Standing near the Wisconsin State Capitol on Dec. 11, 2020, Madison ER nurse Kate Walton was among a dozen health care workers who criticized Wisconsin GOP lawmakers for holding a hearing discuss unfounded complaints about voter fraud — while not addressing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, a union, organized the gathering.
Standing near the Wisconsin State Capitol on Dec. 11, 2020, Madison ER nurse Kate Walton was among a dozen health care workers who criticized state Republican lawmakers for holding a hearing to discuss unfounded complaints about voter fraud — instead of addressing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, a union, organized the gathering. Credit: Jim Malewitz / Wisconsin Watch
Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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Wisconsin health care workers on Friday criticized Republican state lawmakers for gathering to discuss unfounded complaints about voter fraud in November’s presidential election — instead of addressing fallout from a viral pandemic that has killed more than 1,000 Wisconsinites in the past three weeks and left thousands jobless. 

Gathering on the state Capitol steps before an election hearing convened by two GOP-chaired legislative committees, roughly a dozen Madison health care workers called for legislative action to control the spread of COVID-19, bolster protections for frontline workers and provide economic relief for affected residents. 

“It is pathetic, ridiculous and quite literally life and death. People are dying when Republicans hold hearings about far-fetched conspiracy theories,”  said Kate Walton, a Madison emergency department nurse and representative of the union SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, which organized the pre-hearing event.

The Republican-controlled Legislature has not passed a bill since April, making it the least-active full-time legislative body in the country, according to a WisPolitics.com analysis. GOP lawmakers have lead — and supported — legal challenges to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ limits on public gatherings, mask mandate and other efforts to slow the coronavirus’ spread. 

Assembly Republicans this month unveiled a relief package that includes $100 million in reallocated state dollars but also a host of measures that Democrats oppose, including allowing the Legislature to oversee the state’s vaccine distribution, penalizing school districts for moving to virtual instruction and barring local governments from ordering business closures or capacity restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19. Sen. Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg and the incoming Senate majority leader, plans to wait on convening his chamber until January, according to media reports. 

Kit Beyer, a Vos spokeswoman, did not respond to a request for comment Friday. 

The Department of Health Services on Friday reported 47 new COVID-19 deaths, pushing the state’s total to 3,991 during the pandemic.

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Standing near the Wisconsin State Capitol on Dec. 11, 2020, Madison ER nurse Kate Walton was among a dozen health care workers who criticized Wisconsin GOP lawmakers for holding a hearing discuss unfounded complaints about voter fraud — while not addressing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, a union, organized the gathering.
Standing near the Wisconsin State Capitol on Dec. 11, 2020, Madison ER nurse Kate Walton was among a dozen health care workers who criticized state Republican lawmakers for holding a hearing to discuss unfounded complaints about voter fraud — instead of addressing fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin, a union, organized the gathering. Credit: Jim Malewitz / Wisconsin Watch

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

New daily COVID-19 cases continue downward trend, but decrease in overall testing prompts concern — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

New federal data show which Wisconsin hospitals are under the most stress from COVID-19 — Appleton Post-Crescent 

Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge unrealized, Wisconsin could be ‘moving in the right direction’ — Cap Times 

Wisconsin nursing home COVID-19 deaths and cases reach record highs, AARP says — Green Bay Press-Gazette 

Rock County Jail: One-third of inmates have now tested positive for COVID-19 — Janesville Gazette 

Aurora officials: Pandemic denial an issue — Kenosha News 

Racine County: Vaccines could be available in January at earliest. Here’s how authorities are prepping — The Journal Times 

Wisconsin vaccine panel: we need health care workers immunized against COVID-19 — WPR

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Quotable

“I do think we are a little bit concerned that the decrease in the testing that we have seen coming out of the Thanksgiving holiday may be falsely undercounting our number of new daily cases. … I think we certainly could and would expect to see increases in daily cases now that we’ve hit that 14-day incubation period.”

DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, as quoted by the Wisconsin State Journal

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

Charlie Berens speaks for Packers fans everywhere with his funny, touching video about missing Lambeau — Green Bay Press-Gazette

Rose’s Flower Shop continues to bloom amid pandemic — WTMJ-TV

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