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Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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La Crosse teacher Julie Welch, one of the residents featured in the WPR/Wisconsin Watch series Outbreak Wisconsin, says the pandemic has been a mixed experience. She missed seeing and hugging her children and gathering with family and friends to mourn the sudden passing of her father-in-law in March. But there were some good things, too. “I’ve spent so much more time this year being reflective, being alone, being quiet, and it’s been good,” Welch said. “I have missed friends and I have missed a lot of that socialization. But I’ve also realized how important the quiet is, and I’m hoping that this is a permanent change in my life.”

Top stories

Julie Welch’s father-in-law, Russ, is seen along with her husband, Brett, and daughters, Ellie and Anna, during a park get-together in June 2020. Russ died on March 16, 2021. Credit: Courtesy of Julie Welch

‘We’re starting to be able to feel safe being together’: La Crosse teacher Julie Welch reflects on freedoms brought by vaccination — WPR/Wisconsin Watch

GOP proposals would prohibit COVID-19 vaccine passports, employer requirements — WPR

Companies can mandate COVID-19 vaccine, incentivize workers to get shot, EEOC says — CBS News

Pewaukee man gets prison for leading a fraud scheme that took COVID Paycheck Protection Program funds — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MPS plans full return to in-person learning next school year — WUWM

Republicans on state budget committee reject $15 million for unemployment system — Wisconsin State Journal

Average COVID-19 cases continues to decline to new lows — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

‘A real treasure’: Holmen eighth-graders produce book of essays during pandemic — La Crosse Tribune

For many workers, change in mask policy is a nightmare — The New York Times

Quotable

“The ‘officially over’ likely will be when the world sees a decline like the U.S. has seen. That isn’t likely anytime soon.”

Dr. Nasia Safdar, medical director for infection control at UW Health, discussing the end of the COVID-19 pandemic in an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal

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 47.9% of Wisconsinites have received at least one vaccine dose, including 83.3% of those ages 65 and older. Meanwhile, 42.1% of Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated, including 79.2% 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 158 new daily infections, continuing a long-term downward trend in new cases. The state also reported 16 new COVID-19 deaths, bringing the full toll to 7,110. 

This chart from WisContext shows how infections, deaths and hospitalizations have disproportionately affected people of color in Wisconsin. 

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. 

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.

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