WISCONSIN CORONAVIRUS: THE LATEST

Minnesota resident tests positive for omicron COVID-19 variant, recently traveled to NYC: officials

BY Justin Izzo and Ryan Chatelain
UPDATED 12:47 PM ET Dec. 02, 2021

The Minnesota Department of Health announced on Thursday that a Minnesota resident has tested positive for the new omicron variant of the coronavirus, and said that person recently traveled to New York City.

News Release: Lab testing confirms state’s first COVID-19 case involving Omicron variant https://t.co/kBQwR8XwPc

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Your guide to the coronavirus variants, from alpha to omicron

BY Maddie Burakoff
UPDATED 10:24 AM ET Dec. 02, 2021

MILWAUKEE — Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the world looks a lot different than it used to. And so does the coronavirus itself.

As it’s infected hundreds of millions of people around the globe, the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been in a state of constant change, making small tweaks to its genetic code as it goes along.

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COVID-19 testing numbers surge in Dane County

BY Kathryn Larson

MADISON, Wis— As the holiday season continues, your COVID-19 testing center could soon see an increase in volume.

While the variants remain a chief concern, record testing numbers are being recorded.

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Need a COVID-19 test in Wisconsin? You have options, despite high demand

BY Aly Prouty

WISCONSIN — COVID-19 cases are climbing in Wisconsin, and as a result, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services is seeing an increased demand for COVID-19 testing.

On Nov. 29 and 30, more than 4,000 new cases were reported in the Badger State per day. DHS classified 30 Wisconsin counties as having "critically high" disease activity level, and the remaining 42 as having "very high" disease activity level.

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COVID-19 updates: Here’s the latest pandemic news to know in Wisconsin

BY Maddie Burakoff
UPDATED 6:39 PM ET Nov. 23, 2021

MILWAUKEE — The story looks familiar: Another fall turns into winter. Another pandemic holiday approaches. And, in Wisconsin, another spike in COVID-19 cases gets underway.

“Of course, we can’t predict the future. But the trend we’re seeing, I would say from last week to this week, is very concerning,” state epidemiologist Dr. Ryan Westergaard said at a Department of Health Services briefing last week. “The slope of the curve looks similar to what we saw last fall.”

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Wisconsin DHS releases health and safety guidelines ahead of Thanksgiving

BY Aly Prouty

WISCONSIN— As people around the world continue to roll up their sleeves for the COVID-19 vaccine, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services is urging people to use caution this holiday season.

“Celebrating the holiday season and its traditions is important to Wisconsin families, and we can all celebrate safely this year if we remember to take a few simple steps,” said Karen Timberlake, DHS secretary-designee. “Family and friends planning to gather for celebrations should get vaccinated as soon as possible, including getting a booster if you are eligible, as the COVID-19 vaccine is still the best ways to minimize risk from the virus. If you will not be fully vaccinated in time for the holidays, it is especially critical that you take additional steps to protect yourself and others around you by wearing a mask in public spaces, getting tested if you feel sick or have COVID-19 symptoms, and staying home if you aren’t feeling well.”

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Macy’s unveils 6 new floats for Thanksgiving Day Parade, including a 'floalloonicle'

BY Clodagh McGowan
UPDATED 5:16 PM ET Nov. 16, 2021

Moonachie, N.J. — A feast for your stomach — and for your eyes. That’s the theme of a festive creation, the Heinz Gravy Pirate boat, a completely new element for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade route.

“It’s a 'floalloonicle.' So it's part float, part 'balloonicle,'” said Will Coss, the executive producer of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. "So it’s got an interior structure and sort of s stage for our talent on top. But it also has a balloon element, which is the actual pirate ship itself."

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Poll: Americans still plan to cautiously celebrate the holidays amid COVID-19

BY Lydia Taylor

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The world is in its second year of the COVID-19 pandemic, and although much progress has been made with COVID-19 vaccines becoming more widely available, many U.S. families still plan to cautiously celebrate the holidays, according to a survey from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

The online survey by the Harris Poll on behalf of the Wexner Medical Center questioned 2,042 adults 18 and older between Oct. 29 and Nov. 1. Nearly half plan to require friends and family to wear masks during gatherings, which is down 67% compared to OSU's poll last year. Around three-fourths said they plan to celebrate with only members of their household.

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Fiserv Forum COVID-19 vaccine clinic brings in the herd

BY Aly Prouty

MILWUAKEE— Kids could not only get the COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, but they could also snap a photo with Bango and the Milwaukee Bucks' Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy.

The line to get a #COVIDvaccine at @FiservForum is already backing into @DeerDistrict The whole family can get vaccinated at today’s clinic now until 2 p.m. pic.twitter.com/tkRF12wfq4

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Data: Widespread COVID-19 in deer

BY Jason Fechner

MILWAUKEE— In the wake of new a new study showing that 80% of white-tailed deer tested positive for COVID-19, some researchers say the impact on the overall population should be minimal.

"From what we can tell, it's not impacting the health of the animals that much," Tony Goldberg, a professor and disease ecologist with the University of Wisconsin, told Spectrum News 1 on Friday. "We certainly haven't seen scores of deer dead on the side of the road."

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Research roundup: Here’s what we have learned about the coronavirus recently

BY Maddie Burakoff

MILWAUKEE — Over the past year and a half, the scientific world has seen a steady flow of research updating what we know about the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and how it affects humans.

Because the virus is so new, researchers are still grappling with many questions about its function. And because of the nature of the scientific process, no single study can completely answer those questions. Instead, new research is constantly challenging our understanding of the pandemic.

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COVID-19 vaccines for kids are here. What does that mean for Wisconsin?

BY Maddie Burakoff
UPDATED 11:00 AM ET Nov. 09, 2021

MILWAUKEE — It’s been almost a year since the COVID-19 vaccines started rolling out to change the pandemic game. And now, for the first time, young kids are eligible to start getting their shots.

After multiple rounds of discussions, federal health officials gave the go-ahead Tuesday for kids aged 5 to 11 to get the Pfizer vaccine, and kids across the country — including in Wisconsin — started rolling up their sleeves soon after.

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Health care providers encourage parents to move fast on COVID-19 vaccine

BY Jason Fechner

MILWAUKEE— With health care providers, schools and pharmacies across Wisconsin now ready to start vaccinating younger children against COVID-19, experts are warning parents not to wait a few weeks before setting up an appointment for their child or children.

"The vaccine, based on the study that was conducted by Pfizer, the vaccine is found to be safe and effective for children in this age group from 5 to 11," Mo Kharbat, Vice President of Pharmacy with SSM Health Wisconsin, told Spectrum News 1 Wednesday. "My advice to parents is to get their kids vaccinated— the sooner, the better— because it's two doses, and then people will develop enough immunity to be fully protected two weeks after the second dose, so it will take several weeks between now and the time they get that protection, so the sooner they start, the better."

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More COVID shot appointments for young kids to go online by Friday

BY Austin Landis

One day after the nation’s top public health agency gave a final green light to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID vaccine for young kids, federal health officials on Wednesday called the next phase of vaccinations ‘monumental’ and detailed the rollout of children’s vaccines expected over the coming days and weeks.

That includes adding shot appointments for kids 5 to 11 years-old on Vaccines.gov, the federal website where people around the country can find a coronavirus vaccine near them.

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Kids and the COVID vaccine: 10 things to know

BY Charles Duncan

Children as young as 5 can now get a COVID-19 vaccine.

This week, Pfizer passed the final hurdles to give its coronavirus vaccine to 5 to 11-year-olds. Kids 12 and up were already able to get vaccinated.

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Milwaukee is giving out rewards for second COVID-19 vaccine doses. Here's why the full vax matters

BY Maddie Burakoff
UPDATED 10:40 AM ET Nov. 03, 2021

MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Health Department is giving a nudge to those in the city who are still half-vaxxed against COVID-19.

Starting last week, any city of Milwaukee resident who gets their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna at one of the health department’s clinics — the Northwest Health Center, the Southside Health Center, or the recently launched Menomonee Valley COVID-19 site — has been eligible for a $25 U.S. Bank gift card.

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Does your holiday travel plan require a COVID-19 vaccination?

BY Jason Fechner
UPDATED 1:15 PM ET Oct. 28, 2021

MILWAUKEE — Now more than a year-and-a-half into the COVID-19 pandemic, travel rules during the upcoming holiday rush could be different than they were a year ago depending on your destination.

"Travelers have a very pent-up demand right now and are really wanting to go," Rose Gray, the Business Relationship Director with Fox World Travel.

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UW System to follow vaccine order for federal contractors

BY Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The University of Wisconsin System said Wednesday that it will comply with an executive order issued by President Joe Biden that requires federal contractors to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Biden’s order has convinced colleges across the country to institute vaccine requirements, even in some conservative states where governors and legislators oppose mandates. The order covers not only people directly paid by federal contracts, but also anyone who works to support them, such as those in human resources, billing and legal departments, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

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People face uptick in health issues, even if they've dodged COVID-19

BY Jason Fechner

MILWAUKEE — Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted most Americans' lives back in 2020, an unknown number of people have missed countless doctor's appointments, medical screenings and prescription refills.

"If you think about preventative health care, you're talking about breast cancer, colon cancer, cervical cancer screenings, blood cancer checks," said Dr. Sandra Kamnetz, Interim Senior Medical Director for Primary Care with UW Health. "If you go back to early 2020, if you were due for a mammogram and you put it off for a couple of years, you may now show up having your mammogram and have breast cancer, and it may be significantly advanced because you delayed it for 2-3 years."

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COVID-19 updates: Here’s the latest pandemic news to know in Wisconsin

BY Maddie Burakoff

MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin seems to be in a bit of a holding pattern with the pandemic.

After the delta variant spurred a steep rise in cases heading into the fall, Wisconsin’s infections have started to dip slightly. Hospitalizations and deaths have leveled off a bit, but remain much higher than over the summer.

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Is the worst of COVID-19 now behind us? We asked an expert.

BY Jason Fechner

MILWAUKEE — As the rate of new COVID-19 cases continues to slowly fall in Wisconsin and across the country, more medical experts are starting to think we're turning the corner on both the delta variant and the pandemic in general.

"It looks like there is a clear two-week trend peaking for the [COVID-19] delta virus in Wisconsin based on new case numbers," Dr. John Raymond, president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin, said. "And also it appears that our hospitalizations have peaked as well, so I think that's good news, but we also need to be careful that we don't celebrate prematurely."

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Wisconsin Historical Society captures our pandemic moment through COVID-19 posters

BY Maddie Burakoff
UPDATED 11:00 AM ET Oct. 06, 2021

MADISON, Wis. — Almost two years after COVID-19 started turning our world upside down, we still haven’t gotten back to normal.

But sooner or later, this pandemic, like every other historic event, will be in the rearview mirror, said Dave Desimone, director of Black Point Estate and Gardens for the Wisconsin Historical Society. And what we create now will make a big difference in what we see looking back, he said.

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Research roundup: Here’s what we have learned about the coronavirus recently

BY Maddie Burakoff
UPDATED 11:01 AM ET Oct. 05, 2021

MILWAUKEE — Over the past year and a half, the scientific world has seen a steady flow of research updating what we know about the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and how it affects humans.

Because the virus is so new, researchers are still grappling with many questions about its function. And because of the nature of the scientific process, no single study can completely answer those questions. Instead, new research is constantly challenging our understanding of the pandemic.

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Company says experimental pill reduces worst effects of COVID-19

BY Courtny Gerrish

MADISON, Wis.— Drugmaker Merck claimed its experimental COVID-19 pill can reduce hospitalizations and deaths by half.

The company said early results show people who take Molnupiravir within five days of developing symptoms have a reduced risk of dying or being hospitalized.

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Persuading the unvaccinated to get their shot

BY Jason Fechner

MILWAUKEE— With more than 75.5% of eligible Americans vaccinated against COVID-19, the work continues to help persuade unvaccinated Americans to go get a shot and help end the pandemic, and experts say that all may start with a simple conversation.

"We definitely are seeing that having conversations one-on-one, person-to-person from kind of that human 'I care about you' perspective has been a really effective means at making some change," Victoria Egizio, a behavioral health manager with UW Health, told Spectrum News 1 on Thursday. "When folks are scared and have [worries] on their mind and they've got hesitations, being able to talk to somebody who really understands them can be of help."

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Wisconsin health officials push Pfizer COVID-19 boosters

BY Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Every Wisconsin county had a high rate of COVID-19 infections on Thursday and intensive care units were at or near capacity in almost every hospital in the state, even though cases had been steadily dropping over the previous nine days.

Although the decline in cases is encouraging, it’s too early to say that Wisconsin has seen the worst of the latest surge caused by the highly contagious delta variant, said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, the state’s chief medical officer.

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Kids and COVID-19: The numbers are 'concerningly' high

BY Courtny Gerrish
UPDATED 9:00 AM ET Sep. 30, 2021

GREEN BAY, Wis. — It's that time of year when children start to get runny noses. But does the seemingly simple symptom warrant staying home from school and getting a COVID-19 test?

According to Aurora Health pediatrician Dr. Donald Beno, it's "yes" to both. Many children presenting with some congestion and a scratchy throat have later tested positive for the coronavirus.

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Need a boost? Here’s what to know about getting a third COVID-19 vaccine dose in Wisconsin

BY Maddie Burakoff
UPDATED 8:45 AM ET Sep. 30, 2021

MILWAUKEE — Some Wisconsinites can now roll up their sleeves — again — for a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine, the state announced this week.

The Department of Health Services on Monday released its guidelines for coronavirus booster shots, after the CDC made its final decisions last week on who can get another Pfizer shot right now. The rollout is prioritizing people who are at a higher risk based on their age, medical conditions or jobs.

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Some seniors uncertain about getting COVID-19 booster shots

BY Kathryn Larson

MADISON, Wis— While many seniors and those with compromised immune systems gladly rolled up their sleeves for another COVID-19 shot in the arm— some believe they don't need it, especially if they have already had the illness before.

John Doll, 72, had a terrible bout with COVID-19 shortly after the pandemic began. He was put on a ventilator and almost died.

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'People should be excited': Wisconsin health officials clear up COVID-19 confusion

BY Jason Fechner
UPDATED 9:30 AM ET Sep. 29, 2021

MILWAUKEE — As the White House COVID-19 Response Team Tuesday confirmed that more than 400,000 eligible Americans have already gotten their Pfizer booster shot over the past few days, public health experts in Wisconsin did their best to push those numbers higher while addressing confusion tied to the booster shot rollout so far.

"People should be excited about the booster shot," Aaron Ruff, public health educator with the Marathon County Health Department, told Spectrum News 1 on Tuesday. "It's a great way for people who are fully vaccinated to get that extra boost to their immune system."

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CDC study: Side effects from 3rd booster dose similar to those from 2nd dose

BY Spectrum News Staff

People who received a third dose of a COVID-19 vaccine experienced side effects after the shot at similar rates to those who received two doses, according to a study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a promising sign about vaccine safety as booster doses roll out nationwide for millions of Americans.

"The frequency and type of side effects were similar to those seen after the second vaccine doses and were mostly mild or moderate and short-lived," CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing on Tuesday.

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Creative vaccination clinic serves Dane Co. Hmong community

BY Kathryn Larson

MADISON, Wis.— With more than 100,000 Hmong residents living in Wisconsin and thousands of families right in Dane County, a targeted outreach has emerged in a specialty grocery store, all to ensure the health and safety of those citizens during the pandemic

All September — every Friday a mobile unit from Public Health Madison Dane County sets up at the east side Oriental Market, offering the COVID-19 shot. Hmong Institute CEO Peng Her said this special clinic offers a helping hand to his community.

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Fond du Lac officer, 26, dies of coronavirus complications

BY Associated Press

FOND DU LAC, Wis. (AP) — A 26-year-old Fond du Lac police officer has died of COVID-19 complications, according to his department.

The death of Officer Joseph Kurer on Wednesday came a day after his second child was born, according to a statement from Chief Aaron Goldstein.

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COVID-19 updates: Here’s the latest pandemic news to know in Wisconsin

BY Maddie Burakoff
UPDATED 2:15 PM ET Sep. 22, 2021

MILWAUKEE — Wisconsin hit a grim milestone Monday: More than 700,000 residents have tested positive for COVID-19 over the course of the pandemic.

The U.S. also crossed a symbolic threshold this week. Over 675,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, making the current pandemic deadlier than the Spanish influenza outbreaks of a century ago.

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Wisconsin lawmaker Jacque out of hospital after COVID-19

BY Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin state Sen. Andre Jacque was discharged Tuesday after a five-week hospital stay that included being intubated and placed on a ventilator due to pneumonia after contracting COVID-19.

“Sen. Jacque is doing much better,” his spokesman Matt Tompach said in a statement Tuesday. “He is in touch with his staff on legislative and district issues, and he is reaching out to his friends and colleagues.”

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Doctor worries about confusion tied to COVID-19 booster shots

BY Jason Fechner

MILWAUKEE— If you've been confused by the recent releases of COVID-19 booster shot data and pharmaceutical companies' still-pending applications for emergency use authorizations from the CDC, you're not alone.

"I think it is [confusing], especially when there are conflicting reports come out," said Dr. Bill Hartman with UW Health. "Just a couple of weeks ago, out of the White House, they were suggesting that boosters would be available to everyone. Now that report's been walked back by the FDA and the CDC. Then, news today that the Johnson & Johnson [vaccine]— two shots are better than one shot— so should people be getting a second shot? There's a lot of information, a lot of moving parts— I think simplifying it and coming out with a standard set of guidelines is really what we need to do."

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Vax FAQ: Updates on vaccines for kids, booster shots and other developments

BY Charles Duncan

As state leaders continue to push to get more people vaccinated, there’s still a lot of confusion for those who have already gotten the shots and for parents of young children who can’t get vaccinated.

News on the coronavirus vaccines has been moving quickly. Federal regulators have been debating when people should get booster shots. New data recently showed the Pfizer vaccine to be safe and effective in children as young as 5.

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Health experts advocate for safety steps at Lambeau Field

BY Jason Fechner

MILWAUKEE— As cases of COVID-19 continue to spike across Wisconsin, the Green Bay Packers are preparing to welcome back fans to Lambeau Field for Monday night's home opener against the Detroit Lions.

"Our recommendations for anyone attending Monday night's game— nothing new, no news here— but if you're not feeling well, if you've had close contact with someone who's sick, if you feel you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or anything else for that matter, our recommendation would be to stay home," Claire Paprocki, a public health strategist with the Brown County Health Department, told Spectrum News 1 Friday.

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Your back-to-school guide on the latest science of kids and COVID-19

BY Maddie Burakoff
UPDATED 6:30 PM ET Sep. 16, 2021

MILWAUKEE — As kids head back into classrooms this fall, they’re not the only ones who should be brushing up on some science.

Navigating the school year while keeping students safe is a delicate balance. And knowing what’s fact and what’s fiction when it comes to kids and COVID-19 can get complicated.

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Wisconsin doctor warns of packed ICUs, ERs thanks to COVID-19

BY Jason Fechner

MILWAUKEE — As Wisconsin registered more than 3,400 new cases of COVID-19 for a second day in a row Thursday, doctors statewide continued to warn of the ripple effect that's putting great strain on healthcare systems statewide, especially when it comes to ICU and ER availability.

"We're seeing a surge in our COVID patients— the Delta variant is really driving up cases ," Dr. Kyle Martin, an emergency department physician at SSM Health, told Spectrum News 1 on Thursday. "On top of that, we're still seeing standard emergency department cases— appendectomies, heart attacks, strokes— from patients who are coming in, so it's really a perfect storm right now and our volumes are at an all-time high."

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About 30 parents express concerns over Carroll University's COVID-19 policies

BY Megan Carpenter

WAUKESHA, Wis.— Schools and colleges across Wisconsin have varying rules when it comes to COVID-19 this academic year. Some require masks, but not vaccinations. Some require both. Others require weekly testing for those who are not vaccinated. The list goes on.

Carroll University leadership chose to require masks for all students and staff, as well as weekly COVID-19 testing for anyone who is unvaccinated.

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Scroll with caution: Your guide to vetting COVID-19 news on social media

BY Maddie Burakoff
UPDATED 10:15 AM ET Sep. 13, 2021

MILWAUKEE — If your social media feeds are swamped with talk about the COVID-19 vaccines — you’re not alone.

According to a new survey from the Pew Research Center, almost half of Americans are getting vaccine news through social media. Around 30% said they’re getting “some” vaccine information this way, while 18% said they’re getting “a lot” of it.

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Wisconsin attorney weighs in on latest vaccine mandate

BY Katarina Velazquez

MILWAUKEE— Businesses with 100 or more employees will have to ensure that employees are either vaccinated or take weekly COVID-19 tests, in accordance with the latest mandate from the Biden administration. This could bring some uncertainty to many workplaces, especially if this means they could potentially lose some of their employees.

Milwaukee labor and employment attorney Erik Eisenmann said President Joe Biden’s new mandate could shift the way employers handle COVID-19 in the workplace.

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Nass asks GOP leaders to sue UW System over COVID policies

BY Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Sen. Steve Nass officially asked the Legislature’s Republican leaders Tuesday to sue the University of Wisconsin System after system officials refused to submit their COVID-19 protocols to his committee for approval.

Nass sent a letter to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu demanding they file a lawsuit forcing system leaders to submit their policies to the Legislature’s rules committee. Nass, a Republican and longtime UW critic, co-chairs the committee.

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Evers extends $100 incentive for COVID-19 vaccinations

BY Associated Press
UPDATED 10:36 AM ET Sep. 05, 2021

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s $100 reward program for those receiving the COVID-19 vaccine will be extended two weeks until Sept. 19, Gov. Tony Evers announced Friday.

Also, the state’s second-highest ranking health official who has been the public face for fighting the pandemic announced she is retiring in a week. The departure of Julie Willems Van Dijk, 61, means that the state’s two top health officials at the start of the pandemic in 2020 have now left.

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UW System faces deadline for COVID-19 plans

BY Anthony DaBruzzi
UPDATED 7:46 AM ET Sep. 03, 2021

MADISON, Wis. — As students begin to move in and head back to campus, they will be asked to follow some COVID-19 safety protocols, but some in the state Legislature want to have a say over those rules first, and time is running out.

Republicans on the Legislature's rules committee set Thursday as the deadline for the UW System to submit plans, but interim president Tommy Thompson, a Republican himself, has had no intention of doing so.

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Nurses union calls for reforms, incentives to deal with shortage

BY Jason Fechner

MILWAUKEE— As cases of COVID-19 continue to climb and ICU beds in Wisconsin remain in short supply, the state and rest of the country continue to navigate an ongoing nursing shortage.

"Nursing has been a very difficult job for a long time now," Jamie Lucas, executive director of the Wisconsin Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals, told Spectrum News 1 on Wednesday. "The model of staffing in a hospital oftentimes has more to do with productivity and efficiency measures that are more suitable for a factory than a hospital, and the pandemic has lifted the veil on this and exacerbated the problem."

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This is what school reopening plans are in 10 major Wisconsin school districts

BY Aly Prouty
UPDATED 1:00 PM ET Aug. 27, 2021

WISCONSIN— The 2021-22 school year is just around the corner— or, in some cases, already here.

We rounded up what you need to know for fall if you live in Milwaukee, Madison, Kenosha, Racine, Green Bay, Appleton, Waukesha, Eau Claire, Janesville or Sheboygan. Plus, where to find other districts' policies and re-opening plans.

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Supreme Court blocks Biden ban, allows evictions to resume during pandemic

BY Associated Press
UPDATED 10:40 PM ET Aug. 26, 2021

The Supreme Court's conservative majority is allowing evictions to resume across the United States, blocking the Biden administration from enforcing a temporary ban that was put in place because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Roughly 3.5 million people in the United States said they faced eviction in the next two months, according to Census Bureau data from early August.

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COVID-19 mask protest shuts down Wisconsin school board

BY Jason Fechner , Aly Prouty and Associated Press

OSHKOSH, Wis.— Oshkosh Area School District officials postponed a school board meeting after a group of protesters stormed the room and refused to wear masks.

After initially planning to begin the 2021-2022 school year with mask wearing being optional throughout OASD, the administration changed course several days ago to now require masks in school buildings.

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Oshkosh superintendent discusses about-face on mask mandate

BY Jason Fechner

MILWAUKEE— After initially planning to begin the 2021-2022 school year with mask wearing being optional throughout the Oshkosh Area School District, the administration changed course several days ago to now require masks in school buildings.

"We've had a lot of feedback, all of which we've responded to and taken seriously," Dr. Bryan Davis, superintendent for OASD, told Spectrum News 1. "It comes down to what we're seeing from a data standpoint. When we were making our earlier decision and decided to look at our face masks as optional, we were looking at some data points in June and July which were looking very favorably."

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COVID-19 questions: Should I get a vaccine even if I’ve been infected?

BY Maddie Burakoff
UPDATED 11:45 AM ET Aug. 25, 2021

MILWAUKEE — Tens of millions of Americans have survived a COVID-19 infection.

Some of those survivors are relying on their natural immunity to ward off catching the virus again: In a recent Gallup survey, having a previous COVID-19 infection was one of the main reasons Americans said they didn’t plan to get the shots.

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Doctors warn against livestock drug as COVID-19 treatment

BY Jason Fechner

MILWAUKEE— The FDA this week again warned Americans not to take ivermectin— a drug primarily used as a livestock dewormer— after various cable news guests and politicians, including Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, have continued to advocate for its possible use as a COVID-19 treatment for months.

"For COVID-19, they should go to their doctor and if they don't have a doctor, get a doctor," Dr. David Gummin, medical director of the Wisconsin Poison Center, told Spectrum News 1 Tuesday.

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Thompson won’t give lawmakers control of UW’s COVID policies

BY Associated Press
UPDATED 4:00 PM ET Aug. 24, 2021

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — University of Wisconsin System President Tommy Thompson pushed back Tuesday against Republican lawmakers who claim campuses need their permission to implement COVID-19 policies, insisting university leaders don’t need legislative approval to manage the schools — a major break from his party’s stance against pandemic protocols.

A key Republican lawmaker promised to pursue a lawsuit. But Thompson, a former GOP governor who served as health secretary under President George W. Bush, said he would not cede control of the system to fellow Republicans who run the Legislature.

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Cardinal Burke off ventilator, still hospitalized with COVID

BY Associated Press

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — A high-ranking Roman Catholic cardinal who was hospitalized after contracting COVID-19 is off a ventilator and is being moved out of intensive care, according to officials at a Wisconsin shrine that he founded.

Cardinal Raymond Burke was to return to a regular hospital room Saturday at an undisclosed location, the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse said in a statement.

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UW Health researchers say pain is observed as long-lasting symptom of COVID-19 infection

BY Alyson Bruner

Wisconsin experts have found that chronic pain is a symptom associated with long-lasting cases of COVID-19, according to a literature review by researchers at UW Health.

Pain has been linked with COVID-19 infections since the pandemic, but long-lasting chronic pain indicates the virus may impact the human body in ways we are just starting to understand, according to Dr. Alaa Abd-Elsayed, associate professor of anesthesiology, UW School of Medicine and Public Health, and medical director of the Pain Management Clinic at UW Health.

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Conservatives ask justices to toss Dane County mask mandate

BY Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A conservative law firm asked the state Supreme Court to toss out Dane County’s new mask mandate Wednesday, saying county health officials overstepped their authority.

Public Health Madison and Dane County, the joint city-county health department, issued a requirement Tuesday that everyone older than 2 wear a mask indoors as a way of slowing COVID-19 cases caused by the delta variant. The order goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday.

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Doctors look to boost vaccine numbers in pregnant women

BY Courtny Gerrish

GREEN BAY, Wis — Health care professionals are putting out an urgent call for pregnant women to get the vaccine. Expecting mothers are considered at high risk for more severe illness from COVID-19.

Dr. Brian Dobbins, an OBGYN at Aurora BayCare’s Women’s Center, is spreading the message about the vaccine and pregnancy.

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At Midwest state fairs no masks required, vaccines are free

BY Associated Press

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Nestled between corn dog stands, animal barns and booths touting hot tubs and John Deere tractors, a Hy-Vee pharmacist and several nurses have been administering COVID-19 vaccines at the Iowa State Fair to anyone eligible that wants one.

Their booth didn’t have the long lines of more popular attractions, but by Monday more than 150 people had received a shot since the 11-day fair started on Thursday. More than 400,000 people attended the fair in its first four days.

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Research roundup: Here’s what we have learned about coronavirus recently

BY Maddie Burakoff

MILWAUKEE — Over the past year and a half, the scientific world has seen a steady flow of research updating what we know about the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and how it affects humans.

Because the virus is so new, researchers are still grappling with many questions about its function. And because of the nature of the scientific process, no single study can completely answer those questions. Instead, new research is constantly challenging our understanding of the pandemic.

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Coronavirus cases linked to Forest County tribal event

BY Associated Press

CRANDON, Wis. (AP) — Several tribes in Wisconsin are urging people to get a coronavirus test if they attended an American Indian event last weekend in Forest County.

The Potawatomi says at least two people who contracted COVID-19 attended the annual Meno Keno Ma Ge Wen Powwow in Carter Aug. 6-8.

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Breaking down the potential for COVID-19 booster shots

BY Jason Fechner
UPDATED 6:49 PM ET Aug. 12, 2021

MILWAUKEE— Before the Food and Drug Administration's anticipated announcement on Friday that it will authorize COVID-19 booster shots for immunocompromised individuals, doctors and medical experts in Wisconsin Thursday applauded the move.

"There's enough data that shows that people with immunocompromised status who may have cancer or other conditions that lowers their immunity— they are not as protected after two doses," Mo Kharbat, Vice President of Pharmacy Services with SSM Health said. "A third dose will boost their immune system."

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Here’s what you need to know about COVID-19 in Wisconsin this week

BY Maddie Burakoff

MILWAUKEE — “We do not have good news to report this week.”

That’s how Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett described the current COVID-19 trends at a Tuesday briefing. After months of promising decline, coronavirus numbers in Milwaukee — and across the entire state of Wisconsin — have headed back in the wrong direction in the past few weeks.

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Wisconsin governor: State employees must wear masks indoors

BY Associated Press
UPDATED 6:45 PM ET Aug. 04, 2021

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ administration has ordered state workers to wear masks when they’re working indoors, as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.

The Department of Administration issued the mandate on July 30. It goes into effect on Thursday.

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Advocate Aurora Health requiring vaccinations for workers

BY Associated Press

DOWNERS GROVE, Ill. (AP) — Advocate Aurora Health will require its 75,000 employees in Illinois and Wisconsin to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by Oct. 15, the hospital group announced Wednesday.

With the highly contagious Delta variant spreading nationwide, Advocate Aurora inpatient COVID-19 hospitalizations have increased five-fold over the past three weeks, and the system’s test positivity rate is the highest it’s been since January, the system said.

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Wisconsin’s new virus cases top 1,000 for 1st time in months

BY Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The number of new daily COVID-19 cases reported in Wisconsin has surpassed 1,000 for the first time in months, fueled by the spread of the more contagious delta variant, health officials said Friday.

The Wisconsin Department of Health reported 1,058 new cases of COVID-19 in the state on Friday — the highest since April 8. The number of cases that stem from the delta variant has doubled.

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Kroger 'strongly encourages' employees, customers to wear masks regardless of vaccination status

BY Bryce Shreve

OHIO — Citing the recent surge of COVID-19 cases nationwide due in large part to the delta variant, Kroger is now encouraging all customers and employees to wear masks in stores, regardless of vaccination status.

In a statement from a Kroger spokesperson, the company said its stance was informed by updated guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released this week.

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City of Milwaukee Health Department advises to mask up, regardless of vaccination status, in certain settings

BY Aly Prouty

MILWAUKEE — The City of Milwaukee Health Department released new mask recommendations following guidelines issued by the Center for Disease Control earlier this week.

On Tuesday, July 27, the CDC recommended that those in areas where transmission was either considered "substantial" or "high" wear a mask in indoor, public places, regardless of vaccination status.

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'The earth is not flat, and the vaccine works': Milwaukee's back-to-school health fairs to focus on vaccinations

BY Andrew Havranek
UPDATED 7:31 AM ET Jul. 29, 2021

MILWAUKEE — It is still summer, and school is still more than a month away for most students across Wisconsin. But that isn't stopping conversations about health among local officials.

“If you’re a kid in the city of Milwaukee, you’re probably not thinking, ‘Oh, I can’t wait to go back to school,’” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett Wednesday morning.

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DHS advises new COVID-19 guidelines

BY John Lynch

MILWAUKEE — As coronavirus case levels rise in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) issued updated guidelines on COVID-19 prevention.

In a press release issued today, DHS provided more information about the preventing the spread of the delta variant, which is more infectious than the original COVID-19 strain.

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Marquette president tests positive for COVID-19

BY John Lynch

MILWAUKEE — Michael Lovell, president of Marquette University, took to Twitter to announce that he has tested positive for COVID-19 Tuesday night.

Dear Marquette community, I’m writing today to share some personal news. After experiencing mild cold-like symptoms, I took the responsible step of getting a COVID-19 test, and although I am fully vaccinated, the results came back positive this afternoon.

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Ascension Wisconsin employees are now required to roll up their sleeves for a COVID-19 vaccine

BY Aly Prouty

MILWAUKEE — Ascension Wisconsin is going to require all of its employees to be vaccinated for COVID-19, becoming the first healthcare system in the southeastern Wisconsin region to do so, according to officials.

In a statement, Ascension said that employees must complete the COVID-19 vaccine series no later than Nov. 12, 2021. This applies to employees regardless of whether or not they provide direct patient care. Additionally, both on-site and remote employees will be required to be vaccinated.

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States scale back virus reporting just as cases surge

BY Associated Press

Several states scaled back their reporting of COVID-19 statistics this month just as cases across the country started to skyrocket, depriving the public of real-time information on outbreaks, cases, hospitalizations and deaths in their communities.

The shift to weekly instead of daily reporting in Florida, Nebraska, Iowa and South Dakota marked a notable shift during a pandemic in which coronavirus dashboards have become a staple for Americans closely tracking case counts and trends to navigate a crisis that has killed more than 600,000 people in the U.S.

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Tell us: What's your vaccine story?

BY Spectrum News Staff
UPDATED 3:00 PM ET Jul. 24, 2021

More than five million people in Wisconsin have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Are you one of them?

We're collecting stories about people's vaccine experiences for Spectrum News 1. If you're interested in sharing your story, fill out this form so our reporters can get in touch!

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Wisconsin doctor warns of delta variant in schools

BY Jorge Rodas

BROWN COUNTY, Wis.— A Green Bay area doctor warns the COVID-19 delta variant could impact schools this fall.

That’s why Dr. Ashok Rai, president and CEO of Prevea Health, said more people need to be vaccinated before the start of the school year, including children 12 and older.

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Unvaccinated in Wisconsin are ‘sitting duck’ for COVID-19

BY Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and the state’s top health leaders on Thursday urged anyone age 12 or older who will be attending school in the fall to get vaccinated as soon as possible for COVID-19, as cases surge in the state due to the more contagious delta variant.

The call comes amid a growing concern in Wisconsin and nationally about growing numbers of COVID-19 cases. In Wisconsin, the seven-day average of new confirmed cases was 242 as of Thursday, which was three times as high as two-and-a-half weeks ago. There have been 7,393 deaths from the disease in Wisconsin since the start of the pandemic, with an average of one per day over the past week.

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WHO leader says virus risk is inevitable at Tokyo Olympics

BY Associated Press

TOKYO (AP) — The Tokyo Olympics should not be judged by the tally of COVID-19 cases that arise because eliminating risk is impossible, the head of the World Health Organization told sports officials Wednesday as events began in Japan.

How infections are handled is what matters most, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a speech to an International Olympic Committee meeting.

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Doctors recommend more safety steps as COVID-19 cases climb

BY Jason Fechner

MILWAUKEE— As the more contagious and potentially dangerous Delta variant of COVID-19 continues to spread, becoming the dominant strain in the U.S., and with more unvaccinated Wisconsinites taking fewer precautions, case counts have started to climb again.

"The numbers of newly vaccinated people are dropping dramatically," Dr. John Raymond, president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin told Spectrum News 1. "We've kind of run into a wall just in terms of the number of people that are comfortable being vaccinated right now..."

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UW Health doctor explains why COVID-19 cases are climbing

BY Jason Fechner



MILWAUKEE— As Wisconsin's COVID-19 case curve continues to climb statewide this week after dropping off significantly over the past few months, and as the vaccination rate statewide has now slowed to a crawl, frontline healthcare workers say they're frustrated.

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Research roundup: Here’s what we have learned about coronavirus recently

BY Maddie Burakoff
UPDATED 2:00 PM ET Jul. 05, 2021

MILWAUKEE — Over the past year and a half, the scientific world has seen a steady flow of research updating what we know about the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and how it affects humans.

Because the virus is so new, researchers are still grappling with many questions about its function. And because of the nature of the scientific process, no single study can completely answer those questions. Instead, new research is constantly challenging our understanding of the pandemic.

Read More

Wisconsin doctor helps find added blood donation benefit

BY Jason Fechner
UPDATED 8:18 AM ET Jul. 03, 2021

MILWAUKEE — As countless blood donation centers across the country and here in Wisconsin continue to call for more people to donate and restock the dwindling reserves, a Wisconsin doctor has helped to find an added benefit for COVID-19 survivors to donate their convalescent plasma, specifically to be used for blood cancer patients who'd also contracted COVID-19.

"[I]t showed a huge difference," Dr. Michael Thompson, an oncologist and researcher with Advocate Aurora Health told Spectrum News 1. "[T]he patients who got convalescent plasma had about a 50% reduction in death..."

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UW Health doctor addresses vaccine, variant concerns

BY Jason Fechner

MILWAUKEE — As the COVID-19 vaccination rate slows across Wisconsin and the rest of the country, Dr. Jeff Pothof, the chief quality and safety officer for UW Health, implored Wisconsinites to seek out a vaccine ASAP, especially as variants continue to spread around the world.

"We understand that these vaccines are incredibly effective, even against variants," Dr. Pothof told Spectrum News 1. "And the risk of adverse events are remarkably low-- single digits per million doses, compared to if a million people got COVID-19, 18,000 of them would die."

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Doctor blasts Wisconsin senator’s COVID vaccine skepticism

BY Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a vocal critic of COVID-19 vaccine mandates, announced plans Friday to hold a news conference bringing together people who claim to have had adverse reactions to the vaccine.

His plans drew renewed criticism from doctors who have been accusing Johnson for months of advancing conspiracy theories and putting people’s health at risk.

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UW Health weighs in on new COVID-19 guidance for 'long-haulers'

BY Jason Fechner

MILWAUKEE — As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, doctors and scientists worldwide continue to study the impact and effects of COVID-19, most admit there's still a lot to learn about the virus and complications tied to it.

"Other post-viral syndromes do exist and we don't necessarily know a lot about those either," Dr. Matt Anderson, UW Health's senior medical director of primary care, told Spectrum News 1. "A lot of it is supportive treatment management. Why it occurs? How specifically [can] we best address it in a way that offers more immediate relief? It's something we're still needing to get more information about going forward."

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Wisconsin DHS is tracking B.1.617.2 variant

BY Aly Prouty

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Department of Health Services confirmed Wednesday that another variant of the coronavirus was detected in Wisconsin.

The variant strain, referred to as B.1.617.2, is believed to have originated in India and was first detected there in October 2020. Wisconsin DHS said in a statement that the B.1.617.2 variant is responsible for the recent rise of COVID-19 cases in the United Kingdom.

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Wisconsin bill forbids requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination

BY Spectrum News Staff and Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Assembly planned to vote Wednesday on a Republican-backed bill that would prohibit businesses, colleges and universities, governments and anyone else in the state from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

The measure banning so-called vaccine passports must also pass the Senate and be signed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers before becoming law. Evers has signaled that he will veto the bill.

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LOCAL RESOURCES
Symptoms

The 2019 novel coronavirus may cause mild to severe respiratory symptoms like:

  • cough
  • fever
  • trouble breathing and
  • pneumonia

The CDC believes symptoms may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure to the virus.

(Source: CDC)