State death toll from COVID-19 surpasses 500 mark; nearly 6,000 cases in Milwaukee County – Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


The Milky Way Drive-In movie theater in Franklin opened for the season with social distancing guidelines on Memorial Day weekend. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

The death count in the state of Wisconsin from COVID-19 surpassed the 500 mark on Saturday.

With 11 more deaths reported by the state Department of Health Services, the total in Wisconsin rose to 507. The majority of those who have died are age 60 or over, according to the DHS, though most of the positive tests have came from people between the ages of 20 and 59.


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Among those 11 reported deaths were two Milwaukee County residents, a 66-year-old woman and 95-year-old man, bringing the county’s death total to 276. That is by far the highest count in the state, followed by 32 deaths in Brown County and 26 in Dane County.

There have been 5,987 cases of COVID-19 in Milwaukee County, more than double any other county in the state.

Results were reported for 7,107 tests on Saturday with 481, or 6.8%, coming back positive. That represented a higher percentage than the previous two days, which stood around 5%, but lower than the week’s high of 8% on Wednesday.

There have been 14,877 positive tests in the state with 179,329 people testing negative. The Wisconsin Hospital Association reported that 388 people across the state are hospitalized for COVID-19, with 128 in intensive care units. The percentage of patients requiring hospitalization during the pandemic is about 15%.

Mexican Fiesta is canceled

Mexican Fiesta became the last summer festival at Maier Festival Park to postpone or cancel its dates due to the pandemic. The festival was scheduled for Aug. 21-23. The 2021 festival is set for Aug. 27-29.

The Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation, which organizes Mexican Fiesta, said it was planning cultural activities and events for the summer that could be held with the necessary precautions. Those who purchased tickets for Mexican Fiesta can go to for refunds or to transfer the tickets to 2021.

Organizers encouraged ticket buys to consider donating their value to the scholarship foundation.

“Due to COVID-19 and the ongoing state of our country, we felt that the responsibility of keeping our community, volunteers and coordinators safe was our top priority,” executive director Teresa Mercado said in a statement.

The only remaining festival set for Maier Festival park is Summerfest, which was moved to a set of three, three-day periods in September.

South side parishes stay closed

Several Catholic parishes on Milwaukee’ south side will remain closed indefinitely, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee announced, citing high concentration of COVID-19 cases in the area.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki announced the decision in a statement, saying, “The health and safety of our people is a priority. I have concerns about our ability to control both attendance and proper social distancing protocols. I do not want to put anyone at undue risk.”

The parishes to remain closed: St. Saint Anthony, St. Hyacinth, St. Adalbert, Prince of Peace, St. Rafael the Archangel, St. Vincent de Paul, Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Patrick Parish, St. Roman, Congregation of Holy Spirit, Our Lady Queen of Peace, Basilica of Saint Josaphat, St. Mary Magdalene, St. John Paul II, St. Stanislaus and St. Maximilian/SS Cyril & Methodius Kolbe.

Coronavirus cases have been growing on the south side, which has a large Hispanic population. Hispanics represent only 7% of the state’s population but nearly a third of its coronavirus cases.

The announcement came as parishes across the 10-county archdiocese are preparing to open at 25% capacity on May 31.

Free Meals at Damascus Gate

A new initiative to feed the hungry while also helping restaurants survive the pandemic was launched on the south side with more than 300 meals given away at Damascus Gate restaurant on Mitchell Street.

The meal giveaways will continue there on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. By 1 p.m. on Saturday, 300 meals were distributed, prompting Damascus Gate to assemble more. In all, 327 meals of curry salmon, beef kebab on rice, and Nigerian and Somali dishes were distributed before some people had to be turned away.

“If we could afford to give away 500 or 1,000 meals, we would do it,” said Rev. Karen Hagen, an organizer of the event.

Hungry Hearts Community Meals is the group coordinating the weekly food giveaway, enlisting restaurants, raising money and getting word out to those in need. The group asks that only one person per household get in line to help with distancing but each could take home up to six meals.

Masks for recipients were recommended and available if needed. Those handing out meals wore masks and gloves.

Sophie Carson, Annysa Johnson and Carol Deptolla of the Journal Sentinel staff, and Natalie Brophy of the USA Today Network-Wisconsin contributed to this story. 

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