Bubbler Talk

What’s got you scratching your head about Milwaukee and the region? Bubbler Talk is a series that puts your curiosity front and center.

How it works: You ask, we investigate, and together we unveil the answers.

Ask away: What have you always wanted to know about the Milwaukee area's people, places, or culture that you want WUWM to explore?

Participate in the process and submit your question below.


Scott Olson / Getty Images

Shortly after the coronavirus pandemic began to spread widely in America, doctors and public health authorities noticed that hospitals were disproportionately treating black patients for the virus. As local officials began to track cases, a national trend emerged: not only were black Americans more likely to contract the virus, they were also more likely to die.

Susan Bence

We’re living in an era when more people need a helping hand due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We received several Bubbler Talk questions wondering how people needing help during the coronavirus pandemic can find resources. So, we spoke with three groups that are supporting people in the Milwaukee area — now and after the pandemic.

>>Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

Hunger Task Force

Julian Hayda

WUWM reporters and producers have been working hard covering how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting southeastern Wisconsin. We received a Bubbler Talk question about how WUWM staff are still bringing you the news while working from home. So, we thought we'd share how we're making it all happen.

>>Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

Courtesy of John Berges and Erica Young

School closures triggered by the coronavirus are especially hard on students with disabilities and their families. These students often get one-on-one help at school, along with services like speech and physical therapy. In March, students and families suddenly lost all of that support. 

“Our new normal is barely coping,” said John Berges, whose son Theo is a special needs student at Shorewood High School. Berges sent WUWM a voice memo describing his family’s experience. 

Alesandra Tejeda

At the Milwaukee County House of Correction in Franklin, 94 inmates have COVID-19 as of Thursday – out of an on-site population of about 600. There are three cases at the jail in downtown Milwaukee. To help prevent the coronavirus from spreading among people incarcerated, some key players are trying to limit the number of people in custody. 

Steffaville / Wikimedia Commons

Updated at 1:03 p.m. CT  

According to Gov. Tony Evers, Wisconsin’s safer-at-home orders are intended to protect “vulnerable communities.” Many vulnerable populations fall directly under the state’s care, like public school students, people who receive social welfare, and much of the elderly population. Perhaps one of the most vulnerable communities, though, is the state’s prison population. 

Teran Powell / WUWM

People across the globe have been showing support for health care workers on the frontlines in the fight against COVID-19. That includes at the Aurora Medical Center in Summit, where parade of fire engines and law enforcement vehicles blared their sirens in salute as hospital workers watched and waved from the lawn.

Angelov / stock.adobe.com

For Bubbler Talk, Diane from West Allis asked us how she should handle food deliveries to her door during the COVID-19 pandemic. Can the coronavirus be on those items, and if so, what’s the best way to wipe them down? Diane resides in independent living and says the pandemic has sparked fear in her.

“The virus thing yes, has scared me to death because of my underlying chronic lung condition, which is under the umbrella of COPD,” she says.

Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Although conversations about the coronavirus are really inescapable, there are still a lot of misperceptions and questions about the disease. For Bubbler Talk, we've been asking listeners what they want to know about the disease and how it's spread.

Dr. Joyce Sanchez is an assistant professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin who specializes in infectious diseases. She is here to help answer some of your coronavirus questions: 

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

For this Bubbler Talk, we look into health care services for non-COVID-19 patients. A listener reached out to WUWM to tell us her health care provider had canceled her surgery, leaving her in pain.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association and individual health care outlets have talked about delaying elective or non-essential surgery to save resources for patients with the coronavirus. Medical groups say they don’t make the decision lightly, and it’s based on a team review of patients.

Audrey Nowakowski / WUWM

Updated on April 28:

Gov. Tony Evers announced that 34 Wisconsin state parks, forests and recreational areas will reopen on May 1.

The parks will open with new conditions designed to minimize overcrowding. Bathrooms, towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, contact stations and concession buildings will all remain closed. Camp sites will remain closed until May 26.

Michelle Maternowski / WUWM

For this week's Bubbler Talk, we answer a question from a mom of two teen kids. She wanted to know if she could send her kids to their friends’ houses, including for sleepovers. Her take was no, but friends and family members thought it could be fine.

So did her kids, although to them she may have sounded like a character from the Peanuts comic strip.

The mom asked us to investigate. Turns out, she was right.

Chuck Quirmbach

For the latest Bubbler Talk, we respond to a listener question about the city of Milwaukee's plans in the event of a widespread, local outbreak of COVID-19. That's the disease caused by the coronavirus, which has now killed more than a dozen people in the U.S. and more than 3,000 worldwide.

The Bath Tiles Of Milwaukee's History

Feb 28, 2020
Milwaukee Athletic Club

A listener wondered if it was true that there were underground baths in Milwaukee where powerful men once met in secret to do powerful things.

To answer this Bubbler Talk question, Bonnie North met up with OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo, who tends to know this stuff, and Eric Nordeen, of the Wells Building, to find out.

Michelle Maternowski

You’ve probably driven by The Domes many times and even visited them. Whether you love them or hate them, their future’s been hotly debated — should Milwaukee County restore or destroy them? To have a better understanding of their future, let’s take a look at their past.

Pat Faherty is fond of The Domes, officially called The Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, but has one lingering question. So, Pat and reached out to Bubbler Talk: