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Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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Today we highlight our latest story about efforts to thwart an evictions crisis as the coronavirus pandemic drags on.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this month ordered an unprecedented nationwide eviction moratorium through the end of 2020, spotlighting a message experts have long preached: Housing stability and health are intertwined.

The story follows renters in Milwaukee, Fond du Lac and elsewhere who are trying to avoid evictions, showing how even the threat of homelessness exacts a physical and mental toll. An estimated 4,000 households in Milwaukee alone have faced eviction since the pandemic began, data show.

Wisconsin Watch/WPR reporter Bram Sable-Smith reported the story in collaboration with Martha Bebinger of WBUR and Darian Benson of Side Effects Public Media. In a related story, Princess Safiya Byers detailed what renters should know about the CDC’s moratorium, which has not fully halted evictions. And Wisconsin Watch’s Clara Neupert assembled an interactive timeline showing how Wisconsin’s evictions crisis has unfolded.

Top Stories 

Robert and Stephanie Pettigrew are seen with their daughter Heavenly Pettigrew outside of their two-bedroom apartment in Milwaukee on Sept. 4, 2020. Robert, who has a mass on his lung, left his job at Motel 6 after the pandemic struck for fear of suffering severe complications from any exposure to the coronavirus. Stephanie, who has her own health challenges, receives $400 to $900 each month in Social Security Disability Insurance — increasingly vital income for the family. The couple has struggled to pay their $600-a-month rent on their apartment during the pandemic, prompting their landlord to seek an eviction. The Pettigrews avoided losing their home to eviction after getting more than $4,700 in emergency rental relief from Community Advocates, a nonprofit group that helps administer Milwaukee County’s rental aid program. The group is now helping the family look for a less expensive apartment.

Evictions damage public health. The CDC aims to curb them — for now.Wisconsin Watch/WPR/WBUR/Side Effects Public Media

‘Rent is still due’: What you need to know about the CDC’s order to pause residential evictionsMilwaukee Neighborhood News Service/Wisconsin Watch

Timeline: Wisconsin’s eviction crisisClara Neupert

COVID-19 outbreak at Kettle Moraine prison tops 260 —active cases, Wisconsin DOC saysWisconsin State Journal 

Evers, Wisconsin Health officials say state in ‘crisis’ Associated Press 

Three Portage schools close through Oct. 9 due to rising COVID-19 cases, quarantinesPortage Daily Register

Marquette study shows mask mandates are necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19 WUWM

Kewaskum youth football coach fired for knowingly exposing players and staff to COVID-19Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Trump to campaign in La Crosse and Green Bay as COVID-19 cases soarMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

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


“I know what works to keep the virus contained and it’s those three things we talk about, you gotta keep your distance, wash your hands and wear a mask,” Dr. Pothof said. “If we’re seeing an increase in cases, the only logical conclusion is that we’re not doing those things as effectively.”

—  Dr. Jeff Pothoff of UW Health, speaking to WKOW 

“We had Labor Day a few weeks ago, we may be seeing some carryover from gatherings that happened then knowing that it takes a little bit of time to start seeing the positive cases after gatherings. We have schools that reopened, most notably colleges and universities that reopened that had been shown to be very problematic hotspots for COVID-19, particularly in Wisconsin but also around the country. And then somewhat more unique to Wisconsin, we have weather that’s changing, driving people a little more indoors.”

— Dr. Ben Weston, the medical director for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, speaking to WUWM 

“When you look at the epidemic curve and you ignore the … number of cases daily and just look at the shape of the line, we are New York in March … We are experiencing rapid rise.”

— Ajay Sethi, a public health professor with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, speaking to WPR

Food access trouble?

We know that when classes are virtual, many Wisconsin students and families lose access to food schools provide. And as the school year starts, some meal sites are closing. Share your experience with News414, Wisconsin Watch’s service journalism collaboration with Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service and Outlier Media. Click here for details.

You can also view a list of Milwaukee-area food distribution sites for students here.

Data to note

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Tuesday reported 17 additional deaths from the coronavirus, the highest tally since late May. 

Here is a look at trends in cases and deaths from our partners at WisContext. 

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UW’s Badger Seal promises to make masks work betterCap Times 

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