MILWAUKEE — With Milwaukee's festival season in full swing, we are now seeing a surge of new COVID-19 cases.
This weekend marked a successful Bastille Days celebration, the first after two years. Thousands flocked to Cathedral Square to bask in French food, music and culture.
“I already had some chicken fried rice at the Asian shop and now I’m debating if I’m going to the prime rib shop over here,” said Daniel Shotwell, a Bastille Days attendee.
“This is my favorite festival. Absolute favorite,” added Faye Smith, another attendee.
The couple Denny and Faye Smith got out to enjoy Bastille Days and celebrate an anniversary. They both understand the reality that COVID-19 is still out there and precautions need to be taken.
“I have an autoimmune disease. I’m all vaccinated but I just want to keep myself safe,” Smith said.
Across town, there was a city-wide memorial for those no longer with us. A COVID-19 vigil was held in Washington Park.
It marked an opportunity for solidarity, unity and resilience while reflecting on the effects of the pandemic.
“One of the things we realized, that there has not been an opportunity for all of us to come together in a show of support,” said Janan Najeeb, President of Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition.
Gov. Tony Evers was also present, acknowledging the one million lives lost to COVID over the last two and a half years. 15,000 of those were from Wisconsin.
“You know, 15,000 people. That’s the size of a good-sized town in Wisconsin,” Evers said. “But it’s more than numbers. Think about 15,000 people that left their loved ones behind and their neighbors and friends and how that 15,000 really took the heart out of our state.”
Milwaukee County moved into the CDC’s "high" level of COVID-19 community spread on July 14.
Daniel Shotwell, with his mask handy at Bastille Days, said he wants people to keep their masks to help slow the spread and keep that milestone death toll number from increasing.
“You should have a mask anyway. You can just carry it in your pocket. But if you got to wear your mask, just wear your mask, man,” he said.