Remembering lives lost as Wisconsin’s coronavirus death toll reaches 4,255 — 12/17/20

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

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The Wisconsin Department of Health services on Thursday reported 59 new deaths from COVID-19, pushing the state’s pandemic death toll to 4,255. Included in those numbers: Duane Bark — a beloved educator, football coach and athletic director who bonded with his daughter by painting her nails.

Today we highlight Bram Sable-Smith’s story about Bark’s life. It’s part of a WPR and Wisconsin Life series exploring the lives behind pandemic’s grim statistics. Others include a World War II veteran who kept a diary as a prisoner of war, a loving grandmother, six nuns that lived as educators and provided care and a champion for veterans.

Top Stories

Mike De Sisti / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Franzetta Lee, left, Northcott Neighborhood House fund development director, with employee Andre Talton, checks in a recipient who arrived to pick up items from the Milwaukee agency’s food pantry. Food banks and pantries are trying to prepare for the end of coronavirus protections.

Duane Bark — beloved educator and football coach who painted daughter’s nails, dies of COVID-19 at 61 — WPR/Wisconsin Watch

Federal aid helped the hungry in the Milwaukee area during the coronavirus pandemic. Now they face a ‘food cliff.’ — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Evers asks Wisconsin Supreme Court to allow new capacity limits — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Facing a ‘grim’ winter, Madison restaurant owners envision a post-COVID future — Cap Times 

Among nursing homes hit by Covid-19, veterans homes struggled the most — Wall Street Journal  

‘We’re not animals:’ Half of Rock County Jail inmates test positive for COVID-19 — Janesville Gazette 

State health secretary says full hospitals may have prompted some residents to change behavior, leading to decline in COVID-19 cases — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Student well-being, mental health concerns leads Baraboo public schools to reopen sooner than planned — Baraboo News-Republic

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“What we believed before about the relative harmlessness of COVID-19 among younger adults has simply not been borne out by emerging data. In the past, it took us too long to respond to the epidemics of opioids and H.I.V./AIDS when the young started dying in large numbers. Now that we have similar information about COVID-19, we must immediately address it.”

Dr. Jeremy Samuel Faust, Harlan M. Krumholz and Rochelle P. Walensky, doctors writing for The New York Times

“While we will continue to follow federal guidance on who gets the vaccine and when, starting with our frontline health care workers and other essential services, the important thing to remember is that we are not out of the woods just yet. So please, don’t give up on the public health guidance that we know will keep our families and communities safe and healthy. Please continue to stay safer at home, wear a mask whenever you are out in public, and practice physical distancing.”

Gov. Tony Evers in a radio address

Data to note

WisContext offers these visualizations of Wisconsin COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths. New documented COVID-19 infections have continued to decline from a pre-Thanksgiving peak. The state is also seeing fewer COVID-19 patients hospitalized since mid-November, although daily totals are still hovering above levels from before November’s surge.

Calculate your exposure risk

In Wisconsin, even small gatherings can carry a big risk of exposure to the coronavirus, according to a nationwide tool that estimates the danger by the size of gathering and county in which it is held. Data scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Stanford University developed the tool, which you can find here.

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:

‘You left us’: Without a government to lean on, Restaurateurs are turning to each other — WPR 

Gov. Evers, first lady share hope this holiday season — Office of Gov. Tony Evers

Access to some stories listed in the Wisconsin COVID-19 Update may be limited to subscribers of the news organizations that produced them. We urge our readers to consider supporting these important news outlets by subscribing.

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