JVG_201027_SPREADER

Supporters listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport on Oct. 17 in Janesville.

The Rock County Public Health Department has not yet identified any local events as COVID-19 “superspreaders,” said Jessica Turner, spokeswoman for the department.

She also said it is too early to say if an Oct. 17 rally held by President Donald Trump in Janesville will be identified as a superspreader event.

The rally is one of Rock County’s largest public events in recent months, despite warnings from health officials nationwide to avoid gatherings to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Many local residents have predicted the event would be a “superspreader,” meaning many people would become infected while at the rally.

It is still too soon to tell because it can take up to two weeks after infection for people to show symptoms and decide to get tested, Turner said.

The rally was at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport. Thousands of people attended and many waited in line for hours beforehand.

A superspreader event is identified as an event where the virus was transmitted to a large number of people or a number of people that is larger than would be expected relative to the size of the event, Turner said.

Health department officials analyze data collected by contact tracers to identify where the virus might have spread, Turner said.

If the department identifies a superspreader, officials likely would contact the event organizer and put out a news release to inform people who might have attended, Turner said.

“We want to make sure those who have not been tested are aware of the high risk of the virus (if a superspreader is identified),” Turner said.

Identifying a super spreader could be difficult because some people choose not to tell contact tracers where they have been, and contact tracers are so overwhelmed that some contact tracing interviews might not be as thorough as desired, Turner said.

The department is always reviewing its processes and looking for ways to get more information without sacrificing efficiency, Turner said.

The best way to ease contact tracers’ workloads would be to slow the spread of the virus, Turner said.

Rock County continues to see negative COVID-19 trends. On Monday, 189 new cases were reported, tied for the second-highest daily positive case return so far.

Of test results reported Monday, 44% were positive.

There are 1,746 active and confirmed cases of the virus in Rock County. The all-time total is 4,923, according to county data.

There are 37 people hospitalized with the disease in Rock County. Forty-two county residents have died.

Turner said people need to be following guidelines such as wearing masks, staying home when possible and social distancing when around others.

“The course of the pandemic is dependent on whether we are adhering to the guidance,” Turner said.

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