This transmission electron micrograph shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles isolated from a patient suffering from COVID-19. The image was captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases via Flickr
Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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Advocate Aurora Health has fired a pharmacist who allegedly tampered with 57 vials of the Moderna coronavirus vaccine by intentionally removing them from a refrigerator. And the Village of Grafton Police Department announced Thursday that officers arrested the former employee.

The interference resulted in 57 people receiving ineffective or less effective doses of the vaccine and more than 500 doses being tossed out, Alison Dirr reports for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

In a statement Thursday, Grafton police said the former pharmacist — a Grafton resident — admitted to intentionally removing the vials, knowing that doing so would render the vaccine unusable. The department withheld his name “pending his former advisement of charges.” Recommended charges include three different felonies.

The episode has sparked nationwide outrage as the country struggles to quickly distribute vaccines needed to end the pandemic. 

“This is just a monstrous thing to do,” state Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, tweeted Wednesday night. “We have plenty to worry about with this pandemic, but I never thought we’d have a vaccine saboteur.”

Programming note: Wisconsin COVID-19 Update will take Friday off. We’ll return Monday afternoon in the New Year.

Top Stories 

This transmission electron micrograph shows SARS-CoV-2 virus particles isolated from a patient suffering from COVID-19. The image was captured and color-enhanced at the NIAID Integrated Research Facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland. Credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases via Flickr

Aurora pharmacist intentionally removed COVID-19 vaccines from fridge twice; 57 people got less-effective doses, 500 doses ruined — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Students faced barriers as almost every Wisconsin school building shuttered last spring — Wisconsin State Journal 

‘Use it or lose it’: Some Janesville police officers receive COVID-19 vaccinations — Janesville Gazette 

More Rock County Jail inmates test positive for COVID-19; some refuse tests — Janesville Gazette 

State faces challenges renewing extended unemployment benefits under new coronavirus relief plan — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

The plague year — The New Yorker 

Over 950,000 people have activated COVID-19 exposure app — WSAW-TV 

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.

Quotable

“We are health care. … Just because we don’t work at a hospital, we don’t work in a clinic, we are part of the health care system.”

 Greenfield Fire Chief Jon Cohn, speaking to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about why he believes the state should prioritize vaccinations for EMS workers 

Data to note

WisContext offers these visualizations of Wisconsin COVID-19 statistics. New documented COVID-19 infections and test-positivity rates are far below their pre-Thanksgiving peak. The state is also seeing fewer COVID-19 patients hospitalized since mid-November, now hovering at mid-October levels.

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Calculate your exposure risk

In Wisconsin, even small gatherings can carry a big risk of exposure to the coronavirus, according to a nationwide tool that estimates the danger by the size of gathering and county in which it is held. Data scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Stanford University developed the tool, which you can find here

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

Touchless auto purchases are here to stay; low interest rates mean there are good deals to be had, dealers say — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Patios, protests, takeout and resilience: 7 stories from a memorable year in food — Cap Times

Wisconsin Watch

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