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Today we highlight our investigation of Wisconsin’s struggle to contain COVID-19 in its prisons, where about 10,800 inmates have been infected — more than half of the population — and at least 25 have died.
Vanessa Swales interviewed more than a dozen inmates at seven state prisons — as well as their families and public health experts. Inmates at five prisons said they witnessed times in which infected inmates were not separated from others. Staff compliance with a Department of Corrections masking mandate is inconsistent depending on the prison, inmates say. And chronic overcrowding remains a major factor driving prison outbreaks in Wisconsin and other states.
Advocates for inmates say they are disappointed that Gov. Tony Evers has not done more to alleviate overcrowding during the pandemic. The state’s prison population has dropped significantly during the pandemic — but it remains more than 2,000 inmates higher than the design capacity of the prisons.
7 virus variants found in US carrying the same mutation — The New York Times
The superspreaders behind top COVID-19 conspiracy theories — Associated Press
As temperatures drop, Milwaukee area homeless shelters battle cold and coronavirus — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
City of Milwaukee has issued $28,000 in fines to businesses for COVID-19 violations — a third of them to one bar — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
What’s behind the vaccine shortage? — Cap Times
Data to note
Here’s a look at the state Department of Health Services vaccine dashboard, which shows that nearly 40% of Wisconsinites ages 65 and older have gotten at least one dose — as have 12.3% of the state’s overall population.
DHS continues to log fewer daily infections, with the seven-day average of daily cases now at 763 — the lowest since early September. Deaths also are down to a seven-day average of 16 per day, the lowest since mid-October. Wisconsin’s pandemic death toll now sits at 6,166.
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.
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.
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An audiologist explains ‘mask-induced hearing loss’ and ways to help — Appleton Post-Crescent
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