Overdose deaths spike in Wisconsin communities as pandemic collides with addiction crisis — 6/18/20

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

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The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating another public health crisis: addiction to drugs, particularly opioids.

Edgar Mendez of our partner Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service reports that drug overdose deaths in Milwaukee County are on pace to shatter last year’s record high of 418 as the COVID-19 pandemic leaves many people out of work and creates roadblocks for recovery. Other Wisconsin communities are also seeing spikes. Opioids contributed to 80% of the Milwaukee County deaths, and 68% were tied specifically to fentanyl.

Top Stories

Seth Wenig / WPR

People participate in a Sunday Mass, in pews marked by tape for social distancing, at St. Agnes Church in Paterson, N.J., Sunday, June 14, 2020.

Milwaukee County on pace to top overdose record again in 2020Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Sheboygan County outbreak highlights risks of reopening church during pandemicWPR 

‘It shouldn’t be happening:’ Elder abuse, neglect on the rise in Milwaukee County during COVID-19WJMT-TV 

State’s unemployment backlog persists, Kenosha man has been waiting since April 4Kenosha News

Wisconsin private schools ask state to reconsider coronavirus aid distribution — The Cap Times

Brown County has state’s most workplaces under COVID-19 investigation, records showGreen Bay Press Gazette 

Wastewater samples and antibody testing could be key to understanding COVID-19 in Wisconsin. Two new state studies aim to find out USA Today Network-Wisconsin 

What are we missing? And how are you coping? Help us provide critical information and accountability by filling out this form or emailing us at tips@wisconsinwatchmediapartners.wpcomstaging.com.

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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 


“It didn’t hurt. It was just uncomfortable. I’d compare it to getting a shot in the doctor’s office — just a little twinge. Not something you’d exactly do for fun, but definitely not horrible.” 

WPR reporter Laurel White, describing her experience getting tested for COVID-19.

Data to note

COVID Act Now, a national model run by volunteer scientists, offers this interactive look at Wisconsin’s efforts to fight the virus. COVID-19 was “still spreading but slowly” as of Thursday, and the percentage of positive tests was considered low. That suggests “enough widespread, aggressive testing in Wisconsin to detect most new cases,” the website reported. Hospital intensive care units could likely handle a new wave of the virus, but contact tracing was insufficient to stop the spread of COVID-19, the website said.

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: tips@wisconsinwatchmediapartners.wpcomstaging.com.

Milwaukee’s Juneteenth celebrations will go on despite coronavirusMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Businesses find hope with new Madison Streetery ProgramNBC 15 

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