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72 got COVID-19 after being at large event

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Posted at 1:09 PM, May 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-09 14:09:58-04

MADISON — More than 70 people who tested positive for the coronavirus since an April 24 rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol indicated they had attended a large gathering, but the state Department of Health Services can't say if they were at the rally because it is not tracking specific events.

Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Goodsitt said Friday that when someone tests positive for COVID-19 they are asked if they attended any large gatherings. But the department did not add the April 24 rally, which attracted about 1,500 people, to the list of specific questions.

The department did add a question after the April 7 election to determine if people had been at the polls. As of Thursday, 67 people who were tested positive for COVID-19 had also reported being at the polls. But because many of them had other exposures, health officials have not been able to conclusively determine where they caught the virus.

The rally was organized and attended by people who oppose the state's “safer at home” order and want to allow more businesses to reopen sooner than would be currently allowed. The order expires on May 26.

Capitol Police did not grant a permit for the rally because it went against the stay-at-home order, which prohibits public gatherings of any size. Many of those in attendance did not maintain a 6-foot distance from others, or wear masks or other protective gear.

The state health department said there have been 1,986 confirmed cases where onset or diagnosis happened on or after April 26. Of those, 72 people reported attending a large gathering.

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