Where COVID-19’s economic toll is high but cases are few — 6/8/20

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

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Wisconsin has confirmed more than 21,000 COVID-19 cases during the pandemic and 646 deaths, according to the state Department of Health Services. But the virus has struck unevenly, largely sparing some pockets of the state. 

Today we highlight a New York Times examination of communities that are bearing the economic pain of the pandemic while seeing few cases of the virus. That includes Outagamie County, just next to hard-hit Brown County. Outagamie County, population 187,885, has a 14.1% unemployment rate but only 277 confirmed cases and 8 deaths. 

The report highlighted the shuttering of YMCA centers in a region where one in five people is a member — including older residents who see them as a “second home,” and parents who lean on them for daycare. 

“An organization built on service suddenly could not serve — even as the region experienced relatively few confirmed cases of the coronavirus. The centers reopened with restrictions late last month. Before that, only day care services for children of essential workers had been running,” the newspaper reported.

Top Stories

Doug Raflik / USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Fond du Lac Solid Waste Department employee Shad Gregor collects trash along Forest Ave. The city’s public works has seen an increase in residential garbage since the state’s COVID-19 Safer-at-home order.

A striking disconnect on the virus: economic pain with little illnessThe New York Times

No ‘silver lining’: Trump faces voter backlash amid crisesAssociated Press

Shutdowns prevented 60 million coronavirus infections in the U.S., study findsThe Washington Post

Routine legal work on pause during COVID-19 pandemicWPR 

15 people linked to Portage County COVID-19 outbreak visited several Stevens Point businessesStevens Point Journal 

Garbage is up, water use is down and residents seem to know what not to flush amid COVID-19Fond du Lac Reporter

Considering filing for bankruptcy during the coronavirus pandemic? Read this firstWTMJ-TV

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


“I care more about them than getting their science work done … I care about their mental health.”

Lila Klahn, and eighth grade teacher at Glacial Drumlin School in Cottage Grove, as quoted by the Wisconsin State Journal.

Data to note

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers are putting together resources to help Wisconsinites understand which communities are most prone to COVID-19. Using ZIP  code-level data, the researchers have created maps to show the percentage of people who have two or more risk factors for severe complications of the virus.

The researchers with UW’s Institute for Clinical and Translational Research cautioned that the maps are most useful to those who understand the data in certain contexts, “including the neighborhood conditions where people live and the opportunity they have to be healthy. It also means understanding the past and present policies and practices in the community.” The researchers added that the numbers are only “part of the story” and should not be used to “reinforce harmful and limiting stereotypes about communities.” 

Among the risk factors included on the map:

  • Ages 65-85
  • Tobacco use
  • Severe obesity (a body mass index (BMI) greater than 40 during their most recent screening)
  • Immunocompromised conditions including lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV/AIDS, malignant cancer or multiple sclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Kidney disease
  • Lung diseases including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Liver disease

Find more information here.

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.

Community Heroes: COVID-19 couldn’t stop program that teaches young kids how to readMilwaukee Neighborhood News Service 

Art brings messages of solidarity, protest and large swaths of color to State StreetWisconsin State Journal

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