Pandemic prompts safety questions for Wisconsin caucus goers — 1/7/21

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

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Today we highlight our examination of the safety and access questions surrounding the in-person caucuses towns and villages are holding this month to nominate candidates for local office. 

Anya van Wagtendonk reports on a couple from the town of Hudson in St. Croix County who sought — unsuccessfully — to force town officials to allow them to remotely participate in its nominating event. The complaint and lawsuit brought by John Gostovich and Celeste Koeberl raise questions about whether these gatherings are elections or public meetings — and how much access officials must provide even after the pandemic ends.

Top Stories

Tim Gruber for Wisconsin Watch

Residents check in for the town of Hudson caucus at Hudson High School in Hudson, Wis., on Monday, Jan. 4, 2020. Two town residents, John Gostovich and Celeste Koeberl, had filed a court case and formal complaint to allow residents to attend the event virtually in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Their attempts were unsuccessful.

Wisconsin caucuses pose thorny safety issues during pandemic — Wisconsin Watch 

UW President: School system could vaccinate all of Wisconsin by end of March — WISN 12 

Wisconsin Center may become major vaccination site for City of Milwaukee — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

CDC: UW antigen tests missed nearly 59 percent of COVID-19 cases among asymptomatic individuals — WPR 

Assembly Republicans to take up likely doomed COVID-19 relief package — Wisconsin State Journal 

Gov. Tony Evers defends rocky COVID-19 vaccine rollout — Cap Times 

At least one nursing home in the City of Racine has begun COVID-19 vaccinations — The Journal Times 

Dells-Delton EMS paramedics receive first dose of COVID-19 vaccine — Wisconsin Dells Events

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“Many of my constituents – some of whom are senior citizens or have underlying health conditions – have had their lives upended by the coronavirus and are terrified by the lack of forward movement on Wisconsin’s vaccination program. Increased access to the vaccine will go a long way toward alleviating their fears. As such, my constituents demand answers.”

Rep. Joel Kitchens, R-Sturgeon Bay, in a Thursday letter to DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm

Data to note

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 40 new COVID-19 deaths on Thursday, bringing the total to 5,079.

WisContext offers these visualizations of Wisconsin COVID-19 statistics. New documented COVID-19 infections are increasing in recent days following a weeks-long plunge from their pre-Thanksgiving peak. The state’s test-positivity rate is similarly increasing. The state is seeing fewer COVID-19 patients hospitalized since mid-November, now hovering at mid-October levels. But the Wisconsin Hospital Association reported a major spike in patients this week. 

Public health officials continue to urge Wisconsinites to wear masks and practice physical distancing until vaccinations are more widely distributed.

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:

‘We’ll get you through this’: Milwaukee-area volunteers have helped 600 people recover from COVID-19 — Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service 

Gray Brewing gets help through the pandemic from unexpected source — Janesville Gazette

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