Members of the Soldiers Grove Village Board meet Thursday night, minus masks. Around the table from left are: trustees Steve George and Jerry Miller, president Paul Nicholson, clerk Kaitlynn Gander, and trustees Roy Davidson, Vicki Campbell and Harrison Heilman. Credit: Gillian Pomplun / Crawford County Independent
Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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Today we highlight a Wisconsin State Journal story about local governments that are refusing to enforce Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide indoor mask mandate at public meetings, creating the risk of spreading the coronavirus to attendees.

“Spotty internet connectivity in parts of rural southwest Wisconsin can make online meetings impossible,” Chris Rickert reports. “And local resistance to the mask order combined with doubts about the effectiveness of masks to stem the spread of the coronavirus means some residents are risking their health just to see what their government officials are up to, a burden one expert said likely violates the state’s open meetings law.” 

The mask-eschewing local bodies holding in-person meetings include village boards in: Ontario (Vernon County), Soldiers Grove (Crawford County) and Wilton (Monroe County), Rickert reports.

Top Stories

Members of the Soldiers Grove Village Board meet Thursday night, minus masks. Around the table from left are: trustees Steve George and Jerry Miller, president Paul Nicholson, clerk Kaitlynn Gander, and trustees Roy Davidson, Vicki Campbell and Harrison Heilman. Credit: Gillian Pomplun / Crawford County Independent

In parts of Wisconsin, participating in the democratic process could pose risks to your health — Wisconsin State Journal

A pandemic start to life: What it’s like to give birth in 2020 — Cap Times 

CDC says children and young teens could get a Covid-19 vaccine in the second half of next year — WDJT-Milwaukee 

Family of health care worker who died of COVID-19 shared final prayers over phone — Janesville Gazette 

First-year college students reflect on ‘intense’ pandemic semester — WPR 

Beloit College pushes back spring semester to Feb. 15 — Beloit Daily News 

4 UW System campuses cancel spring break to avoid COVID-19 spread — WPR 

Union Grove students return after unauthorized homecoming dance; ‘too early to know’ if it was a superspreader event — The Journal Times 

Early study on pandemic learning loss: Math scores drop, but reading scores about the same — 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

“As a reminder, if more people took the virus seriously, followed the best guidance from public health officials, and actually took the personal responsibility to protect the health of both themselves and the community seriously, the need for public health departments to put restrictions in place would be significantly reduced. The spread of the virus right now is determined mostly by individual behavior and everyone needs to take responsibility for the health of community, state, and nation.”

City of Racine Public Health Administrator Dottie-Kay Bowersox, as quoted by The Journal Times

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

Pandemic forces businesses to find balance in getting creative, staying true to model — WPR

Several Madison businesses found innovative solutions to COVID-19 challenges — Wisconsin State Journal

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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.