WUWM News

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

Milwaukee County is reaching out to senior citizens in two Milwaukee zip codes with large numbers of low-income Black and Latino residents, in hopes of getting more of those older individuals their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine. The outreach is going to the 53206 zip code on Milwaukee's north side, and 53204 zip code on the near south side.

On Thursday, Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said the goal is to remove barriers to access.

Teran Powell

An art exhibit exploring what it means to be Latinx in the United States, opened Friday at Latino Arts, Inc. on Milwaukee’s south side. It’s called "Hyphenated Americans," and it features the works of 17 Latinx artists from Milwaukee.

The goal of the exhibit is to show that Latinx cultures are not monolithic.

Visitors can expect to see paintings, digital artwork, and photography. There’s artwork hanging from the walls and in the center of the gallery.

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State health officials gave a little more insight Thursday on when people under 65 with pre-existing conditions will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Deputy Department of Health Services Secretary Julie Willems-Van Dijk said as of Thursday, nearly 60% of people age 65 and older in Wisconsin received one or more doses of the vaccine, as part of group 1A.

Districts across the state started to vaccinate teachers Monday, as part of group 1B.

The CDC has recommended people age 16-64 with preexisting medical conditions be part of phase IC.

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Wisconsin Republicans are reviving efforts to pass a resolution to call a convention of the states to consider making changes to the U.S. Constitution.

A Wisconsin Assembly committee held a public hearing Wednesday on the proposal, which is identical to one that passed the Assembly last session. It died in the Senate.

The full Legislature in 2017 passed a resolution that allowed for calling a convention to consider a balanced budget amendment. The latest proposal is more expansive.

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Around 47,000 doses of the newly approved Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine are expected to arrive in Wisconsin next week. While health officials are pushing the positives of the vaccine — it’s only one dose versus two and the fact that it can be shipped anywhere because it only requires refrigeration and not ultra-cold storage — some people have concerns.

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This legislative cycle, Republicans around the country have proposed hundreds of bills that would restrict access to voting, taking aim at issues like absentee voting, voter registration and disability access. Wisconsin Republicans are part of that trend, releasing their plans as well.

Emily Files / WUWM

Updated 10:39 a.m.  

Within the next two weeks, Milwaukee plans to vaccinate all educators living or working in the city who want a shot.

The Milwaukee Health Department announced Tuesday that it expects to receive 17,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses between March 1-15 that will be used for school and childcare workers. Volunteers from Children's Hospital and Medical College of Wisconsin will help staff the clinics. 

Susan Bence / WUWM

Linda Halley is general manager of Gwenyn Hill Farm in the Town of Delafield. "Gwenyn" means honeybee in Welsh. Halley says the name is a nod to generations of people who farmed this lush valley, starting back in 1842.

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President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package passed the House of Representatives over the weekend with the backing of all three Wisconsin House Democrats, and none of the state's five Republican Representatives.

The spotlight this week, and maybe next, will be on the U.S. Senate. Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin is expected to vote for the measure, while it's predicted Republican Ron Johnson will oppose it.

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Local health officials are optimistic Wisconsin is on the road to increased supply of the COVID-19 vaccine. They say that’s the only way to get shots in the arms of more high-priority groups.

Production is ramping up all over the country on the two vaccines already approved by the FDA and in use. But a new Johnson & Johnson vaccine is expected to receive emergency use authorization possibly as early as this weekend.

Greenfield Health Director Darren Rausch said additional doses of the COVID-19 vaccine are necessary to meet demand.

Courtesy of Chantia Lewis

A Milwaukee alderwoman wants the city to adopt a “universal basic income” pilot program.

The proposal by Ald. Chantia Lewis would supplement low-income families’ wages, so they’re making a living wage. She says cities across the country are beginning to experiment with universal basic income programs, and she wants Milwaukee to do the same.

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Wisconsin health officials are creating a statewide COVID-19 vaccination schedule for school employees, in an effort to prioritize underserved communities.

>>Wisconsin Educators And Childcare Workers Next In Line For Vaccine, Beginning March 1

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

Updated 12:03 p.m. CST

Foxconn and Fisker, a California-based electric vehicle company rebooted after a bankruptcy, announced they've signed a memorandum of understanding to build 250,000 electric vehicles (EVs) per year. The cars would be sold in North America and other parts of the world.

Just where the EVs would be built has touched off a lot of speculation.

Student Conservation Association

On Monday evening, Nearby Nature Milwaukee held their second Annual African American Environmental Pioneer Awards celebration to honor people in Milwaukee who are helping to create a healthier and more racially just environment.

Sylvia Wilson, program director of  Teens Grow Greens, was one of the honorees.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

There's been a shifting of a major COVID-19 vaccination site in the Milwaukee area and more sites are coming — eventually. Some of the locations could help ease racial disparities in vaccinations that include fewer Black and Latino people receiving the vaccine than their percentages in the population.

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Now that close to half of Wisconsinites age 65 and older have received at least one shot, the Department of Health Services is opening eligibility to more people in Phase 1b. It's starting with school and daycare employees – an estimated 225,000 people – who will be eligible March 1.

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A Wisconsin researcher has taken on the grim task of looking at how many years, cumulatively, COVID-19 has cut from people's lives. The answer just for last year, and for the U.S. and 80 other countries with good health statistics, is more than 20 million years. 

The co-authors of the study came up with their lost life metric by subtracting the age of everyone who died of COVID-19 from the life expectancy in the dead person's country, taking gender into account.

Maayan Silver / WUWM

A few months ago, Wisconsin had one of the highest per capita rates of COVID-19 in the country. Health officials were pleading with people to wear masks, socially distance and practice good hand hygiene. On Monday, the state reported zero COVID deaths and the lowest number of new cases since June.

Milwaukee County Emergency Medical Services Director Dr. Ben Weston says the first thing this means is that the community is doing a good job.

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A three-year battle between solar energy advocates and WE Energies is back before the Wisconsin Public Service Commission, and the state regulatory agency also known as the PSC, wants to hear your thoughts by Tuesday night.

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We all know that culturally, there are different ways of communicating. When it comes to Black people, since slavery there has been a reliance on a head nod to communicate safety. To some, it may look like a simple gesture but for Black men especially, it can be a way of saying: “I see you and all is well.”

WUWM's LaToya Dennis organized a roundtable conversation with Anthony Courtney, Andre Ellis, Trevis Hardman and Kwabena Antoine Nixon to talk about the head nod.

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A vaccine milestone has been reached in Wisconsin. More than a million COVID-19 vaccines have been administered. The progress is to be celebrated, according to Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk.

“This is really exciting news, and we have a great team to thank for it. We also still need your patience and your perseverance going forward. It will take more time, but everyone in our state will have the opportunity to get vaccinated,” said Willems Van Dijk.

Chuck Quirmbach

A local health official is questioning whether the state should delay plans to start giving the COVID-19 vaccine to teachers, childcare workers, and other groups on about March 1.   

Darren Rausch directs the city of Greenfield Health Department. He said many local health directors continue to worry about insufficient supplies of the vaccine, and have communicated that to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Rausch said seniors are the main group targeted to get the vaccine this month, yet barely a third have been able to do so in Milwaukee County.

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University of Wisconsin System Interim President Tommy Thompson is directing campuses to plan for a mostly in-person fall semester.

Thompson wants campuses to get back to as close to normal as possible, by offering at least 75% of classes fully in-person or hybrid. In pre-pandemic times, he said about 80% of classes were in-person, with the rest online.

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Nearly one year into the coronavirus pandemic, adults continue to suffer from mental health struggles brought on by the stresses of COVID-19.

Job loss and isolation are among those stressors. Some folks are having trouble sleeping and eating, or they’re drinking more, or using other substances to deal with their worries and stress.

That’s what health experts had to say on Wednesday during the state’s Black Legislative Caucus panel discussion about rising mental health struggles in communities of color during COVID-19.

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Citizen groups are urging a federal agency to ask many questions about a proposal to extend the life of Wisconsin's only remaining nuclear power plant.

The two reactors at the Point Beach plant along Lake Michigan, north of Manitowoc, are licensed to run about another decade. But the plant owner, Next Era Energy, has applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to extend the licenses until about 2050. Milwaukee-based WE Energies used to own Point Beach, and still buys power from it.

Chuck Quirmbach

The snow depth in Milwaukee is now the deepest it's been in about 20 years — as snow shovelers with sore backs or shoulders can well attest. In most cities, it's up to the property owners to hire a plowing service. Or, they buy a snowblower or a good shovel, and do pavement clearing themselves. But West Allis recently joined the ranks of snowy North American cities that match older, or disabled, homeowners with volunteer shovelers.

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Millions of people have lost their jobs in Wisconsin during the coronavirus pandemic, resulting in a massive influx of 9.2 million unemployment insurance claims since last March.

For perspective, Wisconsin handled just more than 7 million claims in the previous four years combined.

The increase in claims has exposed the cracks in an aging system and has sometimes resulted in people waiting months to get their unemployment checks.

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President Joe Biden took the stage at the Pabst Theater in Milwaukee Tuesday night in his first official trip as president. He spent much of the CNN town hall meeting discussing the coronavirus, including a $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Biden took questions from people in a nearly empty theater, as attendance was limited for the sake of social distancing.

He spoke on wide range of topics including a $15 minimum wage, immigration reform, student loan forgiveness and defunding the police.

Courtesy Deborah Kerr and Jill Underly

 Updated Wednesday at 11:25 a.m. CT

The race for Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction is a little less crowded, after voters narrowed a field of seven candidates down to two in Tuesday’s primary election.

Unofficial results show Jill Underly with 27.31% of the vote and Deborah Kerr with 26.49%.

Emily Files

Updated Wednesday at 8:27 a.m. CST

Gov. Tony Evers called on the Republican-controlled Legislature Tuesday to bolster funding for K-12 and higher education and reform both the state’s criminal justice systems, while delivering a state budget with $1 billion in taxes increases and liberal policy priorities that GOP leaders promised to quickly kill.

Evers pitched his $91 billion two-year state budget to the Legislature as a “Badger Bounceback” agenda as the coronavirus pandemic enters its second year.

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