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Today we highlight a pair of stories examining the dangerous consequences of misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
WisContext reporter Will Cushman examines how misinformation about COVID-19 is rapidly spreading across Wisconsin as a polarized populace increasingly takes cues from social media. As a result, officials must simultaneously defeat a pandemic and a parallel “infodemic” of false and misleading claims that downplay the severity of the disease.
In a separate story, Cushman looks at real and perceived imperfections in data that have fueled arguments from skeptics of public health regulations and muddled the public’s understanding of the pandemic.
Cushman reported the stories in collaboration with Wisconsin Watch. Contributing to the reporting was Howard Hardee, a Madison-based freelance reporter and fellow for First Draft, an organization that trains journalists to detect and report on disinformation.
The report comes as Wisconsin set a new record for COVID-19 infections Friday (6,141), according to the Department of Health Services. The agency also reported 62 new deaths related to the disease, the second-highest daily death toll on record, pushing Wisconsin to 2,256 deaths during the pandemic.
‘Infodemic’ complicates Wisconsin’s public health fight against coronavirus — WisContext/Wisconsin Watch
Wisconsin’s plentiful COVID-19 data fuels insights, confusion as health officials learn on the fly — WisContext/Wisconsin Watch
Wisconsin chief health officer quits as COVID-19 rages — Associated Press
Why Wisconsin football has canceled games due to COVID-19 while other Big Ten teams play on Wisconsin State Journal
Nearly every Northland county sets infection records; steepest rise in Carlton County — Duluth News Tribune
Two Taylor County mink farms under quarantine after more than 5,000 animals died from COVID-19 — Green Bay Press Gazette
Data to note
WisContext offers these visualizations of Wisconsin’s startling trends in COVID-19 infections, deaths and hospitalizations.
People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Street Angels tackles Milwaukee homelessness during health crisis — Spectrum News 1
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.