Wisconsin Supreme Court lets Dane County kids return to private schools — 9/11/20

Many of Dane County’s private and parochial students will return to school buildings on Monday after the conservative-majority Wisconsin Supreme Court blocked a county emergency order that barred in-person classes for grades 3-12 during the pandemic, the Cap Times reports. The court issued its 4-3 order along familiar ideological lines. 

“While the sides make their arguments on the merits of the order over the next 60 days, the court determined that continuing to bar in-person school would do ‘irreparable harm’ and indicated in the opinion a likelihood that the challengers will win the final decision, as well,” Scott Girard reports. Top Stories

Ruthie HaugeStudents in grades 3-12 across Dane County began the school year virtually under a Public Health order barring in-person school for those grades until certain metrics were met. The state Supreme Court temporarily blocked that order Thursday, allowing students at some schools to return to in-person learning. Some private schools opening for in-person instruction Monday after state court order — Cap Times 

As far as the economy goes, we might want to start spelling ‘pandemic’ with a ‘K’ — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Wisconsin Catholic dioceses to lift dispensation that allowed people to skip Sunday Mass due to COVID-19 — Green Bay Press Gazette 

‘I just want to play’: $19 billion youth sports industry powers ahead through the pandemic largely unregulated — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Coronavirus pandemic could cause voting confusion for college students — WISN

‘I can show you better than I can tell you’: Meet the man behind ‘Milwaukee in Pain’ — Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

‘Frustrated and overwhelmed’: Quarantined UW-Madison students weigh being ‘stuck,’ going home — Wisconsin State Journal 

What are we missing?

UW-Madison goes completely virtual as COVID-19 cases surge — 9/10/20

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is pivoting to completely online classes for at least two weeks in an effort to slow a campus COVID-19 outbreak that soared past 1,000 cases just days after students returned for the fall semester. 

“The announcement on Wednesday came as little surprise to the campus community, many of whom expected the university to pivot to all-online in the face of uncontrolled virus spread and criticized administrators for their ‘Smart Restart’ reopening plan throughout the summer,” Kelly Meyerhofer reports for the Wisconsin State Journal. “The order came on the fifth day of classes, on the heels of a long holiday weekend and after each of the last two days saw a positivity rate of 20% or greater among students. The city-county public health department said there are at least 46 separate outbreaks currently tied to UW-Madison.” 

Chancellor Rebecca Blank on Wednesday announced a host of additional measures to slow the virus, including directing students in Sellery and Witte Residence Halls to immediately quarantine in place for two weeks. 

Top Stories

Waisman BiomanufacturingWaisman Biomanufacturing staff member Rachel Mosher adjusts the controls on a production bioreactor like the one in which antibodies for a drug developed to treat COVID-19 will be produced. UW-Madison moves to all-online classes amid growing COVID-19 case count — Wisconsin State Journal 

‘It’s probably too late.’ Head of UW-Whitewater gives prognosis for fall term amid virus — Janesville Gazette 

Who is left out of Trump’s $300 unemployment insurance boost? — WPR 

Trump acknowledges he intentionally downplayed deadly coronavirus, says effort was to reduce panic — The Washington Post

UW-Madison facility starts manufacturing COVID-19 treatment drug — Wisconsin State Journal 

Dodge Correctional Institution nears 90 active coronavirus cases; county reports sixth death — Fond du Lac Reporter 

Eighteen Waukesha School District area students currently have COVID-19, according to the health department — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

What are we missing?

1,000+ at UW-Madison test positive for COVID-19 — 9/9/20

Today we highlight a grim milestone: More than 1,000 students and employees at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have tested positive for COVID-19 since Aug. 6. According to the UW-Madison, as of Wednesday, 1,044 students and 26 employees had tested positive. The rapidly growing outbreak has prompted the campus to restrict in-person social gatherings for two weeks among undergraduate students who make up the bulk of the infections. And all sorority and fraternity members living in Greek housing have been ordered to be tested. 

Public Health Madison Dane County warned in a tweet that anyone who lives or visits downtown Madison, which includes part of the campus, “should assume you were exposed to COVID-19 and monitor yourself for symptoms.” And Dane County Executive Joe Parisi is asking the university to send students living in residence halls home.

Milwaukee pastor fights for others after fighting COVID-19— 9/8/20

Today we highlight a story by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service. 

Reporter Bridget Fogarty profiles Milwaukee pastor Greg Lewis, founder and president of Souls to the Polls and Pastors United. He is ramping up service to members of his community — and pushing for social justice — while recovering from a bout of COVID-19, which put him in a hospital Intensive Care Unit, where he struggled to breathe. 

“Lewis is back to what he does best: lifting up his community through faith, organizing and civic engagement,” Fogarty reports. “…Through Lewis’s leadership, Pastors United created programs that help residents in congregations across the city focus on building their credit to overcome the financial barriers to homeownership.”

Top Stories

Bridget FogartyPastor Greg Lewis, the founder and president of Souls to the Polls and Pastors United, survived the coronavirus. Now, he’s back to organizing for change. COVID-19 forced him to fight for his life.

Milwaukee homeless shelters brace for worst as pandemic escalates challenges — 9/4/20

Today we highlight a story from Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service about escalating challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic for Milwaukeeans experiencing homelessness. “During the beginning of the pandemic, many shelters suspended in-person services for residential and outpatient programs and limited the number of people shelters could house, effectively reducing their capacity,” Princess Safiya Byers reports. 

Shelter officials are now seeing more people living outside, in part because some shelters still are not taking new residents — or because entries are slowed down due to the need to quarantine, Byers reports. 

Top Stories

File photo by Elliot Hughes Volunteers at the Street Angels Milwaukee Outreach emergency shelter at Ascension Lutheran Church speak with a guest in 2018. Milwaukee’s homeless providers brace for the worst as the coronavirus creates more challenges — Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service 

UW-Madison orders 9 sororities, fraternities with positive COVID-19 cases to quarantine — Wisconsin State Journal

Health care leaders looking ahead to ‘Herculean task’ of vaccinating 300 million or more people against COVID-19 — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Long lines at Unified meal sites this week, changes coming next week — Racine Journal Times 

COVID-19 will soon be joined by seasonal flu. What’s a person to do? — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Child care providers receive $30M, but worry fix is only temporary — WKOW

Many offices still empty as employees continue to work remotely, employers remain cautious — Green Bay Press Gazette 

What are we missing?

Face masks are key to controlling COVID-19. Why have they become so political? — 9/3/20

Today we highlight a story by WisContext about how face masks have become a lightning rod in the politically polarized COVID-19 era. “A patchwork of face mask policies implemented by businesses, local public health departments and elected officials left Wisconsinites to navigate all manner of social interactions without a clear cultural consensus about where and when they should wear masks,” Will Cushman reports. “Incidents across the nation, including one in which a security guard was shot and killed after attempting to enforce a mask requirement at a retail store in Michigan, may have been behind some of the initial reticence to mandate masks. But other forces were also in play in Wisconsin. Chief among them was the seemingly intractable political standoff between Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, and the state Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans.”

Top Stories

Steven Potter / WPRTeachers displayed signs expressing how they miss their students in the windows of Sherman Middle School on Madison’s north side

Face masks, Wisconsin’s pandemic politics and the limits of persuasion — WisContext 

Wisconsin lags nation in education spending, as COVID-19 fallout portends tough choices — WPR 

More than 40 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in New Lisbon prison outbreak — Juneau County Star-Times 

Wisconsin prisons have a lower rate of COVID-19 cases than most neighboring states — WPR 

Penn State doctor says 30-35% of Big Ten athletes positive for COVID-19 had myocarditis symptoms — USA Today

Coronavirus pandemic likely to leave legacy of fear and uncertainty that holds back economy for decades — USA Today 

What the first day of school looks like during a pandemic— WUWM 

What are we missing?

Wisconsin aims to improve mail-in voting during pandemic. Here’s what to know. — 9/2/20

As Wisconsin braces for a record-breaking flood of mail-in ballots in November — the next round of pandemic-era voting — elections officials are trying to avoid a repeat of the problems seen in April when absentee ballots were lost in transit or never sent, and 23,000 ballots were rejected because of voter errors or late arrival, Max Witynski reports for Wisconsin Watch. This time around, bar codes will allow many voters to track their absentee ballots. Some clerks will install drop boxes to ensure ballots arrive in time for counting. Most significantly, about 2.6 million registered voters will receive applications for absentee ballots in the coming weeks as officials urge people to vote early and to avoid errors. Witynski also offers an easy-to-digest list of what voters should know about mail-in balloting.

Some Waukesha businesses face threats and violence over mask policy — 9/1/20

Today we highlight a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story about the difficulties and occasional dangers some businesses face in enforcing Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide mask-wearing mandate — the Democrat’s effort to slow the spread of coronavirus. Analyzing police reports, reporter Jim Riccioli painted this picture of mask-related disputes at grocery stores and other businesses in Waukesha. 

“It might involve threats, direct or implied, to the store or an employee from a customer who disagrees loudly and overtly with the policy,” he writes. “It sometimes involves vandalism, with store displays or merchandise upended. Sometimes, it escalates to the level of an assault, from a simple push to a firm punch.”

Evers’ mask mandate went into effect Aug. 1 and is set to expire on Sept.

For this Wisconsin mother, new school year means complicated risk-benefit calculations — 8/31/20

Today we highlight the latest installment of our Outbreak Wisconsin collaboration with WPR. Reporter Bram Sable-Smith checks in with Jessica Barrera, a single mother in Eau Claire, as she weighs the risks and benefits of sending her son Niko back to school during the pandemic — or keeping him learning from home. “Barrera’s blood condition, polycythemia vera, worsens her risk for developing serious complications from COVID-19. That adds to her desire to limit Niko’s exposure to the virus, even though children appear less likely than adults to face serious health consequences,” Sable-Smith reports. “Still, the decision to keep Niko isolated was not easy.