Don’t gather to watch Badger games, Dane Co. health officials warn

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 5:27 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Do not gather to watch Badger games this fall.

That’s the simple message coming from Dane Co. health officials, just hours after the Big Ten reversed course and announced an abbreviated football season would kick off late next month.

“We’ve already seen a record number of cases from the UW campus just from students moving in,” said Joe Parisi, Dane County Executive. “While we all love our football Saturdays, the festivities that come with them are going to serve as new spreading events within our community.”

In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, Public Health Madison Dane County warned, because so many University of Wisconsin students and fans enjoy coming together to watch the games, this upcoming season will likely cause COVID-19 to spread even further among students and across Dane County, in general.

“Right now, the increase in COVID-19 cases we are seeing are largely concentrated among UW students,” City of Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway said. “But increases in cases due to Badger football tailgating and partying could be more widespread.”

PHMDC conceded it has no ability to control what happens on campus, including at Camp Randall Stadium. However, the agency noted, its Emergency Order #9, limiting the size of gatherings, is in effect outside the stadium and health officials will continue to work with the Madison Police Department to make sure it is followed.

PHMDC added that its concern extend to everyone on the field, as well as the ones off of it. Its statement

pointed out 42 players and staff on the football team have already tested positive for COVID-19. While it acknowledges most athletes do recover, it cites new evidence and research showing long-term health issues can persist.

“(T)he reality is that it’s not possible to have a traditional football season without substantially increasing COVID-19 transmission,” Public Health Madison & Dane County Director Janel Heinrich said, adding her agency "value(s) people’s health and lives over sports, and we hope that UW does as well.

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