By Shereen Siewert

Multiple people who attended a June 27-28 music festival in Auburndale have tested positive for COVID-19, health officials confirmed.

Wood County Health officials say some of the people who tested positive were likely contagious while they were at the festival. In a press release, officials said cases were traced to the food and beverage distribution areas, as well as areas where softball and volleyball games were played.

Meanwhile projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), an independent global health research center at the University of Washington, increased their estimate this week of the potential death toll related to coronavirus in Wisconsin.

In late March IHME projected 850 people in Wisconsin would ultimately succumb to the virus. Now, the institute is projecting the death toll statewide at more than 1,250 by Oct. 1. As of July 3, 796 people in Wisconsin have died due to coronavirus complications, according to the state Dept. of Health Services, with infections continuing to rise.

“The Wood County Health Department is unable to determine all of the individuals who may have been exposed,” states Wood County Health Officer and Director, Sue Kunferman. “If you were at the festival on either of those days and have developed symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, difficulty breathing, headache, fatigue, loss of taste, or smell) please contact your healthcare provider to get tested.”

Anyone who attended the festival should stay home as much as possible until July 11. Health officials say attendees who need to leave their homes should wear a face covering, maintain at least 6 feet of physical distance from others and practice hand hygeine.

Wood County has experienced what health officials call a substantial increase in coronavirus cases over the past week, particularly in the northern end of the county. Many of the newly confirmed cases have been traced to gatherings such as sporting events, private parties and festivals.

The health department urges people to refrain from attending gatherings in large groups and asks that people who attend fireworks events do so from their vehicle with members of their own household.