WI dairy farmers in distress; recovering from COVID-19; state ahead in virus variant detection; anti-vaxxers vex vaccine distribution; school restraints documented
Of note: This week we highlight our story by Jack Kelly that documents the growing mental health crisis among Wisconsin’s dairy farmers as stressors including wildly fluctuating milk prices, long work hours, a shortage of workers and harsh weather take their toll. In a recent survey, nearly one out of every 10 Wisconsin dairy farmers said they were experiencing depression or other mental health woes. Grant County farmer Jerry Volenec says the daily pressure is overwhelming: “Right now I’m running with the fewest number of people that I’ve ever run, and I’m running the most land and the most cattle that I’ve ever run. Do the math on that.”
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‘The happiness and joy has been sucked out of me’: Wisconsin dairy farmers face mental health crisis
Wisconsin Watch — January 16, 2021
It was Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2016. David Fischer had just arrived for work at his dairy farm in Rio, Wisconsin. Fischer, who owns the roughly 350-cow dairy farm with his wife, Amy, was ready for another day of work alongside his twin sons, 33-year-old Kevin and Brian, and a handful of other employees. Fischer soon realized that Brian hadn’t shown up for work. Around midday, while taking a short break for lunch, Fischer and his son Kevin set off to Brian’s house to drop off a feed wagon and check on him. What they found confirmed Fischer’s nagging fears: Brian’s body. He had died by suicide.
Related coverage: Wisconsin farmers: Fixing farm finances will improve mental health. And from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: New generation of Wisconsin dairy farmers look for a future that keeps them on the land, following their passion
Wisconsin Watch/WPR — January 18, 2021
The world still lacks a silver bullet for helping COVID-19 patients avoid hospitalization, but experts offer a variety of tips that might help — including one treatment, monoclonal antibodies — that many patients and doctors overlook.
Wisconsin State Journal — January 21, 2021
More than half of Wisconsin schools in a new report had at least one incident in which students were restrained or secluded during the 2019-20 school year, according to the Department of Public Instruction. Reporting such incidents for the first time, the state said there were 18,457 incidents involving 5,792 students in 1,170 out of 2,248 schools, including some private schools. The report is the first of its kind provided on a statewide scale in Wisconsin after 2019 revisions to a decade-old law.
Cap Times — January 20, 2021
When her turn comes to take the COVID-19 vaccine, Sue is taking a pass. “Probably the No. 1 reason I won’t get it is I have no fear of COVID whatsoever,” she said. “I’m very healthy, and I stay healthy through natural means like good nutrition, hydration and things like that.” Public health officials are pushing back against what they deem a flood of misinformation that could cause a significant number of people to shun the needle.
In earlier coverage, Wisconsin Watch found Wisconsinites who insist that the danger from the virus — which has killed more than 5,600 people here — is overblown.
Wisconsin is among the nation’s leaders in the hunt to detect new, more dangerous COVID-19 variants like B.1.1.7
Appleton Post Crescent — January 19, 2021
Former Wisconsin Watch intern Madeline Heim finds that Wisconsin has a better chance of quickly identifying the more contagious variant of COVID-19 than most other states, and now that it’s arrived, the same surveillance that caught it will help track what comes next.