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Today we lead with a programming note: This is Wisconsin Watch’s last daily COVID-19 Update, at least for now. As increased vaccinations allow more Wisconsinites to emerge from more than a year of isolation, fewer people are seeking daily updates on COVID-19’s casualties and how to navigate pandemic life. Ending this newsletter allows us to shift resources to Wisconsin’s slower-moving crises — some that predated the pandemic and perhaps worsened because of it.
Are we declaring the pandemic over? Not at all. More than 100 Wisconsinites have died from COVID-19 since early May, and vaccination rates remain uneven across the state — whether due to choice or lingering barriers to access. A national Washington Post analysis published today finds growing infection rates in counties with lower vaccination rates. If the virus surges here again, we’ll restart this newsletter. In the meantime, we will continue to scrutinize the pandemic in our normal coverage, and we’ll build updates into our Wisconsin Weekly newsletter, which hits inboxes on Fridays. If you don’t already subscribe to Wisconsin Weekly, we’ll move you to that list.
I assembled most editions of this newsletter and feel mixed emotions to see it end after 15 months: joy that COVID-19 has loosened its grip on our lives and grief for the thousands who are no longer here to witness this summer of hope. Although I worked from a privileged position — the safety of my home office — rounding up data on illnesses, deaths and hardship at times took a toll on my mental health, particularly as my family mourned our own losses. Here’s hoping you found this newsletter useful during your own COVID-19 experience. If you have questions or comments about this decision or our broader coverage, you can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Jim Malewitz, investigations editor
YouTube suspends Sen. Johnson for COVID-19 ‘misinformation’ — Associated Press
Coronavirus infections dropping where people are vaccinated, rising where they are not, Post analysis finds — The Washington Post
The peculiar divergence in COVID vaccinations around Milwaukee’s Republican hinterland — PBS Wisconsin
Rural communities fall further behind in COVID-19 vaccination rates — NPR
Novavax offers U.S. a fourth strong COVID-19 vaccine — The New York Times
Community-based COVID-19 vaccine clinics will reduce hours — WPR
Dane County airport sees massive increase in travelers, but still shy of pre-pandemic levels — Wisconsin State Journal
Columbia, Sauk County movie theaters try to recover from pandemic, still seek aid — Portage Daily Register
Madison neighborhood centers gear up for return to normal summer activities — Cap Times
Data to note
Here’s a look at the Department of Health Services’ vaccine dashboard, which showed Monday that 49.1% of Wisconsinites have received at least one vaccine dose, including 83.9% of those ages 65 and older. Meanwhile, 44.2% of Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated, including 80.1% 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 Monday, the state DHS reported a seven-day average of 103 new daily infections, continuing a long-term downward trend in new cases. The state also reported zero new COVID-19 deaths, leaving the full toll at 7,208.
DHS offers this look at trends in COVID-19 deaths throughout the pandemic.
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.
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.