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Health officials: Family gatherings, birthday parties, bbq’s are COVID-19 hot spots

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Janel Heinrich, Director – Public Health Madison & Dane County

DANE COUNTY (WKOW) -- Family gatherings are partially to blame for the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, health officials said Wednesday.

However recent large protests and demonstrations are not.

Dane County officials say a lack of adherence to public health guidelines is behind the order that went into effect Thursday to put new restrictions on bars, restaurants and public gatherings.

Bars are of particular concern because groups of people are mixing and bars are often loud spaces that require loud talking to communicate (which can spread infectious droplets farther), 

According to Public Health Madison & Dane County, contact tracers reaching those who have tested positive for COVID-19 have found that they are mostly hanging out at bars and getting together with family and friends.

At a Thursday morning news conference, health officials broke down which activities have, and have not, contributed to community spread of COVID-19.

According to Janel Heinrich, Director – Public Health Madison & Dane County, family gatherings, indoor and outdoor birthday parties, barbecues are the leading issues when it's not associated with a bar.

She also said there is little evidence that recent protests have added to the rise in COVID-19 numbers.

"The numbers that indicate they have been at a protest or demonstration are extremely small," Heinrich said. "I believe it's ony 12 folks who have an association -- remember these are associations, and not causations.

Heinrich said they will keep a close eye on activities at bars.

"We can't be in every bar at every time. We take complaints.  We follow up. And then if we can't get corrective action, we will be writing citations," she said.

Citations could be issued, officials said.

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Dan Plutchak

Social Media and Digital Content Manager, 27 News

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