WEST ALLIS — As State Fair organizers are encouraging attendees to do what they feel is safe, many people felt differently about being back in large crowds as COVID-19 cases spike.
Carrie McFarland was visiting the fair for the first time, traveling all the way from Mississippi. While she is fully vaccinated, she walked in with two masks.
"You can cough, sneeze, it's just the responsible thing to do, and until you lose someone very close to you, then it becomes real and then you'll know," said McFarland.
A chilling reality that Wayne Waltman is also dealing with. Waltman is fully vaccinated and had his mask in his back pocket just in case the crowds were to get tight. Currently, his close friend is dealing with COVID-19.
"We just found out he's been in the hospital for five days because of COVID, and he didn't have the shot now, and he's going to have to come home with oxygen. Now he regrets not having the shot," said Waltman.
On Thursday, the Milwaukee Health Department reported 1,566 new cases. This has been the largest jump since January. Currently, there are 388 hospital cases. The State Fair has yet to set any capacity limits or mask/vaccine requirements, but they say they are ready to pivot should cases continue to move upwards.
"We're always monitoring, you know, the science and the data and staying connected to that. If there was anything, we would make sure to make sure our fair-goers know the news," said Jen Puenta, Chief Marketing Officer at the Wisconsin State Fair Park.
However, not all are worried.
"Do I fear? Not really, because I still kind of keep my distance, we're not really close to anybody, we just stand in groups. I'm not vaccinated, I just pray, pray, every day," said fair-goer, Angela Wilder.
The on-sight vaccine clinic will run for the next 11 days until the fair ends. On Thursday, they administered 33 doses of COVID-19 vaccines.