Wisconsin Weekly: Examining contact tracing and testing as COVID-19 spreads in Wisconsin

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Coronavirus testing; conspiracy theories; reopening business during pandemic; uncounted ballots; alleged hate crime


Of note: This week we highlight our two most recent stories. Howard Hardee examines how online misinformation is forcing local officials  — particularly in Appleton — to use their resources to debunk false conspiracy theories about contact tracing. And Bram Sable-Smith, a WPR reporter based in the Wisconsin Watch newsroom, reports that Wisconsin has dramatically expanded its testing capacity since the pandemic began. But experts say too few Wisconsinites who should get tested are showing up — potentially thwarting efforts to neutralize the virus.

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Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Public Health Madison and Dane County employees and members of the Wisconsin National Guard operate a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wis., on May 13, 2020. Here, Wisconsin National Guard members perform the tests, asking people to blow their noses before administering nasal swabs. Wisconsin has dramatically expanded its testing capacity during the pandemic, but experts say too few Wisconsinites are showing up — potentially thwarting efforts to neutralize the virus.

Calls for more coronavirus testing as Wisconsin sees ‘significant community spread’

Wisconsin Watch/WPR — July 17

Wisconsin has bolstered its COVID-19 testing capacity during the pandemic, but not everyone is using it and challenges loom.

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Public Health Madison and Dane County employees and members of the Wisconsin National Guard operate a drive-through testing facility for COVID-19 at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wis., on May 13, 2020. Tracing the contacts of people who test positive is considered an important way to curb the pandemic. But online conspiracy theories about contact tracing have generated suspicion and mistrust.

False conspiracies swirl as Wisconsin contact tracers battle the coronavirus

Wisconsin Watch — July 11, 2020

Health experts call contact tracing essential for slowing COVID-19. But misinformation is circulating in Wisconsin, exhausting some local officials.

Absentee ballots didn’t get counted because of late delivery, misdelivery and bad postmarks, post office says

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — July 10 ,2020

The U.S. Postal Service has identified hundreds of absentee ballots for the April election that never made it to voters or couldn’t be counted because of postmark problems, a new report says. The post office’s internal watchdog chalked the problems up to receiving outgoing absentee ballots at the last moment from election officials, inconsistent postmarking of ballots and one mail carrier’s inattention to getting absentee ballots to voters in Fox Point.

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Adija Greer-Smith prepares chocolate-covered strawberries in the kitchen of her Milwaukee bakery, Confectionately Yours, on July 2. As of July 1, her business, housed inside the Sherman Phoenix in Milwaukee, can now operate at 50% capacity.

Milwaukee baker Adija Greer-Smith slowly reopens her business. ‘I’m a baker that believes positive energy transfers into everything that you do.’

Wisconsin Watch/WPR — July 10, 2020

Adija Greer-Smith, owner of Confectionately Yours, can now operate her bakery 50% capacity as Milwaukee County moves into a new phase in its reopening plan. She is experiencing a mix of feelings as she returns to baking and brings back staff.

A racial slur followed by the slice of a razor, Kenosha man believes he survived a hate crime

Kenosha News — July 14, 2020

Cleveland Carr, a Kenosha resident, recounts how a white man sliced his neck with a box cutter, requiring nearly 100 stitches to close the wound. Carr believes that Chace Holst, who was charged with attempted first-degree homicide, attacked him because he is Black.

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