Robert Kempka, left, 73, talks with Linda Abu-Hatoum, pharmacy intern, before receiving his COVID-19 vaccine while his wife, Donna, right, 66, gets her vaccine from pharmacist Marwa Bakr at Infinity Pharmacy on Monday. Credit: Angela Peterson / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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Republican lawmakers approved a resolution Thursday to end Gov. Tony Evers’ public health emergency declaration and the mask mandate attached to it — lifting Wisconsin’s last statewide protection against COVID-19.

But within an hour, Evers announced a fresh declaration and mask requirement, the latest in a tug-of-war with Republicans who argue the Democrat is overstepping his authority by continuing to renew the declarations. 

“If the Legislature keeps playing politics, and we don’t keep wearing masks, we’re going to see more preventable deaths, and it’s going to take even longer to get our state and economy back on track,” Evers said Thursday in a video message.

That came after the Assembly followed the Senate’s lead in voting to repeal the emergency declaration, the Legislature’s first action on COVID-19 since April. 

Repealing the mandate could make Wisconsin ineligible for nearly $50 million in monthly federal FoodShare aid under a Congress’ COVID-19 stimulus bill, which says extra food assistance can flow only to states with public health orders in place, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau. Republican lawmakers were working to amend a COVID-19 package to preserve the food aid — in the absence of Evers’ declaration, Molly Beck reports for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Top Stories 

Robert Kempka, left, 73, talks with Linda Abu-Hatoum, pharmacy intern, before receiving his COVID-19 vaccine while his wife, Donna, right, 66, gets her vaccine from pharmacist Marwa Bakr at Infinity Pharmacy on Monday. Credit: Angela Peterson / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Why does Wisconsin have unused COVID vaccine? There’s not a simple answer. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Gov. Tony Evers reissues mask mandate an hour after Republican lawmakers eliminate it Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

A year into the pandemic, what’s driving varied coronavirus rates across Wisconsin? WisContext 

Many seniors are calling me, a reporter, for help getting the COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s what I’m hearing — and the advice I give them. Appleton Post-Crescent 

UW student government continues push for COVID-19 relief fund Cap Times 

Some skip COVID-19 tests out of anxiety. Health experts say shaming won’t reach them. 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

“Because casino revenues can make up the majority of some tribes’ budgets, substantial shortfalls have led to cuts in services such as health care. Recent federal aid legislation will not necessarily offset all of these losses. Plummeting casino revenues also have wreaked havoc on casino workers and operations with ripple effects for local communities.”

— Wisconsin Policy Forum in a new report

Data to note

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services continues to log fewer daily infections, with cases now at their lowest levels since mid-September, but it still reports a seven-day average 26 new daily deaths. Wisconsin’s pandemic death toll now sits at 5,992. 

Public health officials continue to urge Wisconsinites to wear masks and practice physical distancing until vaccinations are more widely distributed. 

WisContext offers this visualization of Wisconsin COVID-19 infections and deaths.

DHS offers these snapshots of the state’s progress in administering vaccines.

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

Carol and John Rowlands speak to reporters after receiving the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2021, at Touchmark in Appleton, Wis. Credit: Angela Major / WPR

With memories of polio epidemic, Appleton couple reflects on power of vaccines after receiving COVID-19 shots WPR 

Opinion: For one family, a constant dance to stay safe during the coronavirus pandemic Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

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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.