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Evers And Republicans Meet, As More Wisconsinites Share Experiences With COVID-19

Chuck Quirmbach
A sign outside Aurora Sinai Medical Center, in Milwaukee, in June.

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and Republican legislative leaders met Friday, to try again for agreement on COVID-19 legislation. The meeting comes as state health officials announced another 83 deaths Thursday in Wisconsin, due to the coronavirus.

The discussion also takes place as more people officially listed as recovered from COVID are warning about its dangers.

The 83 new deaths bring Wisconsin's total to nearly 2,900.  The roughly 6,600 confirmed new cases announced Thursday raise the state total to almost 339,000.  

A state website says 77% of people infected recover. But that doesn't mean they forget what they went through. 

Marquette University employee Tim Cigelske said during a media call Thursday that he, his wife and their two children had COVID-19 earlier this month. Cigelske, a long-distance runner, says he doesn't know how they were infected. But, he remembers how he felt.

"Just two days after running 12 miles and feeling fine, I woke up and didn't know I could get out of bed," Cigelske said. "My body weighed 1,000 pounds. My eyes felt like someone was pushing them into my sockets. My nose was on fire."

Cigelske says his wife had even worse symptoms. He says the couple is feeling better now.

"But my wife still has lingering headaches, and I worry about any unknowns like blood clots, or the long-haul symptoms like exhaustion," Cigelske said. "And I have friends I really worry about, who are in the hospital and ICU."

Credit Chuck Quirmbach
Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow speaks to the media on Nov. 17.

Cigelske is not the only one talking about COVID-19 experiences. Earlier this week, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow spoke about his family's bout with the virus in October.

“My wife lost her sense of taste and smell, like you hear. My son got the sniffles. He lost his sense of smell. But at 23, I don't think he ever really had it," Farrow said. "Me, it was fever. I had three days where my fever was about 102.5 [degrees.] Then, I had the week of fatigue afterwards."

Farrow says his family was able to isolate at home and take care of themselves.

But City of Greenfield Health Director Darren Rausch says that's not true for everyone. He says what are called social determinants of health are still playing a role in the pandemic. The World Health Organization says the determinants are conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. Money, power and resources shape the conditions.

Rausch says those come into play when looking at new cases of COVID in Milwaukee County over a 14-day period by race and ethnicity.

"And while I've highlighted in the past the white population has the most cases, we continue to see the highest impact in terms of COVID disease rate in our Hispanic and Latinx populations,” Rausch said.  

Credit Screenshot
Lauren Ancel Meyers speak during a UWM webcast.

A Milwaukee-raised mathematical biologist has also looked at the most vulnerable. University of Texas Professor Lauren Ancel Meyers has been leading a team using data science, math, and computing to measure the speed and severity of the pandemic, and forecast COVID-19 deaths across the country. 

Meyers said on a UW-Milwaukee webcast Thursday that one her studies focuses on Texas construction workers, many of whom are Latino. She says they show a higher rate of infections and severe outcomes.

"It's really tragic how we keep throwing our essential workers under bus, and it's really up to us, up to our communities to continue to try to do things to protect these communities," Meyers said. "Including incentivizing workers if they or any member of their household has the slightest symptom of COVID-19, and providing alternative work accommodations for people with known high-risk conditions that are likely to wind up in a hospital or worse if they get infected."

The Wisconsin Hospital Association is one of the business groups pressuring Democratic Gov. Evers and Republican legislative leaders to talk to each other about possible new state laws. The two sides have differences over things like worker's compensation for employees sick with COVID. 

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