Protesters gather at a rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24, 2020. They were demanding an end to the wide-ranging shutdown of normal life and business in Wisconsin aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order was later overturned by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Credit: Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch
Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

Wisconsin Watch is a nonprofit newsroom that focuses on government integrity and quality of life issues, and we always provide our news for free.

You can read all of our coronavirus/COVID-19 coverage by signing up for our Wisconsin COVID-19 Update newsletter, and please consider becoming a member to support our nonprofit journalism. 

Today we highlight our story about Wisconsinites who believe the danger of the coronavirus pandemic has been greatly overblown — and the factors that lead to denialism about a virus that has killed more than 280,000 Americans, including more than 3,800 in Wisconsin.

Dan of Muskego, Wisconsin, is among the skeptics who spoke to Wisconsin Watch’s Howard Hardee. Dan believes restrictions aimed at curbing the pandemic are efforts by Democrats to “tank” the economy and force people to become dependent on government handouts. He asked that his last name not be published to avoid online harassment. University of Wisconsin-Madison communications professor Dietram Scheufele says such conspiratorial thinking is not unusual during times of national crises.

Top Stories

Protesters gather at a rally at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24, 2020. They were demanding an end to the wide-ranging shutdown of normal life and business in Wisconsin aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order was later overturned by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Credit: Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch

COVID-19 killed a thousand Wisconsinites in three weeks. These residents don’t see the danger. — Wisconsin Watch

Wisconsin contracts with staffing agency to hire more hospital, nursing home personnel — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

State officials: Post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 surge may not be here yet — Wisconsin State Journal 

‘I can’t wait another 7 months’: Thousands wait for appeals on denied unemployment claims — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Federal red tape could slow distribution of Pfizer vaccine originating in Wisconsin and going to other states — The Journal Times 

Wisconsin expects first batch of COVID-19 vaccines soon, general public may not see it until mid-2021 — Wisconsin State Journal 

State Supreme Court hears arguments on Public Health school closure order — Cap Times 

‘Kick in the teeth’: Small businesses face higher taxes because of PPP loans — WPR

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

“Our employees, businesses, and citizens cannot afford to wait any longer for additional federal relief. If Congress fails to act, millions of employees will be furloughed or terminated; millions of unemployed Americans will lose their unemployment insurance pandemic benefits; hundreds of thousands of companies will be at risk of closing their doors forever; and the vast majority of state and local governments will have to curtail critical services and/or increase taxes in order to balance budgets due to declines in economic activity and associated revenue.”

Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich, Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach and Laurie Radke, CEO of the Greater Green Bay Chamber, in a letter to congressional leaders

Data to note

WisContext offers these visualizations of Wisconsin COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations and deaths. The state’s count of confirmed infections has dropped from a mid-November peak in recent weeks, but a relatively high rate of positive tests signals that more testing is needed to confirm the true number of infections in communities, DHS Secretary Andrea Palm said Tuesday, according to WPR

DHS on Tuesday reported 68 deaths, pushing Wisconsin’s total COVID-19 death toll to 3,806.

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

YMCA partners with Feeding America to fight growing food insecurity — TMJ4 News 

Neighbors decorating ‘war’ benefits Dodge County Food Pantry — Beaver Dam Daily Citizen

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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Wisconsin Watch

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