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The Wisconsin Department of Corrections is again accepting new prisoners and transferring inmates between institutions while the coronavirus pandemic continues. But the department also says it’s rolling out safeguards — such as quarantining new prisoners and transfers — and ramping up testing, Emily Hamer reports for the Wisconsin State Journal.
The development comes despite criminal justice reform advocates’ calls for Gov. Tony Evers to cut populations at overcrowded prisons to protect vulnerable inmates. But as Wisconsin Watch reported last month, Evers refuses to wield his power to release inmates despite campaigning on a promise to cut prison populations by 50%.
Inmates say overcrowding leaves them regularly too close to their peers and staff at a time when experts call distance a top tool for slowing the spread of COVID-19. Wisconsin prisons house 25% more inmates than they were designed to, and they lag far behind county jails in reducing inmate populations.
Mass testing, more quarantines: Wisconsin prisons’ plan for moving forward amid pandemic — Wisconsin State Journal
25 residents, 23 staff get COVID-19 at Belmont nursing home in Madison — Wisconsin State Journal
Wisconsin’s Native American tribes to ‘reimagine a new future’ after COVID-19 — Green Bay Press Gazette
If COVID-19 cases surge again, quickly implementing social distancing steps will ease outbreaks, study finds — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Bars and restaurants in the city of Milwaukee will be allowed to reopen at 2 p.m. Friday, mayor says — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Data to note
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 66 active COVID-19 investigations of nursing homes as of Thursday, and 20 additional investigations are closed. In Wisconsin, just one case of a staff member or resident testing positive for COVID-19 triggers a facility-wide investigation of a nursing home.
The data do not include nursing homes with fewer than 10 beds or homes where investigations are closed.
Residents of nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 infections. Long-term care facilities, which include nursing homes and assisted living facilities, account for 5% of the state’s confirmed COVID-19 cases and 43% of deaths during the pandemic, according to DHS.
DHS reported 19,892 total confirmed COVID-19 cases through Thursday (12,980 are recoveries) and 626 deaths.
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On State Street, fresh murals brighten boarded storefronts — The Cap Times
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