Brandon Cacek, 40, stands outside of his home in Marinette, Wis., on Feb. 3, 2021. The husband and father of two lost his substitute teaching job last March due to the COVID-19 pandemic and has waited 11 months for the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development to deliver unemployment compensation. An administrative law judge ruled in December that Cacek qualifies for benefits dating back to March 5. “I'm seriously not in a position financially for any further delays,” Cacek says. Angela Major / WPR
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Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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Marine Corps veteran Brandon Cacek on Friday morning finally received unemployment benefits from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development — 11 months after he lost his substitute teaching job due to the pandemic and one day after Wisconsin Watch and WPR featured his wait in a story about proposals to fix Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance system, which buckled during the pandemic.  

“Time to do good things,” Cacek, a husband and father of two in Marinette, Wisconsin, emailed reporter Bram Sable-Smith on Friday. 

Cacek fell behind with creditors during a wait that mirrored the experiences of thousands of Wisconsinites laid off during the pandemic. The compensation hit his account more than seven weeks after an administrative law judge ruled that DWD had erroneously denied his application for federal pandemic relief. 

Cacek said he received benefits covering his time out of work from March through November, when DWD’s system stopped letting him apply. 

DWD spokesperson Amy Barrilleaux said the department could not confirm whether the news story prompted approval of Cacek’s claim.  

Top Stories

Prevea Health partners with UW-Green Bay to offer appointment-only COVID-19 vaccinations in the Kress Center and and a gymnasium to the left of it. Anyone over the age of 65 is currently eligible to receive the vaccine. Ebony Cox / USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Half of Brown County seniors have gotten a COVID-19 shot, but short supply has clinics ‘bracing for … frustration’ Green Bay-Press Gazette 

Wisconsin will launch a central website for people to find, schedule vaccines — but the software has had problems in other states Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Milwaukee city employees were able to jump to the head of the line for COVID-19 vaccines, regardless of age or health Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Why Are COVID-19 Cases Really Falling? Slate 

Pfizer’s vaccine works well with 1 dose and can be stored more easily The New York Times 

Short of vaccine, states find hidden stashes in their own backyards The New York Times 

Off-campus student COVID-19 cases increase, UW to expand vaccine eligibility in March The Badger Herald 

Baraboo church seeks to dispel COVID-19 myths with live virtual Q&A featuring health officials Baraboo News-Republic 

First day of vaccine clinic in Rock County goes smoothly as supply issues remain Janesville Gazette

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“The past two days have seen a significant increase in the number of COVID-19 cases among students, on and off campus – 112 positive student cases were reported Wednesday and 99 more on Thursday. Equally concerning, contact tracing suggests that many of the students who have tested positive had attended gatherings, sometimes without wearing masks.” 

University of Wisconsin-Madison in a campus-wide email 

Data to note

Here’s a look at the Department of Health Services’ vaccine dashboard, which shows that 44.8% of Wisconsinites ages 65 and older have gotten at least one dose — as have 13.4% of the state’s overall population. Racial disparities persist in distributing vaccines. The shares of Black, Hispanic and Native American residents to receive a dose remain significantly below that of white residents.

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.

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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:

Oak Creek mom of teen with lung disease who questioned Joe Biden at town hall gets a call from the White House Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Model railroad business is riding out pandemic by serving diverse, loyal customer base Green Bay-Press Gazette 

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