WUWM: Innovation Reporting

It seems like every day there are breakthroughs in science, medicine and technology. But what do those advancements mean for you? WUWM’s Innovation Reporter Chuck Quirmbach will answer your questions, and make the difficult easier to grasp.

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Ann-Elise Henzl

The state of Wisconsin says the number of active COVID-19 investigations at nursing homes continues to increase. The Department of Health Services (DHS) website indicates 58 active public health probes, up from 38 when the state first released its list two weeks ago.

There are 15 active probes at skilled care facilities in Milwaukee County. Total investigations (active and closed) at nursing homes statewide has gone from 46 to 74. An investigation gets underway when at least one home resident or staff member tests positive for COVID-19.

Susan Bence

A citizens group wants Wisconsin utilities to become more innovative in reducing emissions that contribute to climate change. Group members say getting more intellectual diversity on a utility's board of directors would help.

The discussion involves Madison Gas and Electric (MGE), which primarily serves southcentral Wisconsin, but is part owner of one of the WE Energies coal-fired power plants in Oak Creek. MGE still gets half of its electricity from coal generation. 

Al Bello / Getty Images

When state officials say they want to expand coronavirus testing in Wisconsin, they mean the diagnostic test that usually involves inserting a long cotton swab through the nose. The exam detects if you currently have the coronavirus.

But some health care organizations are also offering an antibody test. That involves taking a small blood sample to see if you previously had the virus and your immune system made protective proteins called antibodies to fight off the infection. 

Jason W. Edwards / U.S. Army

A drug that could help speed the recovery of some COVID-19 patients by several days is now being given to a person in Wisconsin. The trial use of remdesivir is taking place at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa.

Courtesy of Lindsey Roddy

Pretty much any time can be challenging for a young business or startup. That appears to be especially true now, during the COVID-19 pandemic that's dramatically changed consumer spending and shut down many companies. 

But some early-stage firms in the medical field are staying open or expanding by adjusting to present needs. 

>>Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

Chuck Quirmbach

Wisconsin officials are trying to step up the decontamination of some key pieces of medical equipment used by health care workers treating patients who have COVID-19. The hope is to reuse more items like N95 respirators, which are tight-fitting masks that reduce the wearer's exposure to the coronavirus.

Chuck Quirmbach

People with slow or no internet at their home or workplace may be able to briefly tap into free, wireless broadband internet service just outside public buildings. 

The Public Service Commission (PSC) and Department of Public Instruction recently created an online map of about 650 emergency internet locations in Wisconsin. The PSC also set-up a help-line to answer any questions.

Chuck Quirmbach

Gov. Tony Evers says he'd like to dramatically increase testing for COVID-19 in Wisconsin. That way health officials can get a better idea of the spread of the disease and when the number of new cases might be declining.

There's a long way to go to reach the state's recently expanded capacity of 11,000 COVID-19 tests per day. The Department of Health Services (DHS) says only about one-fourth of the capacity is being used. But new testing sites are opening.

Chuck Quirmbach

State of Wisconsin officials are providing some details of a plan to contact more people who have tested positive for COVID-19, and even contacting people as they take the COVID-19 test, before results are in. But some Milwaukee-area health officials appear to question part of the proposal.

Contact tracing, health officials say, can help determine how people contracted COVID-19 and learn with whom people connect as a way to potentially reduce the spread of the disease.

Chuck Quirmbach

On Monday, Dr. Dave Lal donated plasma for the third time in recent weeks at the Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin in downtown Milwaukee.

Lal sat quietly in a recliner as a machine called an automated blood collection system took blood and its liquid component plasma out of his body, before returning the blood cells.

>>Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus News

Chuck Quirmbach

During the COVID-19 pandemic, more hospitals and doctors are promoting telemedicine, or telehealth. That typically means connecting with a physician or other medical personnel by phone or through an online video connection.  

Medical facilities are trying to discourage people without COVID-19 symptoms or other risk factors from swamping medical facilities already busy with COVID patients. Or, from putting health care workers at greater risk by possibly simply spreading the virus.

Marina Andrejchenko / stock.adobe.com

Lots of people are isolating themselves these days due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But isolation and loneliness have long been concerns for some seniors as they grapple with the death of loved ones, health problems or retirement.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

A health warning related to the coronavirus comes from the Milwaukee-based Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin: Officials say blood drives are being canceled and the impact of possible blood shortages on hospitals and patients could be severe.

Versiti says it’s the exclusive provider of blood and blood products to more than 50 hospitals in 29 counties. Hospitals in the Milwaukee area include St. Luke’s, Children’s and Froedtert. The center says it provides more than 230,000 units of blood every year. A unit is roughly one pint.

ipopba / stock.adobe.com

One disease killed 2,453 people in Wisconsin in 2018, and projections are that number could increase in the coming years. It's Alzheimer's — a type of dementia that mainly affects the elderly through altered thinking, memory and behavior.

To meet future care needs, the Alzheimer's Association says changes are needed in the medical community.

Chuck Quirmbach

The quality of health care for veterans may be closely watched this election year due to frequent presidential promises to take care of those who served in the military.

Some doctors at the Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Milwaukee say they're proud of the cancer treatment they're able to offer, and satisfaction at Zablocki apparently remains high. But a nurses union says a recent announcement threatens to weaken services for vets who may be in crisis.

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