More than 200 Waupun inmates test positive for COVID-19. That number may grow — 5/29/20

More than 200 inmates at Waupun Correctional Institution have tested positive for COVID-19 after the Wisconsin National Guard tested 1,500 people at the prison, 1,181 of them inmates. The diagnoses represented 35% of about 600 results reported so far, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The results come as criminal justice reform advocates call on Gov. Tony Evers to cut populations at the state’s overcrowded prisons to protect vulnerable inmates. But as Wisconsin Watch reported last week, Evers refuses to wield his power to release inmates despite campaigning on a promise to cut prison populations by 50%.

Why Wisconsin may see a surge of pandemic evictions — 5/28/20

The COVID-19 pandemic has added financial burdens to renters statewide, and housing advocates now expect a wave of evictions following the expiration of Gov. Tony Evers’ temporary ban on evictions and home foreclosures, reports Allison Dikanovic, Wisconsin Watch’s engagement reporting fellow. Dikanovic explains how people who are at risk of eviction can navigate the legal process.

Wisconsin sees biggest one-day jump in coronavirus cases — 5/27/20

As Wisconsin counties begin to ease their lockdown restrictions — and the United States passed the 100,000-death mark — the state on Wednesday saw its biggest one-day jump in COVID-19 deaths, cases and tests, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported. And testing at Waupun Correctional Institution confirms the virus is spreading through Wisconsin’s overcrowded prison system. The number of infected inmates ballooned this week as the Wisconsin National Guard began testing thousands of prisoners.

Enduring the pandemic on a Wisconsin dairy farm — 5/26/20

Today we draw your attention to the latest installment of our Outbreak Wisconsin collaboration with WPR. There, you can hear from Bryan Voegeli, whose 1,300-acre dairy farm between Monticello and New Glarus predates the Civil War. Though his day-to-day operations haven’t changed much since mid-March, the pandemic has posed major challenges for the already struggling dairy industry, WPR’s Bridgit Bowden reports.

Wisconsin Elections Commission promises tracking system for mail-in ballots — 5/22/20

As the pandemic wears on, Wisconsin election officials are vowing changes to the state’s mail-in ballot system, hoping to avoid a repeat of confusion that left many Wisconsin voters without requested ballots ahead of the April 7 election, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. The biggest looming change: The Wisconsin Elections Commission will roll out a tracking system with the U.S. Postal Service.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers to send $100 million to nursing homes, other caregivers — 5/21/20

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday announced a $100 million grant program targeting a sector of health care providers facing financial turmoil during the COVID-19 pandemic. The program would send federal stimulus dollars to emergency medical service providers, home and community-based services and long-term care providers such as nursing homes, Evers said. The announcement comes a day after Wisconsin Watch and WPR reported on how the pandemic has exposed longstanding vulnerabilities in the system designed to aid elderly Wisconsinites and people with disabilities.

How the coronavirus is throwing up roadblocks for Wisconsinites with disabilities — 5/20/20

Today we highlight our investigation into how COVID-19 has exposed longstanding vulnerabilities in the system designed to aid Wisconsinites with disabilities. Bram Sable-Smith, the WPR fellow embedded in the Wisconsin Watch newsroom, reports that clients and caregivers are facing tough decisions during the pandemic about how to keep each other safe during close interactions — if that’s even possible at a time when protective equipment runs scarce.

A boost for Wisconsin child care centers. But is it too little too late? — 5/19/20

The state Department of Children and Families plans to offer child care centers a $51 million boost in federal funds after a Republican-controlled legislative budget committee approved the spending on Friday. It’s less than half the $125 million Gov. Tony Evers proposed spending in March, and advocates say the money falls short of what is needed to rescue businesses asked to stay open under Evers’ now-scuttled Safer at Home order with little state or federal support, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

Some Wisconsin local governments — including coronavirus hotspots — are dropping their own Safer at Home orders — 5/15/20

After the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home plan to tackle COVID-19, some local governments instantly adopted similar restrictions to keep communities shuttered, creating a patchwork of policies across the state. But the list of closed communities grew shorter on Thursday and Friday, as several local governments — including COVID-19 hotspots Brown County and Kenosha County — rescinded their Safer at Home orders. Citing legal guidance, local officials said the shutdowns stood on shaky legal ground.

Safer at Home is no more. So what’s next for Wisconsin? — 5/14/20

Wisconsinites spent much of Thursday examining the implications of Wednesday’s state Supreme Court ruling that struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ administration’s Safer at Home order to slow the spread of coronavirus. Among the biggest themes emerging: Wisconsin now has a patchwork of policies to address the pandemic, with some communities allowing businesses to instantly open and others enacting local orders that mirror Evers’ eviscerated policy. And some business owners still aren’t sure whether reopening is safe.

Today we highlight reporting by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Wisconsin State Journal that answers key questions about what’s next for Wisconsin during the pandemic.

Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order — 5/13/20

The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Wednesday struck down Gov. Tony Evers’ order to shut down much of public life to slow the spread of COVID-19, siding with Republican lawmakers who challenged the order in court.

Molly Beck of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the full details of the 4-3 ruling that thwarts Evers’ plans to address Wisconsin’s share of a pandemic that has upended life across the world.

Before the ruling Evers and DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm had extended the Safer at Home order to May 26, with plans to reopen parts of the economy in phases as health-related criteria were met. Republican lawmakers have not offered a plan of their own.

Wednesday’s ruling makes Evers’ order unenforceable, and it will force the Democrat to work with the Republican-led Legislature on a solution.