Face masks are key to controlling COVID-19. Why have they become so political? — 9/3/20

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

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Today we highlight a story by WisContext about how face masks have become a lightning rod in the politically polarized COVID-19 era.

“A patchwork of face mask policies implemented by businesses, local public health departments and elected officials left Wisconsinites to navigate all manner of social interactions without a clear cultural consensus about where and when they should wear masks,” Will Cushman reports. “Incidents across the nation, including one in which a security guard was shot and killed after attempting to enforce a mask requirement at a retail store in Michigan, may have been behind some of the initial reticence to mandate masks. But other forces were also in play in Wisconsin. Chief among them was the seemingly intractable political standoff between Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, and the state Legislature, which is controlled by Republicans.”

Top Stories

Steven Potter / WPR

Teachers displayed signs expressing how they miss their students in the windows of Sherman Middle School on Madison’s north side

Face masks, Wisconsin’s pandemic politics and the limits of persuasionWisContext 

Wisconsin lags nation in education spending, as COVID-19 fallout portends tough choicesWPR 

More than 40 people diagnosed with COVID-19 in New Lisbon prison outbreakJuneau County Star-Times 

Wisconsin prisons have a lower rate of COVID-19 cases than most neighboring statesWPR 

Penn State doctor says 30-35% of Big Ten athletes positive for COVID-19 had myocarditis symptomsUSA Today

Coronavirus pandemic likely to leave legacy of fear and uncertainty that holds back economy for decadesUSA Today 

What the first day of school looks like during a pandemicWUWM 

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“If I’m juggling 13 balls, and I’m dropping them, I don’t need someone to toss me another ball to start juggling. That’s essentially what’s going on here. It’s just a mess and … the hope of payment down the future when I’ve got people who have yet to get paid anything, it’s kind of a mirage.”

— Victor Forberger, a Wisconsin-based labor and employment attorney, speaking to WPR about the state’s assessment that it could take weeks for jobless people to receive  a new short-term federal program that  boosts unemployment benefits by $300 a week

Data to note

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.

Muskego students are trying to raise $5,000 to make hundreds of COVID-19 care packagesMilwaukee Journal Sentinel

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