Ex-coach Mike Holmgren slams Donald Trump's COVID-19 response as Packers extend fan ban

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With COVID-19 surging in Wisconsin, the Green Bay Packers will continue their red-hot season without fans at Lambeau Field.

The Packers announced on Tuesday that the team is extending its ban on fans indefinitely. The team announced in August that fans would not be allowed for the first two home games against the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons, but held out hope that pandemic conditions would allow for limited fans beyond those games.

Packers CEO: ‘We are very concerned’

The Packers beat the Falcons last night. And conditions are getting worse in Wisconsin.

“We are very concerned with the rate of infection in our area,” Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy wrote in a team statement Tuesday. “We are trending in the wrong direction in terms of hospitalization and positive cases, and based on recommendations from community healthcare and public health officials, hosting fans at the stadium for games is not advisable at this time.”

The statement noted that Wisconsin “will need to see a marked improvement in the rate of hospitalizations, as well as the community infection rate and positivity rate” before fans are allowed at Lambeau Field.

Players begin to warm up as the seats are empty at Lambeau Field before an NFL football game between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)
Lambeau Field isn't the only venue restricting gatherings as Wisconsin faces a COVID-19 crisis. (AP Photo/Matt Ludtke)

Crisis in Wisconsin

The Packers’ decision arrives as Wisconsin is in the midst of its highest rate of confirmed COVID-19 cases since the onset of the pandemic.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the state added an average of 2,346 cases per day over the last week, a four percent increase over the previous week. The rate of 14 deaths per day is a 102 percent increase over over the previous week, per numbers provided by The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

As of Tuesday, the state had tallied 136,379 confirmed COVID-19 cases 1,399 deaths attributed to the pandemic.

The surge has resulted in an influx of patients in hospitals in some parts of the state.

“We are seeing intense community spread in all age groups, in communities all across this state," health services secretary Andrea Palm said Tuesday per the Journal-Sentinel. “We've gotten to a place where we're having trouble keeping up.”

Holmgren slams Donald Trump on COVID-19

Former Packers head coach Mike Holmgren slammed the federal response to COVID-19 and blamed President Donald Trump for Wisconsin’s plight in a statement responding to the Lambeau Field news.

“Today’s announcement makes one thing very clear — President Trump’s failure to mount a forceful response to the coronavirus pandemic has profound consequences for Green Bay’s economy,” Holmgren wrote. ...

We are now months into this crisis, cases are surging across Wisconsin, and President Trump still doesn’t have a plan to get the virus under control. It doesn’t have to be this bad.”

Holmgren then endorsed Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential race. Wisconsin is a battleground state that helped send Trump to the White House in 2016.

Holmgren coached the Packers from 1992 to 1998, leading them to a Super Bowl title after the 1997 season.

Wisconsin limiting gatherings statewide

Measures are being taken across Wisconsin to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Gov. Tony Evers announced on Tuesday a 25 percent cap on capacity at bars and restaurants. At the same time, he announced a $109 million grant to assist businesses hardest hit by the pandemic like hotels, music venues and restaurants.

The city of Milwaukee called off trick-or-treating on Halloween.

Second wave beyond Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s surge arrives as a second wave of the pandemic threatens the United States and beyond as weather turns colder and COVID-19 safety protocols are relaxed as people grow weary of restrictions.

A forecast presented by the University of Washington in early September predicted the death toll in the United States to rise to 410,000 by the end of the year.

As of Tuesday, the United States claimed 7.49 million of the world’s 35.64 million confirmed COVID-19 cases and 210,000 of the 1.05 million global deaths attributed to the pandemic.

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