‘This is slowly grinding us into dirt’
Of note: This week we highlight two Wisconsin Watch stories that reveal the challenges facing the state as it becomes a hotspot in the coronavirus pandemic. While Wisconsin’s rural hospitals are holding their own financially — for now — a Madison emergency room nurse is calling for residents to wear masks and keep their distance to slow down the flood of COVID-19 patients overflowing hospitals here.
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Wisconsin Watch — October 16, 2020
Wisconsin’s rural hospitals are faring better than in most states. But a significant number — roughly one-third — remain underwater financially. And if rural residents continue to ignore the statewide mask order and fail to engage in social distancing, the COVID-19 surge that is swamping many urban hospitals in Wisconsin could also overwhelm rural health care facilities, said Tim Size, executive director of the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative.
WPR/Wisconsin Watch — October 14, 2020
As a weeks-long surge of coronavirus infections continue to grip Wisconsin, the state’s hospitals are filling up — so much so that health officials are preparing a facility to handle overflow patients diagnosed with COVID-19. As of Oct. 12, 74 COVID-19 patients were hospitalized in Dane County alone, where Mariah Clark works as an emergency department nurse at UW Health in Madison. That was compared to just 17 hospital patients infected with the virus as recently as Sept. 18.
Read more from the series at: Outbreak Wisconsin
Wisconsin election infrastructure is mostly secure — but inaccurate counts are hard to catch and correct
Wisconsin Watch — October 10, 2020
Long-time Wisconsin resident and election reformer Jim Mueller said when he was a municipal clerk two decades ago, elections were not a stressful part of small town administration. And, “in my mother’s age, anybody that learned how to count by grade five could be a poll worker,” he said. These days, clerks need to worry about many threats, including Russian hackers.
Citizens United is infamous. But an obscure case four years later — and state lawmakers’ response — has made Wisconsin politics a ‘plaything of the super rich.’
The Badger Project — October 12, 2020
So far this year, three people each have donated more than $2 million to a political party in Wisconsin. Before 2015, the total any single person could have given in annual political donations in Wisconsin was $10,000. That’s it. What changed? A monumental 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision you’ve probably never heard of: McCutcheon v. FEC.
New York Times — October 16, 2020
Tapping on his cellphone with a sense of purpose, Kevin Mathewson, a former wedding photographer and onetime city alderman in Kenosha, Wis., did not slow down to fix his typos as he dashed off an online appeal to his neighbors. It was time, he wrote on Facebook in late August, to “take up arms to defend out City tonight from the evil thugs.” One day earlier, hundreds of residents had poured onto the streets of Kenosha to protest the police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake. Disturbed by the sight of buildings in flames when he drove downtown, Mr. Mathewson decided it was time for people to arm themselves to protect their houses and businesses. To his surprise, some 4,000 people responded on Facebook. Within minutes, the Kenosha Guard had sprung to life.