Report: How COVID-19 surged inside a Wisconsin prison — 1/4/21

Today we highlight a Wisconsin State Journal story about how a Wisconsin prison failed to contain a massive COVID-19 outbreak.

Reporter Emily Hamer documented “a series of missteps” that caused infections to soar within Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution — from just 12 active COVID-19 infections in early September to more than 870 in October. The Sheboygan County prison failed to separate inmates from others and was slow to shut down indoor areas where inmates congregate, staff members and inmates told Hamer.

Aurora Health says pharmacist spoiled 500-plus doses of COVID-19 vaccine by intentionally removing vials from fridge; Police make arrest — 12/31/20

Advocate Aurora Health has fired a Grafton-based employee who allegedly spoiled 57 vials of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine by intentionally removing them from a refrigerator, according to media reports.

Each vial contained enough vaccine for 10 doses, reports Ricardo Torres for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That means vaccines will be delayed for more than 500 people. The FBI, U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Grafton police are investigating, Torres added.

Report: Milwaukee paused COVID inspections following harassment at Trump rally — 12/29/20

Today we highlight a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story detailing threats to Milwaukee Health Department inspectors during the pandemic.

The department halted evening and weekend inspections for COVID-19 violations for weeks after supporters of President Donald Trump pushed and harassed inspectors at a mid-November rally, Alison Dirr reports.

Vaccination brings hope, excitement to weary Wisconsin nurse — 12/28/20

Today we highlight the latest installment of our Outbreak Wisconsin collaboration with WPR.

Bram Sable-Smith has followed Mariah Clark, a UW Health emergency department nurse, throughout a pandemic filled with anxiety and loss. But this month she reflected on a moment of hope; On Dec. 17, Clark joined health care colleagues in receiving a first dose of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine.

Sued over medical debt during a pandemic — 12/21/20

Today we highlight our story about how some hospitals continue to sue patients over medical debt during the pandemic — particularly Froedtert South hospital in Kenosha.

In April, Froedtert South said it would make debt lawsuits “rare” during the pandemic, reports Bram Sable-Smith of WPR and Wisconsin Watch. But the hospital has since filed at least 231 lawsuits in small claims court against debtors, eclipsing its annual total from 2019.

Criticizing feds, Evers calls smaller vaccine shipment ‘unacceptable’ — 12/18/20

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Friday criticized the Trump administration for shrinking the state’s next shipment of the new Pfizer coronavirus vaccine — urging the federal government to expedite shipments to Wisconsin and improve communication.

The state learned it would receive just 35,100 doses of the vaccine next week, fewer than expected after this week’s 49,725 doses. States so far have not learned of their next allocations until days before shipping, Evers said, creating logistical headaches.

Remembering lives lost as Wisconsin’s coronavirus death toll reaches 4,255 — 12/17/20

The Wisconsin Department of Health services on Thursday reported 59 new deaths from COVID-19, pushing the state’s pandemic death toll to 4,255. Included in those numbers: Duane Bark — a beloved educator, football coach and athletic director who bonded with his daughter by painting her nails. Today we highlight Bram Sable-Smith’s story about Bark’s life.

Reports: Stimulus checks on the table as Congress eyes fresh COVID-19 relief package — 12/16/20

With the tumultuous presidential election (mostly) in the rearview mirror, Congress on Wednesday closed in on a $900 billion COVID-19 relief package to benefit ailing businesses and millions of Americans who lost work to the pandemic, USA TODAY reports.

U.S. Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota Republican, said stimulus checks of $600 or $700 — “double that for family and kids” — were part of the negotiations, Wu reports, along with $300 per week to boost unemployment benefits.

Experts: COVID-19 vaccine rollout offers hope, but precautions still needed — 12/15/20

As Wisconsin begins to roll out the coronavirus vaccine, public health experts are warning residents not to let their guard down against a virus that continues to kill dozens of Wisconsinites each day.

The Department of Health Services is prioritizing health care workers as it distributes early shipments of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, Corrinne Hess reports for WPR. But it will likely take months to vaccinate most of the general population, meaning mask-wearing and social distancing remain crucial to limit infections and deaths in the pandemic’s homestretch.

A COVID-19 life lost: Wisconsin WWII vet kept secret diary as prisoner of war — 12/14/20

Today we highlight the story of one extraordinary life cut short by COVID-19: That of 97-year-old Edward Anderson.

The quiet Barron County dairy farmer died last month, 48 hours after contracting COVID-19, Mentzer reports.

Mentzer’s story is part of a WPR/Wisconsin Life series — copublished by Wisconsin Watch — detailing the lives of some of the 4,000-plus Wisconsinites killed by COVID-19.