Deer District Linked To Nearly 500 COVID-19 Cases
But correlation is not causation. Many Bucks fans went to other places on those nights.
Nearly 500 people that later tested positive for COVID-19 watched Milwaukee Bucks games outside in the Deer District or indoors at Fiserv Forum in the team’s run-up to winning the NBA championship on July 20.
Contract tracing interviews conducted by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services have identified 491 people that tested positive and admitted to being at a recent game or outside at the official watch party. And DHS knows it is likely undercounting cases because of limitations with people not responding to the contact tracers or not getting tested to confirm a case.
But the environment around Fiserv Forum was ripe for spreading the virus. People stood for long periods of time in close contact, often yelling. More than 100,000 people were estimated to be around the arena on July 20.
“I didn’t see half of the participants wearing a mask, which would be the recommended behavior for someone that isn’t vaccinated,” said DHS deputy secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk on July 22 during a media briefing. “I anticipate we will see additional cases as a result of those gatherings.”
“It makes a lot of sense for everybody to wear a mask in those situations,” she said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also changed its guidance as a result of the Delta variant and is now encouraging everyone, regardless of vaccination status, to wear a mask when indoors with members of different households in communities with substantial or high transmission.
And regardless of where people are contracting COVID-19, caseloads are surging exponentially.
The seven-day Milwaukee case burden now stands at 191.5 cases per 100,000 residents, a level that the CDC classifies as “extreme.” It was 9.8 on July 8, 25.9 on July 15, 50.7 on July 22, a level classified as “substantial” and 95.4 on July 29, nearly reaching the CDC threshold for “high.”
DHS and the Milwaukee Health Department are encouraging people to get vaccinated to protect not just themselves but others. But an effort by MHD to raffle off a pair of tickets to the final Bucks playoff game, available on the resale market for more than $1,000 each, to those getting vaccinated before the game, drew only 19 takers. DHS and Governor Tony Evers announced a Wisconsin State Fair promotion Wednesday morning that will give unvaccinated fairgoers a free cream puff if they get a shot.
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