Sapphina Roller and her sister Zaria Roller paint a mural on the plywood that protects the windows of Himal Chuli, 318 State St., on Wednesday. The mural depicts the Buddhist symbol for breath. Credit: Ruthie Hauge / Cap Times
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The Wisconsin Department of Corrections is again accepting new prisoners and transferring inmates between institutions while the coronavirus pandemic continues. But the department also says it’s rolling out safeguards — such as quarantining new prisoners and transfers — and ramping up testing, Emily Hamer reports for the Wisconsin State Journal. 

The development comes despite criminal justice reform advocates’ calls for Gov. Tony Evers to cut populations at overcrowded prisons to protect vulnerable inmates. But as Wisconsin Watch reported last month, Evers refuses to wield his power to release inmates despite campaigning on a promise to cut prison populations by 50%.

Inmates say overcrowding leaves them regularly too close to their peers and staff at a time when experts call distance a top tool for slowing the spread of COVID-19.  Wisconsin prisons house 25% more inmates than they were designed to, and they lag far behind county jails in reducing inmate populations.

Top Stories

Full population prison testing has revealed a massive COVID-19 outbreak at Waupun Correctional Institution. More than 200 inmates have tested positive for the new coronavirus. Credit: Barry Adams / Wisconsin State Journal Archives

Mass testing, more quarantines: Wisconsin prisons’ plan for moving forward amid pandemicWisconsin State Journal

25 residents, 23 staff get COVID-19 at Belmont nursing home in MadisonWisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin’s Native American tribes to ‘reimagine a new future’ after COVID-19Green Bay Press Gazette

Madison Latino Consortium steps in to provide safety net, cash to undocumented familiesThe Cap Times 

If COVID-19 cases surge again, quickly implementing social distancing steps will ease outbreaks, study findsMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Bars and restaurants in the city of Milwaukee will be allowed to reopen at 2 p.m. Friday, mayor saysMilwaukee Journal Sentinel

Wisconsin farmers could receive up To $3.5K through coronavirus aid programWPR 

What are we missing? And how are you coping? Help us provide critical information and accountability by filling out this form or emailing us at tips@wisconsinwatch.org.

Government updates

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Gov. Tony Evers’ office

U.S. Centers and Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization 

Quotable

“The uncertainties from the COVID-19 crisis are very daunting, and I understand the decision and I support the decision, and it’s an unfortunate decision…I think everybody would love to see Summerfest. It creates a lot of jobs for young people, and that’s something that we need right now.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel following the cancellation of Summerfest due to COVID-19. 

Data to note

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reported 66 active COVID-19 investigations of nursing homes as of Thursday, and 20 additional investigations are closed. In Wisconsin, just one case of a staff member or resident testing positive for COVID-19 triggers a facility-wide investigation of a nursing home.

The data do not include nursing homes with fewer than 10 beds or homes where investigations are closed.

Residents of nursing homes are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 infections. Long-term care facilities, which include nursing homes and assisted living facilities, account for 5% of the state’s confirmed COVID-19 cases and 43% of deaths during the pandemic, according to DHS.

DHS reported 19,892 total confirmed COVID-19 cases through Thursday (12,980 are recoveries) and 626 deaths. 

Resilient Wisconsin

People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us: tips@wisconsinwatch.org.

Sapphina Roller and her sister Zaria Roller paint a mural on the plywood that protects the windows of Himal Chuli, 318 State St., on Wednesday. The mural depicts the Buddhist symbol for breath. Credit: Ruthie Hauge / Cap Times

On State Street, fresh murals brighten boarded storefrontsThe Cap Times 

‘It’s time for the new era to do their thing.’ The younger generation plans Madison’s 2020 virtual Junteenth CelebrationMadison365

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