Wisconsin sees ‘nightmare scenario’ of COVID cases — as Trump ignores medical advice for campaign rally
President of the United States Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a "Keep America Great" rally at Arizona Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Phoenix, Arizona. (Gage Skidmore)

Wisconsin residents saw a “nightmare scenario” situation unfold Tuesday as 5,262 COVID-19 cases rocked the state, resulting in 64 deaths as President Donald Trump held a large campaign rally with few masks and zero social distancing.

"This is no longer a slow-motion disaster," said Gregory Poland, director of the vaccine research group at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. "This is a disaster in warp speed. And it's maddening to me as a physician because a whole lot of people have died and are dying."

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the state Department of Health Services reported 5,262 new cases and 64 deaths Tuesday, both records far above any previous daily counts. The death toll now stands at 1,852.

"It's a nightmare scenario, frankly, that this could get quite a bit worse in the next several weeks or months before it gets better," Ryan Westergaard, DHS chief medical officer, said in a news conference.

President Donald J. Trump recently held a rally for his presidential reelection campaign in the state. Trump's supporters attended the rally mostly maskless and without adhering to social distancing guidelines as set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Trump told the crowd on Sunday, "It's going away."

Hospitalizations and deaths have continued to rise in Wisconsin over the past two months, making it one of the worst in the U.S.

"There's no way to sugarcoat it: We are facing an urgent crisis and there is an imminent risk to you, your family members, your friends, your neighbors and the people you care about," Gov. Tony Evers said.

"We need folks to forget [the] 'It won't happen to me' mentality," he said. "We need folks to stop treating this virus as something that's only happening to other people in other places. This virus is here and it's spreading all around us."

"It's the worst it's ever been. The concerning thing is that this has been going on for several weeks and it doesn't seem like we've peaked," said Nasia Safdar, medical director of infection control at UW Health.