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Madeline Heim
By Madeline Heim November 10, 2020

No, more people in Kenosha County did not die of COVID-19 on a single day than in Germany

If Your Time is short

  • Kenosha County’s health department reported two deaths on Oct. 27.

  • That compares to 42 deaths that day in Germany. 

  • Polack later deleted the tweet.

The COVID-19 death toll in Wisconsin is climbing fast.

On Nov. 10, 66 deaths were reported in a single day, the highest one-day total since the pandemic began.

On Oct. 27, 2020, 64 deaths were reported in a single day, the highest one-day total since the pandemic began. 

The average number of deaths reported per day climbed from 12 to 37 just in the month of October, state health department data shows. And as of Nov. 10, 2,395 Wisconsin residents have lost their lives because of the virus. 

State and local leaders have been sounding the alarm about full hospitals and deaths that they say could be prevented if Wisconsin residents recommitted to staying home, wearing a mask and washing hands to slow the spread of the virus. 

Nevertheless, President Donald Trump has declared the country is "rounding the corner" on COVID-19, including at an Oct. 27, 2020 campaign rally in western Wisconsin. 

That brought criticism from Roger Polack, a Democrat and national security specialist who was running against U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, in the state’s 1st Congressional District, which includes Racine and Kenosha counties. 

In a tweet the day after Trump’s speech, Oct. 28, 2020, Polack asked his followers to vote to "send (Steil and Trump) packing" and added:

"More people in Kenosha County (pop 169k) died from #COVID19 yesterday than in the ENTIRETY of Germany (pop 83 mil)." 

While Polack lost to Steil on Election Day, his claim remains an interesting one as it gets at how the COVID death toll here compares to elsewhere. So, we decided to take a look.

In short, while the nation is not rounding the corner, Kenosha County is not topping Germany either.

More deaths in Germany than in Kenosha County — but not in Wisconsin as a whole

As of Oct. 27, 2020 — the day in question in Polack’s tweet — 81 Kenosha County residents in total had died of COVID-19, according to county health officer Jen Freiheit. 

But just two deaths were reported on Oct. 27, 2020 itself, Freiheit said.

That doesn’t come close to the 42 people from Germany who died that day of complications from the virus, according to an Oct. 27, 2020 daily situation report from the Robert Koch Institute, the German federal government agency and research institute responsible for disease control and prevention.

As a state, Wisconsin (population 5.8 million) reported 64 deaths that day and did exceed deaths in Germany, which has a population about 14 times the size of the Badger State. 

But Polack’s tweet, later deleted, was about Kenosha County.

Germany is now grappling with its own surge in cases and hospitalizations, leading Chancellor Angela Merkel to announce sweeping new restrictions throughout the country. Restaurants and bars were ordered closed beginning Nov. 2, theaters and gyms were shuttered and there will be limits on how many people can gather in public spaces.

Polack’s campaign did not respond to a request for clarification on the tweet. 

Our ruling

Polack claimed that more people had died of COVID-19 on Oct. 27, 2020 in Kenosha County than in the entirety of Germany. 

This is wrong. Two Kenosha County deaths due to the virus were recorded that day — not coming close to topping Germany’s 42 deaths on the same day. 

We rate Polack’s claim False.


Our Sources

Email exchange with Kenosha County health officer Jen Freiheit

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "'It's a nightmare scenario:' Wisconsin reports more than 5,200 cases, 64 deaths in worst day of pandemic yet," Oct. 27, 2020

Wisconsin Department of Health Services, COVID-19: Wisconsin Deaths, accessed Nov. 2, 2020

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Donald Trump hits western Wisconsin hoping to recapture 2016 support," Oct. 27, 2020

Roger Polack tweet, Oct. 28, 2020

Robert Koch Institute, Daily situation report of the Robert Koch Institute - updated status for Germany, Oct. 27, 2020

New York Times, "France and Germany Announce New Restrictions as Cases Surge in Europe," Oct. 29, 2020

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Madeline Heim

No, more people in Kenosha County did not die of COVID-19 on a single day than in Germany

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