Wisconsin Watch is a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on government integrity and quality of life issues, and we always provide our news for free.
You can read all of our coronavirus/COVID-19 coverage by signing up for our Wisconsin COVID-19 Update newsletter, and please consider becoming a member to support our nonprofit journalism.
Republican lawmakers approved a resolution Thursday to end Gov. Tony Evers’ public health emergency declaration and the mask mandate attached to it — lifting Wisconsin’s last statewide protection against COVID-19.
But within an hour, Evers announced a fresh declaration and mask requirement, the latest in a tug-of-war with Republicans who argue the Democrat is overstepping his authority by continuing to renew the declarations.
“If the Legislature keeps playing politics, and we don’t keep wearing masks, we’re going to see more preventable deaths, and it’s going to take even longer to get our state and economy back on track,” Evers said Thursday in a video message.
That came after the Assembly followed the Senate’s lead in voting to repeal the emergency declaration, the Legislature’s first action on COVID-19 since April.
Repealing the mandate could make Wisconsin ineligible for nearly $50 million in monthly federal FoodShare aid under a Congress’ COVID-19 stimulus bill, which says extra food assistance can flow only to states with public health orders in place, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Republican lawmakers were working to amend a COVID-19 package to preserve the food aid — in the absence of Evers’ declaration, Molly Beck reports for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Why does Wisconsin have unused COVID vaccine? There’s not a simple answer. — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Gov. Tony Evers reissues mask mandate an hour after Republican lawmakers eliminate it — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Data to note
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services continues to log fewer daily infections, with cases now at their lowest levels since mid-September, but it still reports a seven-day average 26 new daily deaths. Wisconsin’s pandemic death toll now sits at 5,992.
Public health officials continue to urge Wisconsinites to wear masks and practice physical distancing until vaccinations are more widely distributed.
WisContext offers this visualization of Wisconsin COVID-19 infections and deaths.
DHS offers these snapshots of the state’s progress in administering vaccines.
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.
People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Opinion: For one family, a constant dance to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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.