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Criticism grows for annual Sand Bar Bash event

Published: Aug. 3, 2020 at 4:44 PM CDT
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LAKE BUTTE DES MORTS, Wis. (WBAY) -The Governor’s mask mandate, requiring people to wear a mask when indoors took effect on August first. Since then, Action 2 News has received emails, phone calls and social media messages from people concerned the mandate isn’t being followed. Sheriffs across our area say they won’t enforce it. But, one event, held just hours after the order went into effect has drawn a lot of criticism, the question remains, did it violate any order.

There's a big difference between the court of public opinion and the court of law, and despite a lot of community anger over the annual Sand Bar Bash on Lake Butte des Morts, the event didn't violate the Governor's mask order because masks are only required when inside and the sand bar bash was outside

Screenshots of pictures and video, shared on social media as well as with us, show large crowds of people enjoying the annual Sand Bar Bash, held this past Saturday on Lake Butte des Morts. As the images of people appearing to not be socially distancing or wearing mask spread on the internet, the Sand Bar Bash Facebook page was disabled. The live video feed of the event also disappeared as some of the public became more angry with the images they were seeing.

Wayne Pettit, who is listed as the registered agent for Sand Bar Bash LLC, the organization that puts on the event hasn't returned our calls or messages.

And, the Winnebago County Health Department, in response to our request to talk with someone about this large event, only released a statement to Action 2 News. Attributed to Doug Gieryn, Director/Health Officer for the Winnebago County Health Department the statrment said,

"In regards to reports of a Sandbar Bash on Lake Butte des Morts this weekend, the Winnebago County Health Department encourages anyone who has attended a gathering or event with people from outside of their household, where actions were not taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19, to monitor for symptoms and limit contact with others for 14 days from the event. Per the CDC, asymptomatic cases account for 40% of COVID-19 cases, which makes wearing a mask and social distancing even more critical to reducing the spread of the virus.

We all have to work together as a community to help prevent this virus from overwhelming our local resources. Following masking, distancing and handwashing guidance will help keep our most vulnerable residents safe, our businesses open and our schools able to start in-person learning.”

The health department also said that wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and proper hand washing will protect the most vulnerable people in our population as well as keep our businesses open and lead to students returning to in-person learning in schools. Those precautions are obviously up to each and every one of us to follow to prevent the continued spread of COVID-19.

According to the health department, although they have received a number of phone calls and messages from community members since the event happened, the event organizer won’t be cited in any way for holding or promoting the event.

When asked about contact tracing if a number of cases are connected back to the Sand Bar Bash, the Winnebago County Health Department says the tracing does become more difficult when a positive cases has a larger social circle, and why keeping a small social circle is a strategy for lowering the spread of COVID-19. Their goal is to reach out to all close contacts to a positive case within 24 hours from learning of the positive test.

The Health Department also said they aren’t aware of the actions the organizers took to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among participants when asked if they believed the proper actions and/or protocols were taken at the event to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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