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Health officials urge testing after large gatherings in Deer District

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Over the last week, the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases per day in Wisconsin, is now the highest it's been since May.

Some health experts have cautioned huge gatherings throughout the Milwaukee Bucks' NBA title run did not help and community leaders were back out Saturday still trying to make it easy to get vaccinated.

"In terms of the Bucks event, there are a lot of people there and sometimes with celebratory events, sometimes we let our guard down," said Ruben Anthony, President and CEO of the Urban League of Greater Madison.

Health officials who helped with a pop-up vaccine clinic at the Urban League's unity picnic Saturday warned now is the time to be more resilient.

"What people want and desire is being back together and if we want to get there in a safe and healthy way, people need to get vaccinated," said SSM Health Manager of Clinical Operations Kesha Bozeman,.

For the past month, the Deer District has hosted several Bucks watch parties and a parade drawing hundreds of thousands of fans.

"I went [to the Deer District] for Game 5 while they were playing Phoenix," said Kwame Hill. "It was pretty packed. There were 25,000 people."

Concerns that the watch parties and parade may have been super-spreader events and the Delta variant becoming the dominant strain have prompted more people to get tested.

"This week, we've seen an increase in testing compared to the last two weeks," Sara Schwartz, Supervisor for Public Health Madison and Dane County. "I don't know if that's because of what happened to Milwaukee, but also Delta spreads a lot faster."

"Our partners at Dane County Public Health and County Public Health are doing COVID testing on Saturday, they share that of the tests that they have done, 80% have tested positive for COVID," Bozeman added.

Trista Whitehorse said she also went to Milwaukee to watch Game 5 in the Deer District while the Bucks were playing in Phoenix.

"It was busy, crowded packed," she said.

The NBA Finals and celebrations have drawn large crowds but some people say they're less anxious about the coronavirus because of their vaccination status.

"I felt safe because I've been vaccinated," Whitehorse said. "But the thought definitely crossed my mind being in a crowd with so many people for the first time in a long time."

The CDC still warns COVID-19 symptoms can start showing 2-14 days after exposure to the virus.
Those symptoms include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and fatigue.

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Rhonda Foxx

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