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Hundreds of new coronavirus cases could be linked to Bucks’ NBA championship run

Huge crowd of fans gathered for NBA game
Fans gather for Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns on July 20 in Milwaukee.
(Angela Peterson / Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

Health officials in Wisconsin have identified nearly 500 coronavirus cases statewide that could be linked to the large crowds that gathered in downtown Milwaukee as fans cheered on the Bucks’ run to the NBA championship.

Milwaukee Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson says contact tracing and testing for cases associated with those gatherings continues with the help of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Officials said 491 people with confirmed or probable cases of the coronavirus said they had gone to Milwaukee’s Deer District or attended a Bucks game there “during their exposure or infectious periods.” But the Wisconsin DHS could not say definitively that they had caught the coronavirus while viewing the game downtown or elsewhere.

In addition to the games, tens of thousands of fans packed the Deer District to cheer on the Bucks last month.

The increase comes as a growing list of municipalities, businesses and venues are moving to require the shots for employees and, in some cases, customers.

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“I think it is important to recognize that any time there is a large gathering of people, we are going to see the virus spread,” Johnson said at a Tuesday briefing.

Officials also raised concerns about statewide hospitalization rates, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

“We have four times as many people hospitalized with COVID in Wisconsin as we did one month ago, from 74 individuals to 310 today,” Dr. Ben Weston, director of medical services at the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, said during the briefing.

Johnson said she had spoken with multiple entertainment venues about potentially requiring proof of vaccination or a negative coronavirus test to attend events.


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