Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks and Green Bay Packers games and college sporting events. Summerfest and major ethnic festivals. The Democratic National Convention. All the way down to church festivals. Our city and state loves to get together for major events, particularly in warm weather. But almost every single event has been either canceled or postponed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, altering our ways of life.
A large number of public health officials such as Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm are warning that this will continue to be the new norm in our society until medicine creates a vaccine or an ability to treat COVID-19.
“It is certainly safe to say, absent of vaccine and treatment that mass gatherings are going to be risky. The virus is going to continue to circulate,” she warned during a question-and-answer session Thursday.
“The more people you expose in mass gatherings and large settings, the more people it could spread to.”
No major mass gatherings currently remain on the Wisconsin calendar until August at the earliest, including:
– The Wisconsin State Fair (still scheduled for August 6-16)
– The Democratic National Convention (postponed until August 17)
Most ethnic festivals on the Summerfest grounds have been canceled, as have July 4 events, and there is no word on when major professional or collegiate sports will return. Summerfest has been delayed until three successive weekends in September, beginning with the Thursday through Saturday before Labor Day. The Ryder Cup is still scheduled for September, but possibly without fans present.
Most estimates say it will take at least months, perhaps beyond a full year until a vaccine is developed. The New York Times says that 89 different groups are working on a vaccine, but there is the problem of distributing such a vaccine.
What this means is that the only way we can slow the virus from spreading is by staying at least six feet away from each other, along with other proper personal protective measures.
And you typically can’t stay that far away from each other on the Lambeau Field or Camp Randall Stadium bleachers or while dancing on a table in front of your favorite band at Summerfest.
“Until there’s a vaccine or treatment that works, there’s nothing stopping the spread except for our own behaviors,” Palm warned.
“Social distancing, physical distancing continue to be the main tools we will have.”