ONEIDA, Wis. (WFRV) – With positive cases of COVID-19 running seven times higher than a month ago, organizers of large events are weighing the risks. Kris Schuller spoke to the Oneida Nation, which has decided for a second year to cancel their annual Pow Wow.
This August, Oneida Nation was planning to hold their Pow Wow once again after putting it on hold last summer. But Debbie Danforth says due to an increase of positive COVID cases, the risks of holding the event are simply too great and it’s been canceled.
“We’re not at anywhere near the level of herd immunity that we would like to be at and not anywhere near the amount of vaccinated people in our community,” said the Oneida Nation Health Division Director.
Danforth says canceling the Pow Wow was a difficult decision. But they didn’t want to take any chances with the more aggressive delta variant surging the state. That variant is now the dominant strain circulating in Wisconsin. And cases of COVID are now seven times as high as a month ago.
“Our community has a lot of high-risk individuals, and we have a lot of health disparities, much, much greater than some of the surrounding communities. The delta variant played a big factor in that decision-making,” said Danforth.
“Delta is going to be a version two that has similarities to last fall, but also some major differences that we need to be aware of,” said Dr. Zachary Baeseman from ThedaCare.
Doctor Baeseman says delta is a much more infectious strain and some already vaccinated, have contracted it. He says any large gathering, whether indoors or outside – might present an opportunity for the virus.
“Any large gathering, even if you are outdoors and socially distant – it may not be as effective as wild type COVID, in preventing disease,” Baeseman said.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen and the best thing for us to do is be safe and be cautious,” said Danforth.
So for a second year this important event for Oneida Nation is canceled and Danforth urges everyone to do what they can.
“The best thing we can do is encourage everybody to get that vaccine,” said Danforth.
Danforth says the Pow Wow usually attracts over 10,000 people who travel to Oneida from across the country.