State voters brave pandemic; election misinformation, COVID-19 spread; mass mink infection; WI bluff habitat offers climate change clues
Of note: This week we highlight our all-hands-on-deck coverage of Wisconsin’s momentous election. In addition to reporters on the ground in Madison, Milwaukee and the Fox Valley, Wisconsin Watch monitored social media for misinformation and checked out reports of voting problems sent to ProPublica’s Electionland tip line. We beefed up our small staff with two new reporters, Nora Eckert and Anya van Wagtendonk, and an editor, Sharon McGowan, who will continue to cover the impact and aftermath of Tuesday’s election through the end of the year thanks to funding from the nonprofit Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access.
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Wisconsin Watch — November 3, 2020
With nearly 2 million Wisconsin ballots already cast, hundreds of thousands of voters ventured from their homes Tuesday in the midst of a raging pandemic to finalize the state’s judgment on the next president — and help cement the nation’s future for the next four years. In 2016, voters from three states — Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — handed Republican Donald Trump a narrow victory over Hillary Clinton.
This time, the pandemic cast a shadow over Tuesday’s voting as state health officials reported a record 5,771 new COVID-19 cases and another 52 deaths, bringing the statewide death toll to 2,102. In other coverage, see our portraits of voters from Election Day.
Wisconsin Watch — November 5, 2020
Wisconsin Watch’s resident misinformation sleuth Howard Hardee reports on false claims — spread widely on social media — that flaws in Wisconsin’s ballot-counting process allowed former Vice President Joe Biden to narrowly defeat President Donald Trump in the race for Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes. Wisconsin did not tally more votes than registered voters in the state, nor did Biden’s gains in the vote tally Wednesday morning suggest fraud, as Trump’s supporters claimed. In related coverage, Hardee teamed up with News 3 Now’s Naomi Kowles to trace how quickly election-related misinformation spreads — and how hard it is to correct it.
WisContext/Wisconsin Watch — November 6, 2020
When the coronavirus started spreading around Wisconsin in the spring of 2020, Dr. Chad Tamez hosted Facebook Live sessions to help patients understand the mysterious new pathogen. But the family physician in West Bend stopped the tutorials after a few weeks as the pandemic became increasingly political. Misinformation and conspiracy theories are complicating efforts by health officials to encourage mask wearing, distancing and other actions to quell the pandemic. WisContext also partnered with Wisconsin Watch on this companion story: Wisconsin’s plentiful COVID-19 data fuels insights, confusion as health officials learn on the fly.[ad number=”1″]
WPR — November 5, 2020
Nearly 3,400 mink have died from the coronavirus at a mink farm in Taylor County over the last month, according to the latest numbers from the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection. On Wednesday, Reuters reported Denmark authorities will cull the nation’s mink population after health officials discovered a mutation of the coronavirus spread from mink to people. Officials say a mutated virus could pose a risk to the effectiveness of a vaccine for humans.
Wisconsin State Journal — November 2, 2020
The glacier that covered most of Wisconsin — but not the southwest corner — retreated more than 10,000 years ago as global temperatures warmed by about 5 degrees Celsius. But on the shaded slopes of this gorge, conditions remained cool enough for those species to hang on. Scientists think those same geological features that made southwest Wisconsin biologically resilient during the last period of climate change can help preserve biodiversity in the coming decades of unprecedented global warming.