Hundreds gather Saturday, April 18 in Brookfield, Wis., to protest Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order. Few participants wore masks or practiced social distancing aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Some opponents of the Safer at Home order have used early disease projections to argue the restrictions are not necessary. Kimberly Shine / CBS58
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Misinformation, deadly drilling, Outbreak Wisconsin launched, debt relief, absentee ballot failures, domestic violence rise in MKE 


Of note: This week we draw your attention to three Wisconsin Watch stories and a new series. Reporter Howard Hardee, writing for Wisconsin Watch, finds that, according to experts, some opponents of Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order are misusing statistics to make their case. Parker Schorr, our Cap Times fellow, reveals a lax regulatory system around drilling and excavating in Wisconsin that can put workers and residents at risk of injury or death from explosion. Our WPR fellow, Bram Sable-Smith, reports on a Milwaukee woman who got a reprieve after he reported that hospitals were suing patients for overdue bills during the pandemic. We also launched Outbreak Wisconsin, a collaborative project with WPR in which residents chronicle how they are coping with the pandemic. Our first voice: emergency room nurse Mariah Clark.

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Hundreds gather Saturday, April 18 in Brookfield, Wis., to protest Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order. Kimberly Shine / CBS58

‘Trying to muddy the waters’: Opponents misuse stats in attack on Wisconsin virus lockdown, experts say

Wisconsin Watch — April 22, 2020

Some critics who question Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order omit crucial context of state COVID-19 projections.

‘They should have done something’: Broad failures fueled Wisconsin’s absentee ballot crisis, investigation shows

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — April 21, 2020

An investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the PBS series FRONTLINE and Columbia Journalism Investigations into Wisconsin’s missing ballot crisis reveals a system leaking from all sides, buckling under the weight of a global pandemic and partisan bickering that kept the logistics of election day up in the air until less than a day before polls opened. 

The aftermath of the July 10, 2018 explosion and fire in downtown Sun Prairie, Wis., is seen from this aerial taken the following day. The fatal explosion happened after a VC Tech directional driller struck an unmarked natural gas lateral. Phil Brinkman / Wisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin allows drillers to flout state law — sometimes with deadly results

Cap Times/Wisconsin Watch — April 22, 2020

Two years after Sun Prairie’s fatal explosion, an implicated driller appears to be back in Wisconsin. Regulators cite “grave concern,” but have little recourse.

Domestic violence reports have risen in Milwaukee during coronavirus — but there is help, advocates say

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — April 21, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic sent people into their homes to try to stop the spread of the deadly virus, but for some, another danger was waiting inside. A month ago, advocates and law enforcement said they expected higher rates of domestic violence as quarantining kept a small number of people together for longer periods of time. In Milwaukee, their prediction was accurate.

The emergency entrance of Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, is seen on Nov. 1, 2019. Corrinne Hess / WPR

‘Wait until I call my mom’: Reprieve for some Wisconsinites who faced medical debt during pandemic

WPR/Wisconsin Watch — April 21, 2020

After WPR and Wisconsin Watch reported on her case, a Milwaukee breast cancer survivor discovers the hospital that sued her has dropped its case. 

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.