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Today we highlight a story by the Appleton Post-Crescent about how Wisconsin’s statewide leaders have punted pandemic responsibilities to local officials — an enormous lift as COVID-19 cases continue to surge statewide, filling hospitals with patients.
Gov. Tony Evers and Department of Health Services secretary-designee Andrea Palm last week hosted a conference call with local officials, asking local governments to take action against the virus, report Madeline Heim and Alex Groth.
But some local officials questioned the effectiveness of a patchwork response to a global pandemic.
“This pandemic has no boundaries,” Neenah Mayor Dean Kaufert — a former Republican lawmaker — told the reporters. “Having that local response may not have an impact because of another community not doing the same type of cautious atmosphere.”
Wisconsin remains one of the nation’s top virus hotspots, and Evers has expressed frustration about limits placed on his pandemic powers in May. That was when the Wisconsin Supreme Court sided with the Republican-controlled Legislature in striking down his administration’s Safer at Home order, leaving a few local governments to enact their own public health orders.
GOP lawmakers have offered no pandemic plans of their own. The Legislature has not passed a bill since April.
Evers has since issued a statewide mask mandate, citing research demonstrating that properly worn masks can act as a key tool to slow the virus’ spread. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, a conservative legal group, is suing to overturn the order.
COVID-19 hospitalizations at record levels in Wisconsin, Dane County — Wisconsin State Journal
West Wing outbreak grows and Trump’s condition is unclear — The New York Times
After testing positive for COVID-19, Ron Johnson says he’s still against mask mandates — Wisconsin State Journal
Republican state lawmaker Scott Allen tests positive for COVID-19, Democratic opponent has symptoms — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Workers face permanent job losses as the virus persists — The New York Times
Applications, admits, deferrals: The COVID-19 calculations behind UW-Madison’s freshman class — Wisconsin State Journal
Food access trouble?
We know that when classes are virtual, many Wisconsin students and families lose access to food schools provide. And as the school year starts, some meal sites are closing. Share your experience with News414, Wisconsin Watch’s service journalism collaboration with Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and Outlier Media. Click here for details.
You can also view a list of Milwaukee-area food distribution sites for students here.
Data to note
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Monday reported four new deaths linked to the virus, bringing the state’s total to 1,381 during the pandemic.
Seven Wisconsin communities remain on The New York Times Upshot’s list of 20 U.S. metro areas with the most new COVID-19 cases, adjusted for population. They are:
- Green Bay
- Fond du Lac
Meanwhile, six Wisconsin communities sit on the Upshot’s list of 20 metro areas where new cases are rising the fastest, adjusted for population. They are:
- Beaver Dam
Wisconsin continues to set daily records for COVID-19 hospitalizations. Hospitals statewide reported 782 COVID-19 patients on Monday, a dramatic increase from 714 patients just a day earlier.
Here are the latest data from the Wisconsin Hospital Association.
People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
One giant outdoor classroom: Montessori school offers ideal space during COVID-19 — Wisconsin State Journal