Health aides in short supply; COVID-19 behind bars; PFAS results debated; state crime lab testing down; meatpacking rules not enforced
Of note: This week we highlight two Wisconsin Watch collaborations that looked at the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on vulnerable populations: People with disabilities and people behind bars. Bram Sable-Smith, a WPR fellow based in the Wisconsin Watch newsroom, reports that people with disabilities and their caregivers are making hard choices about how to remain safe during the pandemic. And Parker Schorr found that prisoners in Wisconsin feel unprotected as the virus — which has raged through many jails and prisons nationwide — continues to spread here. Schorr is a Cap Times fellow based in our newsroom.
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WPR/Wisconsin Watch — May 20, 2020
Wisconsin already faced a shortage of caregivers who offer crucial services and independence to people with disabilities. Then the pandemic struck.
WPR — May 20, 2020
A manufacturer of firefighting foam says the majority of more than 250 drinking water wells it tested in Marinette County turned up no trace of toxic chemicals known as PFAS. But state regulators say it’s too early to understand the scope of PFAS contamination in the area’s drinking water.
Cap Times/Wisconsin Watch — May 21, 2020
While county jails have lowered populations significantly during the pandemic, state prisons have seen just a modest reduction in inmate numbers. Inmates say they lack key protections; correctional officers often do not wear masks, and staying 6 feet apart is nearly impossible. And very few inmates in Wisconsin have been tested for COVID-19.
Associated Press — May 21, 2020
As Wisconsin grapples with multiple COVID-19 outbreaks in meat processing facilities, the Associated Press reports that federal recommendations meant to keep meatpacking workers safe as they return to plants that were shuttered have little enforcement muscle behind them.
Wisconsin State Journal — May 21, 2020
A Department of Justice Division of Forensic Sciences report released Tuesday showed crime labs took longer last year to process evidence related to DNA, major crime scenes, firearms and forensic video and image analysis, even as the total number of cases submitted to the crime labs decreased.