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Today we highlight our story about Wisconsin’s secretive mink farming industry — the nation’s No. 1 provider of pelts — and its possible impact on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Freelance reporter Kate Golden, a former Wisconsin Watch staffer, found that Wisconsin officials are racing to understand the scope of the risk of coronavirus-infected mink in Wisconsin, where two farm outbreaks have killed 5,500 mink. There is no evidence that humans have been infected by mink in the United States. But the animals are well-known disease reservoirs who could pass back a mutated version of the virus — one that may be resistant to vaccines.
That is why a state advisory committee of health care experts in January recommended that an estimated 300 mink farm workers be included in the next phase of the vaccine rollout.
Wisconsin’s No. 1 mink farming industry now seen as a COVID-19 risk — Wisconsin Watch
Republicans will renew their effort to end Wisconsin’s mask mandate this week, despite public support for it — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
What happens if the Wisconsin Legislature repeals the state mask mandate? Here are five things to know — Green Bay Press-Gazette
The vaccine news continues to be better than many people realize. — The New York Times (The Morning newsletter)
Older adults without family or friends lag in race to get vaccines — Kaiser Health News
Former Grafton pharmacist who sabotaged COVID-19 vaccines is a flat-Earther — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Answering eight of Wisconsin’s common vaccine questions — The Journal Times
COVID-19 and the courts: Rock County jury trials postponed again — Janesville Gazette
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 of more than two dozen new daily deaths.
Public health officials continue to urge Wisconsinites to wear masks and practice physical distancing until vaccinations are more widely distributed.
WisContext offers these visualizations of Wisconsin COVID-19 infections, deaths and hospitalizations.
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.
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The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (wisconsinwatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, PBS Wisconsin, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.