Conducting ‘the right testing’ as COVID-19 keeps spreading — 7/17/20

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

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Today we highlight our story about Wisconsin’s gains in coronavirus testing — and ongoing challenges in efforts to identify and isolate infected residents.

Bram Sable-Smith, a WPR fellow embedded in the Wisconsin Watch newsroom, reports that Wisconsin dramatically expanded its testing capacity since the pandemic began in March. But experts say too few Wisconsinites who should get tested are showing up — potentially thwarting efforts to neutralize a virus that continues to spread across Wisconsin and the United States.

Top Stories

Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

Public Health Madison and Dane County employees and Wisconsin National Guard members operate a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Wis., on May 13, 2020. Here, members of the Wisconsin National Guard disinfect their personal protective equipment after a shift. Four months into the pandemic, Wisconsin is not using its full reported testing capacity.

Calls for more coronavirus testing as Wisconsin sees ‘significant community spread’Wisconsin Watch/WPR

Milwaukee schools barred from reopening under city order, though some private and charter schools and universities were planning toMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Democratic lawmakers propose overhaul of unemployment laws but face GOP oppositionMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Uncounted millions had COVID-19 symptoms, but no positive testUSA Today 

Contact tracers work to curb, keep up with growing COVID-19 outbreakWisconsin State Journal 

Get ready for a bumpy ride with new mask requirementsAppleton Post-Crescent 

Child care providers question mandatory masks for young childrenWPR 

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

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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


“We are in the middle — not at the end — of a public health and economic crisis. It is not the time to end the programs and policies established to help people weather this storm. For those who have lost their jobs in this crisis, losing their utilities only compounds the difficulties of an incredibly challenging time. It further marginalizes those who are already struggling by making job hunting or online school work difficult. It also increases personal and public health risks during this hot summer.” 

Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, in a request that the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin extend its moratorium on utility shut-offs past July 25

Data to note

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Friday reported 880 new cases of COVID-19, with 7.2% of tests returning positive. The department reported two new deaths in a pandemic that has reportedly killed 833.

Here are the latest visualizations of COVID-19 cases and deaths from our partners at WisContext.

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:

Mask up, Milwaukee: Where to find free and locally made face coveringsMilwaukee Neighborhood News Service 

UW-Madison to offer free COVID-19 testing to students, employeesWisconsin State Journal 

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