Health officials worried about Bucks celebration COVID-19 surge

Tens of thousands of people packed into the Deer District Tuesday and Thursday.
Published: Jul. 22, 2021 at 2:26 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 22, 2021 at 6:11 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV/AP) - State health officials expressed concern Thursday about an increase in COVID-19 cases resulting from the large crowds that formed Tuesday night and Thursday afternoon as the Milwaukee Bucks fans celebrated the team’s first championship in a half-century.

Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk predicted a coming spike in cases. Authorities estimated 100,000 people jammed into the Deer District following Game 6 of the NBA Finals earlier this week. Tens of thousands then gathered along the streets of Milwaukee on Thursday for the championship parade and another celebration in the Deer District.

Van Dijk noted that half of Wisconsin residents are not fully vaccinated, adding that she “assume(s) the same is true for people in the Deer District and the arena. And, I didn’t see half the crowd masked.” She did however preface her comments with a “Go Bucks Go,” indicating she understood how fans felt.

During Thursday’s event, Bucks superstar and NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo wore a mask while on a crowded stage, taking it off right before addressing fans.

Kirk Carley, of Milwaukee, right, holds up a deer statue during a parade celebrating the...
Kirk Carley, of Milwaukee, right, holds up a deer statue during a parade celebrating the Milwaukee Bucks' NBA Championship basketball team Thursday, July 22, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)(Aaron Gash | AP)


Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is urging anyone age 12 or older who will be attending school in the fall to get vaccinated as soon as possible for COVID-19, as cases surge in the state due to the more contagious delta variant.

The call from Evers and the state’s top health official on Thursday comes amid a growing concern in Wisconsin and nationally about growing numbers of COVID-19 cases.

In Wisconsin, the seven-day average of new confirmed cases was 242 as of Thursday, which was three times as high as two-and-a-half weeks ago. Only people 12 and older can get vaccinated.

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