Childhood lead testing in Milwaukee plummets during pandemic — 11/5/20

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

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Today we highlight a story from our partners at Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service about a less obvious side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic: a plunge in childhood lead testing. 

Milwaukee has seen a 39% decline in tests performed during the pandemic and a 27% drop in the number of children tested for lead, Edgar Mendez reports. 

The trend comes as parents are keeping children out of clinics due to the pandemic and workers are visiting fewer homes to conduct lead assessments, Mendez reports.

Lead is a neurotoxin that damages development of the brain and nervous system, particularly in young children. Mendez reports that about 9% of Milwaukee children younger than 5 who were tested in 2018 had blood lead levels above the threshold at which the federal Centers for Disease Control recommends intervention. 

“Fueling more concerns are the rising number of children spending more time at home due to virtual schooling and other factors, and that older homes and buildings are primary sources of lead exposure,” Mendez reports.

Top Stories

Angela Major / WPR

A COVID-19 test technician handles a test Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, at a pedestrian-friendly testing location at UW-Madison

Milwaukee sees decrease in lead testing during pandemic — Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service 

5 more Wisconsin prisoners die from COVID-19, bringing DOC’s total to 10 deaths — Wisconsin State Journal 

SCOWIS won’t weigh reinstating Wisconsin capacity limits — FOX6 Milwaukee 

Juneau County Board votes against emergency declaration as cases of COVID-19 rise — Juneau County Star-Times

More than 3K mink dead from coronavirus at Taylor County mink farm — WPR 

UW System to deploy 250K rapid COVID-19 tests through federal partnership — WPR 

Voting behaviors changed drastically in 2020. Will they stick? — Cap Times 

UW focused on getting back at practice. After that, they’ll worry about chances to reach Big Ten title game. — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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“Almost every municipality and every age range, without exception, has experienced an increase in case rate. This includes an increase in cases among school-aged children. Additionally, all community metrics are at concerning levels … To be clear, these numbers are being driven by a multitude of age groups, and with increasing age comes increasing risk of severe disease and death. The spread is being driven by people holding family gatherings, attending weddings, and dinner parties with those they do not live with.”

—  The Coulee COVID-19 Collaborative — a partnership between the La Crosse County Health Department, Gundersen Health System, Mayo Clinic Health System and others — as reported by the La Crosse Tribune 

“We are in a crisis in this state…In every region of Wisconsin, we have hospitals reporting staffing strain as well as hospitals reporting that they are at peak census for staffing patients, for their hospital beds and for their ICU beds.”

— Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm, as quoted by the Wisconsin State Journal

Data to note

DHS on Thursday reported nearly 6,000 new infections of COVID-19 — for the second day in a row. The agency also reported 38 additional deaths from disease, bringing the state’s pandemic death toll to 2,194. 

WisContext offers these visualizations of Wisconsin’s startling trends in COVID-19 infections, deaths and hospitalizations.

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:

How Wisconsin women are navigating the ‘shecession’ — the COVID-19 crush that has disproportionately affected women’s jobs and lives — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

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