Traci Newcomer sits with her daughter Anna, 16, in the parking lot of Blackhawk Technical College's Monroe Campus as she waits for lectures to upload. Newcomer teaches nursing at the college, and because of the coronavirus, must teach her class online. She drives to the campus parking lot to use the Wi-Fi since her internet connection at her rural home is so poor. In Wisconsin, 43 percent of rural residents lack high-speed internet, far below the national average. The pandemic has illustrated how lack of reliable internet has made Wisconsin’s rural areas less efficient and more isolated. Courtesy of Traci Newcomer
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Slow internet, sidelined medical workers, viral fraudsters, ag troubles, ice watching


Of note: This week we highlight our latest stories about life during the coronavirus pandemic — all in collaboration with other newsrooms. With The Badger Project, we examined how Wisconsin’s underinvestment in rural broadband slows work, schooling and access to health care information. With Wisconsin Public Radio, we explained why state regulations are preventing some health care workers from lending their skills. We also contributed to a FairWarning report that exposes fraud and theft linked to the pandemic. 

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Traci Newcomer sits with her daughter Anna, 16, in the parking lot of Blackhawk Technical College’s Monroe Campus as she waits for lectures to upload. Newcomer teaches nursing at the college, and because of the coronavirus, must teach her class online. She drives to the campus parking lot to use the Wi-Fi since her internet connection at her rural home is so poor. Courtesy of Traci Newcomer

‘Everyone has to have it’: Broadband gap leaves rural Wisconsin behind during coronavirus crisis

The Badger Project/Wisconsin Watch — March 24, 2020

Wisconsin’s dearth of high-speed internet in rural areas makes virtual schooling, remote health care and working from home even more difficult. 

Wisconsin physician assistants want to ‘step up’ to fight coronavirus. State regulations may be getting in the way.

Wisconsin Public Radio/Wisconsin Watch — March 25, 2020

Wisconsin’s physician assistants are calling on Gov. Tony Evers to change regulations that they say are keeping some workers sidelined during a public health crisis. 

Local news station KCAL in Los Angeles broadcast excerpts of an Instagram video in which Keith Lawrence Middlebrook claimed he had a pill to make people immune to the coronavirus and injections for those already infected. The video has since been deleted from Middlebrook’s Instagram. KCAL Los Angeles

Here come the frauds: From bogus vaccine kits to ‘Silver Solution,’ coronavirus cons begin

FairWarning/Wisconsin Watch

As Americans struggle to cope with the spread of COVID-19, they will also need to brace themselves for “disaster fraud” — those cons that rely on post-catastrophe chaos to separate people from their money.

For Midwestern farmers, the workforce and supply chain are top issues in ‘flash recession’

Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting — March 20, 2020

It’s not clear if the downturn will last once the world gets moving again. Still, for farmers who are planning months out, the uncertainty raises a lot of questions.

Wisconsin’s assistant state climatologist, Ed Hopkins surveys the surface of Lake Mendota from the Maple Bluff beach last week. John Hart / Wisconsin State Journal

Ice watcher: climatologist carries on 165-year tradition on Madison lakes

Wisconsin State Journal — March 19, 2020

Every winter and spring since the 1850s, observers have staked out Madison’s lakes to determine when they freeze and thaw, adding to a vast data trove that offers a window into history.

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (wisconsinwatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, PBS Wisconsin, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.