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A pair of Dodge Correctional Institution inmates died after contracting COVID-19, the Wisconsin State Journal reports — revealing the first confirmed coronavirus deaths in the state’s prison system.
And they come as Wisconsin continues to break records for COVID-19 cases statewide. The Department of Health Services on Thursday reported 3,132 new positive cases, setting a daily record and surpassing 3,000 for the first time.
State Journal reporter Emily Hamer confirmed the September deaths of two men in their 60s with the Dodge County Medical Examiner’s Office. But the Department of Corrections is withholding information about any inmate’s cause of death or contributing factors, citing privacy laws. That means it is unclear how many Wisconsin prisoners have died from the virus, Hamer reports.
The deaths follow a COVID-19 outbreak at Dodge Correctional in September and ongoing outbreaks at Kettle Moraine and Oshkosh correctional institutions, Hamer reports.
The prison outbreaks come months into criminal justice reform advocates’ calls for Gov. Tony Evers to cut populations at overcrowded prisons to protect vulnerable inmates. As Wisconsin Watch reported in May, Evers refuses to wield his power to release inmates despite campaigning on a promise to cut prison populations by 50%. Inmates said 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.
First COVID-19-related deaths confirmed in Wisconsin prison system — Wisconsin State Journal
Republican lawmakers are in court to end Wisconsin’s mask mandate, but they won’t talk about it — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Campus COVID-19 spike subsides: What’s behind UW-Madison’s drop in cases? — Wisconsin State Journal
Milwaukee to enforce city’s existing COVID-19 order, not new capacity limits issued by Gov. Tony Evers — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Markesan Superintendent Duane Bark dies after battle with COVID-19 — Beaver Dam Daily Citizen
Coronavirus found in mink on Taylor County ranch; first documented case in state’s $227M industry —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
DHS on Thursday reported nine new deaths linked to COVID-19, bringing the state’s recorded death toll to 1,424 during the pandemic.
Here is a look at trends in cases, deaths and percentage of positive tests from our partners at WisContext:
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.
Causey’s Career Corner: How one collectible store is beating the odds despite the pandemic — Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service
PHOTOS: Kanopy Dance has gone virtual — Cap Times