Throughout the state, protesters have pushed back against local rules meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In September, they gathered in a "Freedom Rally" outside the Sheboygan County Courthouse arguing against an ordinance that would have created civil fines for violations of a public health order. County officials later dropped the proposal. Credit: Gary C. Klein / USA Today-Wisconsin Network
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Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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Today we highlight a USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin story about public health officers across the state who are increasingly facing political attacks — and even threats — while seeking to limit the deadly spread of COVID-19. In some cases, the pressures have prompted the officers to quit. 

Reporters Madeline Heim and Mary Spicuzza found 13 Wisconsin health officials have left their jobs during the pandemic. 

“Across the U.S., beleaguered local health officials say they’ve been fighting both a global pandemic and a disinformation campaign, fueled by President Donald Trump, that recast safety precautions as threats to Americans’ personal freedoms,” they report.

The trend comes as Wisconsin health officials are confronting an ‘infodemic’ of misinformation that is complicating the state’s pandemic response.

Top Stories 

Throughout the state, protesters have pushed back against local rules meant to reduce the spread of COVID-19. In September, they gathered in a “Freedom Rally” outside the Sheboygan County Courthouse arguing against an ordinance that would have created civil fines for violations of a public health order. County officials later dropped the proposal. Credit: Gary C. Klein / USA Today-Wisconsin Network

‘I became a lightning rod’: Wisconsin health officers have been vilified and threatened during COVID-19, and some have quit — USA Today-Wisconsin Network

‘Why didn’t he ask for help?’: Questions haunt parents as pandemic, fentanyl drive spike in opioid deaths — WPR 

Gov. Tony Evers concerned of GOP’s desire for oversight of vaccine deployment, COVID-19 spending — Wisconsin State Journal 

‘A mammoth undertaking’: Hospital workers may get COVID-19 vaccine next week, nursing homes may wait until January — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Chippewa County COVID-19 positivity rates climbs near 50% — The Chippewa Herald 

‘It is essentially a half-year project’: Vaccinating Milwaukee residents could take as long as six months — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic — The Washington Post 

3 more Wisconsin prisoners die from COVID-19; federal prison also faces outbreak — Wisconsin State Journal 

Nearly three-dozen inmates test positive for COVID at Rock County Jail — WKOW 

Wisconsin pharmacies prepare for coronavirus vaccine distribution ahead of FDA approval — CBS 58

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

“Some people outright deny that the pandemic exists. Maybe they haven’t seen the carnage, or maybe they are victims of an echo chamber of misinformation. But given the rate of viral spread, it is reasonable to think that every person in the United States will soon know at least one other person affected by COVID-19. It is inevitable.”

Dr. Jayshil J. Patel, a critical care physician in southeastern Wisconsin, writing for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Data to note

WisContext offers these visualizations of Wisconsin COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths.

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

She started baking cookies to bless others during the pandemic. Now she’s an entrepreneur. — Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

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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.