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Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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Today we highlight a Washington Post profile of a law firm connected to the anti-vaccine movement — part of a network that has challenged coronavirus vaccine mandates nationwide, including at a Rock County, Wisconsin-owned nursing home that’s now weighing whether to lift the mandate.

The New York-based firm Siri & Glimstad has performed millions of dollars of legal work for The Informed Consent Action Network, a Texas-based nonprofit that makes unsubstantiated or debunked claims about the dangers of vaccines, Isaac Stanley-Becker reports.

“At stake in this latest contest is whether hospitals, law enforcement agencies and others can require employees to take a vaccine that was made available in an expedited process permitted during a public health emergency — and, likewise, whether schools may require the shots for students, faculty and staff members in the same way many require familiar vaccines for measles and chickenpox,” Stanley-Becker writes. “There is little case law on the matter, with only one vaccine, for anthrax exposure, previously cleared in a similar way.”

Top Stories

Carla Durst, a nurse at New Glarus Home, gets a COVID-19 shot Dec. 28, the first day staff and residents at some of Wisconsin’s nursing homes were able to be immunized against the coronavirus. “It’s a very big day,” said Patty Emberson, the facility’s director of nursing. Credit: Steve Apps / Wisconsin State Journal

Resistance to vaccine mandates is building. A powerful network is helping.The Washington Post 

After slow start, nearly half of Wisconsin’s prison population has been fully vaccinatedWPR 

Milwaukee alders raise concerns about lifting mask requirement June 1WPR 

Potawatomi Hotel & Casino is lifting COVID-19 precautions but remaining smoke-freeMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Outdoor dining is here; beleaguered bar and restaurant operators say it helped them throughWisconsin State Journal 

Masks to become optional for vaccinated adults in Baraboo public schools this summerBaraboo News  Republic 

Fully vaccinated fans will no longer need to wear a mask at AmFam Field starting June 1, Brewers sayTMJ4 News 

Small businesses in Beloit urged to apply for additional grant funding from pandemic aidBeloit Daily News

Quotable

“They’re peddling specific legal arguments designed to attract anti-vaxxers and others who might be willing to listen.”

James Hodge, director of the Center for Public Health Law and Policy at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, speaking to The Washington Post about the legal team for The Informed Consent Action Network, which is challenging COVID-19 vaccine mandates nationwide 

Data to note

Click on the image above to see Wisconsin DHS COVID-19 vaccine data, which is updated daily.

Here’s a look at the Department of Health Services’ vaccine dashboard, which showed Wednesday that 47.2% of Wisconsinites have received at least one vaccine dose, including 83% of those ages 65 and older. Meanwhile, 41.3% of Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated, including 78.7% of those older than 65. Racial disparities persist in distributing vaccines. The shares of Black, Hispanic and Native American residents to receive a dose remain below that of white residents. 

On Wednesday, the state DHS reported a seven-day average of 307 new daily infections, continuing a long-term downward trend in new cases. The state also reported five new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the full toll to 7,003. 

This chart from WisContext shows those trends. 

Find a vaccine site near you

DHS and the federal government have partnered with Vaccine Finder to help Wisconsinites find vaccinations. Vaccinations are often by appointment, but providers are increasingly offering walk-in options. In addition, people seeking COVID-19 shots can text their ZIP code to 438829 to find nearby vaccine providers. 

COVID-19 fact-checking

Not sure if something you heard about COVID-19 is true? FactCheck.org offers this page full of explainers — and debunking of common distortions — about the disease to help you sort out fact from fiction.

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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.