Brown County is among country’s fastest growing COVID-19 hotspots, and not only because of meatpacking — 5/6/20

A roundup of top news and information about Wisconsin’s response to the coronavirus

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Today we highlight reporting by the Green Bay Press Gazette on conditions in Brown County, home to one of the country’s fastest growing COVID-19 hotspots, with confirmed cases doubling every 8.8 days, according to data tracking by The New York Times. Many of the cases are linked to meatpacking plants, which are fueling hotspots around the country. Reporters Nusaiba Mizan and Benita Mathew explain why plant design and intrinsically hazardous conditions make protecting workers so difficult. 

In a separate story, reporters Doug Schneider and Haley BeMiller note that meatpacking plants aren’t the only source spreading the virus in Brown County. Assisted-living facilities in Ashwaubenon and Pulaski are spreading it, too, although county officials won’t say how many residents have been affected, Schneider and BeMiller report.

Top Stories

Photo courtesy of Beth Fogarty / WPR

The Fogarty kids — Willa (left), Hazel (right) and Oscar (background) — play at home. Since schools closed in mid-March, the Fogarty parents have been working from home while also having to watch the kids full-time.

Why U.S. meatpacking workers are vulnerable to coronavirus, and why the industry won’t easily changeGreen Bay Press Gazette

Brown County coronavirus: 11 dead, 1,500 infected, and meatpacking not only source of spreadGreen Bay Press Gazette 

What Wisconsin’s shifting COVID-19 numbers show as testing broadensWisContext

‘I need a break’: With schools closed, parents and kids are strugglingWPR 

As a small Wisconsin college closes its doors, others worry about growing COVID-19 lossesWisconsin State Journal 

State tax collections take $870 million hit as lawmakers debate reopening the economyWisconsin State Journal 

Report: Wisconsin schools face an uncertain financial futureWPR 

Door County board chair reveals he had COVID-19Door County Pulse

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Government updates

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Gov. Tony Evers’ office

U.S. Centers and Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization

Live updates

Live coverage from USA Today-Wisconsin reporters 

Live coverage from Wisconsin State Journal reporters


“When Governor Evers extended the ‘Safer at Home’ order, I had a mental breakdown: I was crying, I was angry, I was throwing things. I was just really upset because I thought that everything was getting better, and I was like ‘I don’t want to stay in the house any longer, I was to go outside.’ But I also take this as a message from God that there was something wrong with our world and that this is our chance to fix it, or a time to be thankful for what we do have.”

Charmeka Wells, a graduating senior at MC2 High School in Milwaukee, speaking in Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service in a feature about high school seniors enduring the pandemic.

Data to note

Women and people of color disproportionately bear the burden of frontline work during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an Associated Press analysis of workforce data in 100 major U.S. cities. The analysis includes Milwaukee, where people of color make up nearly 63% of such workers, and women fill 68% of frontline roles. You can read the AP’s national analysis here, and find more detailed Milwaukee numbers using the new organization’s interactive chart. The frontline industries examined include grocery and health care sectors, building and cleaning services, social services, public transit, and delivery and warehouse jobs.

What types of businesses might be safer or more dangerous to visit as states begin gradually reopening the economy during the pandemic? It’s tough to definitively rank risk levels of restaurants, malls, gyms and other businesses, but writing for The New York Times, a group of University of Chicago professors describe how cell phone data and surveys offer a starting point for determining risk.

Resilient Wisconsin

People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us:

Hear a baseball version of a song from ‘The Little Mermaid’ made by a Brookfield Little League coachMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Wisconsin food banks were facing meat shortages. Here’s how they moved quickly to fill the gaps.Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Madison charter One City Schools raises $100,000 in COVID-19 relief for familiesWisconsin State Journal

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