others, the virus is still very much present, and alive.

On March 14, 2020, four COVID-19 cases were confirmed in the area. The world seemed to be turning upside down, as the Coronavirus began spreading like wildfire, causing mandatory lockdowns to take place.

Many people are still living with that fear, especially those who are immunocompromised and cannot take the risk of not wearing a mask out in public. 

"Some people feel like they cannot do what they did before, so we've had people who were very physically fit, who were able to run marathons, who can hardly cross their house," said Dr. Julie Biller, Pulmonologist at Froedtert & The Medical College of Wisconsin.

"Focusing on the good news that the majority of people do get better, it's...for some people, it's a very slow recovery," she added.

Biller is the medical director at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin's Post-COVID Multispecialty Clinic, which opened in Jan. 2021, specifically for patients who still had lingering covid symptoms.

"A lot of those symptoms are feeling short of breath, having chest discomfort, chest pain, complaining about poor concentration, and fatigue--they commonly use a term of 'brain fog'," said Dr. Biller.

Although Milwaukee County is now considered 'low-risk' in terms of contagiousness, Dr. Biller said she still sees about 40 to 50 patients with long COVID a month.

"I was hoping by this point that we would be not needing the clinic and that we would be phasing it out, but we're really not quite ready for that," she said.

About 458 new COVID cases are confirmed in Wisconsin on a weekly basis. Chief Health Policy Advisor Ben Weston said there seems to be a silver lining but staying up-to-date with vaccines is key.

"We're seeing that impact diminishing over the last few months and hopefully we can maintain that trend," said Dr. Weston. "Now, nonetheless, COVID remains one of the leading causes of death in our country, it's largely among medically vulnerable folks, and that's why that booster is so important."

Health experts say if you're fully vaccinated (this includes the booster shot), then it's less likely you will develop long COVID symptoms. Moreover, remaining extra careful can never be a bad thing.

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