Four years ago, the Wisconsin state fairgrounds were a scene of celebration. The nation’s newly elected president, Donald Trump, stood amid red-bauble-bedecked Christmas trees and regaled thousands of supporters with tales from the night Wisconsin propelled his improbable victory.
Today, the grounds are host to a field hospital for treating coronavirus patients, row-upon-row of stark white beds to accommodate overflow from the state’s beleaguered medical centers.
Outside lies a suburban Milwaukee community that had been in the midst of a renaissance — until the novel coronavirus took hold. Restaurant owners endured whiplash as the rules of reopening were fought over in court. Police officers relived the memory of patrolling a nearby city, Kenosha, as buildings were set aflame.
To the east are a sea of blue signs for former vice president Joe Biden. To the west, it’s all Trump. In between — in the shadow of an idled Ferris wheel — voters wait to cast ballots in lines that stretch around the block.