Nearly 500 cases of COVID-19 were reported among people who attended an event in Milwaukee’s Deer District in July.
People were attending NBA games in the neighborhood throughout the month, and later celebrating the Milwaukee Bucks championship win.
According to data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 491 COVID-19 cases were linked to Deer District events in July.
The cases were among people who tested positive for COVID-19 and self-identified as having attended one of the events, Emily Tau, a spokeswoman for the Milwaukee Health Department, told The Epoch Times in an email.
“This doesn’t necessarily mean that they contracted the virus at the Deer District, as many also have visited bars, restaurants, parties, stores, etc., but just that they were in attendance and could have contracted or spread the virus at those events,” she said.
Health officials aren’t sure how many cases are tied directly to the NBA playoffs or the championship parade.
Fans attended games in Milwaukee during the playoffs indoors. Others crammed into the district to watch games in bars or restaurants or outside the stadium, where large monitors were set up and aired the action.
“We encourage anyone who has attended a large gathering, such as the watch party in the Deer District, get tested for COVID-19 due to the increased risk of transmission,” Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson told reporters during a virtual press conference on Tuesday.
“I think it’s important to recognize anytime there’s a large gathering of people, we’re going to see the virus spread. And that number is from the entire month of July. So it’s not linked directly to one day, the final game, it’s through the entire course of the month of July, and we’re still collecting data, so that number is likely to grow,” she added.
Many fans were not wearing masks despite the large crowds. Johnson said people should wear masks if in crowded spaces, even if they’re vaccinated, a nod to the rising number of breakthrough infections, or cases among the vaccinated. The unvaccinated should “think twice” before going to crowded areas.
Contact tracing and testing for cases linked to the district is ongoing.
The Milwaukee Bucks did not respond to a request for comment.
Milwaukee has five teams of 12 contact tracers but is planning on hiring more soon.
The cases identified so far are spread across the state, though the largest concentration is in Milwaukee and Waukesha County, officials said.
Johnson later described the number of cases linked to the district so far “not that significant,” especially when compared to the total number of cases in the state.
Wisconsin officials reported 1,000 new confirmed cases per day on average in the seven days leading up to Friday, with another 138 probable cases.
An average of two deaths per day was recorded.
COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.