In case you hadn’t noticed, Rock County just came off its worst COVID-19 week so far.
We’re pretty sure the Green Bay Packers get some of the blame.
On Monday, Rock County reported its highest number of new and active coronavirus infections, its highest number of COVID-19 hospitalizations and its highest test positivity rate.
County epidemiologist Nick Zupan told reporter Ashley McCallum on Wednesday that cases are soaring among school-age kids, who often are contracting the virus outside of school and then exposing classmates.
“I don’t know with schools being open if there is some kind of change in mentality in terms of people feeling more relaxed about getting together or being outside of the house,” Zupan said.
Data shows children have been more likely to contract the virus at an event outside of school than in the classroom, Zupan said.
“I was surprised when looking at our data that so many people are reporting going to parties and gatherings,” he said.
Enter the Green Bay Packers.
Who doesn’t enjoy sipping a Leinenkugel’s and yelling at the television while the Packers eviscerate their opponents? The Green and Gold are off to a sizzling start, providing a welcome and uplifting distraction from the smothering restrictions imposed because of the coronavirus.
And it’s more fun yelling at the television with others.
That’s the problem, we fear.
Whether it’s to cheer on a Green Bay victory or celebrate a birthday, too many people are eschewing masks while gathering and spreading the coronavirus.
This comes in the same week when Wisconsin courts are deciding whether to strike down Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate (a St. Croix County judge on Tuesday let the mask mandate stand) or to sweep away the governor’s order limiting gatherings at bars, restaurants and other indoor spaces to 25% of capacity (a Sawyer County judge on Wednesday struck down those restrictions).
Meanwhile, we’re all sick of staying home, not seeing friends, not hanging out at our usual haunts. COVID fatigue is real.
But so are the consequences.
Zupan said a positivity rate—the percentage of COVID-19 tests that come back positive—above 10% is “concerning.”
If so, then what do you call Rock County positivity rates of 91% (Thursday), 44% (Wednesday), 65% (Tuesday) or 83% (Monday)? Are those terrifying? Paralyzing? Mortifying?
We fear too many Rock County residents view those numbers as unreliable, exaggerated or political. Some of those deniers will be in the crowd Saturday when President Donald Trump, the unmasker in chief, visits the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport for a campaign rally. If the crowds who attended recent Rock County visits by Vice President Mike Pence and Trump son Eric are any indication, then many of the people at Saturday’s rally will show naked faces.
As Rock County Board Chairwoman Kara Purviance said in an Oct. 1 statement: “It is irresponsible of the president to hold a rally that will put Rock County citizens in danger of contracting and spreading the virus.”
Our advice: Wear your mask. Wash your hands. Limit gatherings.
Cheer on the Packers alone.