Chuck Quirmbach

Innovation Reporter

Chuck Quirmbach joined WUWM in August 2018 as Innovation Reporter, covering developments in science, health and business.

Prior to that, he worked for Wisconsin Public Radio in Milwaukee and Madison, covering the environment, energy, and Milwaukee news of statewide interest.

He is a graduate of the UW-Madison.

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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.

Stefani Reynolds / Getty Images

It's been four months of nearly non-stop controversy for Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson. He has been a key supporter of former President Donald Trump's claims of voter fraud and has gone a step further to question whether the U.S. Capitol protestors in January were armed, and whether some of them were not Trump supporters.  

Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

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.

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.

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.

irisphoto1 / stock.adobe.com

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.

Beton Studio / stock.adobe.com

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.

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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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.

Biden Optimistic On Reopening Of Elementary Schools

Feb 16, 2021
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

Updated Feb. 17 at 10:18 a.m. CST

President Joe Biden is promising a majority of elementary schools will be open five days a week by the end of his first 100 days in office, restating his original goal after his administration came under fire when aides said schools would be considered open if they held in-person learning just one day a week.

Chuck Quirmbach

President Joe Biden is expected to talk about the COVID-19 pandemic, when he speaks during a national cable television town hall meeting in Milwaukee Tuesday night.

As more people are receiving the COVID vaccination, there's a growing focus on potential problems from variants, or mutated versions of the virus. Wisconsin researchers are trying to keep track of variants through studying genetic material in some human cells.

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Innovative ideas may be about to get a huge financial boost in Wisconsin. Gov. Tony Evers says he'll include in his state budget proposal a $100 million venture capital fund to jump-start the growth of startup businesses. 

Matt Cordio, of the Wisconsin Startup Coalition, says he supports the plan and that access to venture capital is the lifeblood of innovation. 

Chuck Quirmbach

A dispute between two Waukeshas over construction permits for the water pipes that would connect the city of Waukesha to Lake Michigan has had its first day in court.

Maayan Silver / WUWM

A state panel working on the once per decade redrawing of Wisconsin's political districts meets again Thursday evening online. The non-partisan People's Maps Commission will again hear public and invited testimony. Soon, the panel will be working with a nationally-known mathematician who says geometry can help reduce gerrymandering.

Gerrymandering is the practice of setting up voting districts for partisan gain. 

Chuck Quirmbach

State of Wisconsin health officials say local vaccination outlets will soon get more advance word on how much COVID-19 vaccine they can expect. Officials also say they are concerned about a second case of a variant of the coronavirus being found in Wisconsin.

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Citizen panels in Wauwatosa have taken the first steps toward hiring a new police chief in the city. Controversial longtime Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber announced this week that he'll retire in June.

Thursday night, the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission voted to hire a consultant to help them with the hiring process to replace Weber.

The consultant is the Washington D.C.-based Center for Public Safety Management. Center Director Leonard Matarese said finding candidates will be harder than it used to be.

Chuck Quirmbach

A federal report released on Feb. 1 says nationally, only 38% of nursing home workers accepted a COVID-19 vaccination shot when it was first offered in December or January.  The document from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the percentage of those workers being immunized may have gone up in the last few weeks. 

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

The state of Wisconsin says it's trying to ship more of the COVID-19 vaccine to underserved communities, including parts of the Milwaukee area. Meanwhile, local officials say they're trying to reach out to a broader group of potential vaccine recipients. 

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

Efforts to immunize people 65 and older against COVID-19 are stepping up this week in Wisconsin. Tuesday, the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee will hold a second day of vaccinating hundreds of seniors who have appointments.

But a city health official says they've had to take steps to prevent other people from unfairly coming in, and he says, questions about vaccine supply continue to inject uncertainty into the process. 

Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Sometime Friday afternoon, communities across Wisconsin should get the word on how much COVID-19 vaccine they can expect to receive for use next week. The issue is key, as health officials try to coordinate vaccination of not only the remainder of frontline health care workers and others in the so-called phase 1a group, but also more people age 65 and older who first started to receive their shot this week. 

Chuck Quirmbach

State health officials list 95% of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin as "recovered." But that description may be a bit misleading, as the medical community estimates between 10-30% of people who get the virus have symptoms lasting for several months.

Doctors refer to those post-COVID-19 patients as "long haulers,” and more health care providers in the Milwaukee area are focusing on them.

Chuck Quirmbach

The state of Wisconsin is spelling out who will tentatively be eligible next for the COVID-19 vaccine, perhaps around March 1. Meanwhile, local officials say they're trying to iron out problems with vaccinating those currently eligible — especially people 65 and older who are not in nursing homes.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) says all of the following groups will be eligible for the vaccine no later than March 1, assuming there's enough vaccine:

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

One of the largest health care providers in the area says it will begin Tuesday to give the COVID-19 vaccine to some of its primary care patients who are 65 and older. 

The Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin network said on Saturday, it started inviting seniors with a primary care doctor in the network to get the vaccine. Froedtert said it expected as of late Monday that 15,000 patients would have an appointment to get a shot at one of seven vaccine clinics.

Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Pro football's conference championship games will be played Sunday in Green Bay and Kansas City, Missouri, with the COVID-19 pandemic greatly limiting the number of fans in the stadiums.

The Green Bay Packers will take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Packers say only about 9,000 people will be allowed into Lambeau Field, about 12% of capacity. Wisconsin Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk says even those fans should not get too close.

Chuck Quirmbach

Three GOP members of the Wisconsin House delegation gathered at a pipeline company in Racine County Friday to criticize President Joe Biden for cancelling a major oil pipeline known as Keystone XL.

US Reps. Bryan Steil, of Janesville, Scott Fitzgerald of Waupun and Glen Grothman of Glenbeulah say the executive order Biden issued after taking office Wednesday has caused hundreds of Wisconsin residents working on the pipeline in the Great Plains states to be laid off. 

Chuck Quirmbach

Today, Bubbler Talk looks at the status of mental health care in the Milwaukee area. Our question comes from listener and Milwaukee resident Scott Bollen. He often drives by the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center in Wauwatosa and notices a disparity between one modern facility and one set of older buildings.

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A prominent Milwaukee doctor weighed in this week, somewhat reluctantly, on how the battle against COVID-19 will go with President Joe Biden.

Dr. John Raymond is president and CEO of the Medical College of Wisconsin. He was asked during a virtual meeting of the Milwaukee Rotary Club on Jan. 19 about the Biden administration replacing the Trump administration. 

"Well, it's difficult to do without traversing into political areas,” replied Raymond.

Sean Rayford / Getty Images

  Updated 5:36 p.m.

A Wisconsin pharmacist accused of trying to defrost and spoil dozens of vials of COVID-19 vaccine was charged Tuesday with attempted misdemeanor property damage, and prosecutors warned more serious charges could follow if tests show the doses were ruined.

KAMIL KRZACZYNSKI / GETTY IMAGES

COVID-19 vaccinations resume Tuesday at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee. Not for the general public yet  — but for some workers in the city.

Mayor Tom Barrett is especially urging home health care employees to get the vaccine.

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