Wisconsin Weekly: Unemployed with disabilities may get pandemic benefits

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Help for jobless; back to work amid pandemic; MKE overdoses spike; no statewide covid spikes due to elections, protests; scrutinizing use of force


Of note: This week we highlight a story by WPR reporter Bram Sable-Smith, the investigative reporting fellow embedded in Wisconsin Watch’s newsroom. Sable-Smith earlier this month reported that because of a 2013 state law, Wisconsin was denying federal pandemic unemployment benefits to people with disabilities. On Tuesday, he reported the state was rethinking that stance — a reversal that could benefit thousands of residents receiving Social Security Disability Insurance who work part-time but who have lost their jobs. 

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Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

Caleb Frostman, Wisconsin Secretary of Workforce Development, is seen here addressing the legislature on Dec. 4, 2018, at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis., while serving as a state senator.

Reversing course: Wisconsin seeks federal OK to aid the unemployed with disabilities

WPR/Wisconsin Watch — June 16, 2020

Wisconsin has denied federal pandemic aid to workers on federal disability who lost their jobs. The state’s top employment official now seeks a reversal.

Courtesy of Jessica Barrera

Jessica Barrera, who receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), lost her part-time job at Groome Transportation in Eau Claire, Wis., due to the pandemic. She filed multiple unemployment claims with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, but was denied.

Introducing Jessica Barrera: A single mom reflects on returning to work during the pandemic

Wisconsin Watch — June 18, 2020

Before the pandemic, Jessica Barrera worked part-time for an airport shuttle service in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, serving local travelers en route to larger cities like Minneapolis. She cherished hearing stories about the far-off places people had visited.

Edgar Mendez / Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Rafael Mercado, founder of Team HAVOC, holds a container of needles collected during a cleanup on the South Side. His group conducts needle cleanups and trains people to administer Narcan, a drug used to reverse the effects of opioid overdoses.

Milwaukee County on pace to surpass overdose record again in 2020

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service — June 18, 2020

According to data provided on June 11 by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office, there were 192 confirmed drug overdose deaths from Jan. 1 to March 19, with 62 more probable cases pending toxicology tests. The office recorded 153 overdose deaths through June 11 of last year.

In-person election, protests, bars opening. None appear to have spiked COVID cases. Experts hope public precautions keep spread in check

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — June 18, 2020

First came Wisconsin’s in-person election. Then it was protests over Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order. In mid-May, a sudden court order opened the state. And, in the weeks since, there have been large marches against police brutality. But to date, none appear to have led to a surge in the numbers tracking COVID-19’s spread.

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Protestors shut down Doty Street in front of the City-County Building in downtown Madison, Wis., on June 14, 2020 to call for the Madison Police Department to be defunded and for the firing of Matt Kenny, the officer who shot and killed 19-year-old Tony Robinson in 2015.

Several Wisconsin communities reviewing police use of force policies

WPR — June 15, 2020

Several local governments across Wisconsin have pledged to review their police department’s use of force policies as protesters and activists continue to call for statewide changes to Wisconsin’s criminal justice system. However, it’s unclear when those changes may materialize or what they will look like.

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