Edward Anderson, seated, receives a POW Medal in 2016 from Barron County Veterans Service Officer Scott Bachowski, left, and U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, right. Anderson's daughter, Sandra Cherney, holds the certificate. Credit: Courtesy of Barron County Veterans Services
Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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Today we highlight the story of one extraordinary life cut short by COVID-19: That of 97-year-old Edward Anderson.

“Throughout his march across Germany as a prisoner of war, Edward Anderson kept a secret diary,” reports WPR’s Rob Mentzer. “He recorded places, dates and conditions he and other U.S. Army troops faced. He had to keep it secret from the Nazi guards, or risk being shot.” 

The quiet Barron County dairy farmer died last month, 48 hours after contracting COVID-19, Mentzer reports. 

Sandra Cherney, his daughter, told Mentzer that she didn’t want her father to be remembered as a victim of the disease, but she felt cheated out of the extra time she would have otherwise spent with him. 

The death makes her “want to get to the top of the cell phone towers (in Wisconsin) and say, ‘Listen, people! This is serious,” she said.

Mentzer’s story is part of a WPR/Wisconsin Life series — copublished by Wisconsin Watch — detailing the lives of some of the 4,000-plus Wisconsinites killed by COVID-19. Others include a loving grandmother; a group of nuns at a convent; a coach and avid University of Wisconsin-Badgers fan; and a champion for veterans.

The story comes on a momentous day in the pandemic; Wisconsin on Monday began the months-long process of vaccinating residents against COVID-19, beginning with health care workers.

Top Stories

Edward Anderson, seated, receives a POW Medal in 2016 from Barron County Veterans Service Officer Scott Bachowski, left, and U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, right. Anderson’s daughter, Sandra Cherney, holds the certificate. Credit: Courtesy of Barron County Veterans Services

Edward Anderson, WWII veteran who spent months as prisoner of war, dies of COVID-19 at 97 — WPR

UW Health receives first COVID-19 vaccine shipment, set to begin vaccinating employees this afternoon — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

COVID-19 vaccine updates: Respiratory therapist is first vaccine recipient in Wisconsin — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Here’s why vaccinated people still need to wear a mask — The New York Times 

Wisconsin surpasses 4,000 reported COVID-19 deaths — Wisconsin State Journal 

Audit: DWD largely responsible for delays when processing unemployment claims — Wisconsin State Journal 

After battling COVID-19 in the hospital for more than 80 days, 60-year-old Kaukauna woman reunites with her family — Appleton Post-Crescent 

Portage hospital: Healthcare workers exhausted, need encouragement — Portage Daily Register 

Here to Help: County program uses small payments to keep people housed amid crises — The Journal Times

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

“With coronavirus surging across the country, nursing home residents remain in grave danger as the virus reenters nursing homes and other facilities at an alarming pace. …Despite interventions taken to date by public health officials and nursing home providers, facilities continue to have shortages of the staff and PPE needed to keep residents and workers safe and stop the spread. Our nursing home dashboard data should have state leaders redoubling their efforts now to save lives.”

AARP State Director Sam Wilson in a statement

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

KUSD offers virtual calming room, an online resource for students and staff — Kenosha News

Car Carols, a concert by the Wisconsin Chamber Choir, is streamed to the world from the top of a parking garage — Wisconsin State Journal 

Even while she was dying of coronavirus, a dedicated volunteer and former nurse was ‘focused on everyone else’ — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Access to some stories listed in the Wisconsin COVID-19 Update may be limited to subscribers of the news organizations that produced them. We urge our readers to consider supporting these important news outlets by subscribing.

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