Coronavirus

This illustration reveals the ultrastructural morphology exhibited by coronaviruses.
Credit Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Find the latest WUWM and NPR coverage on COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, here.

See the most recent Wisconsin and Milwaukee County numbers.

People who've tested positive for COVID-19 have a range of symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Most people develop mild symptoms. But some people, usually with pre-existing medical conditions, may develop more serious illness. Symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after contact with someone who has COVID-19, believes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC has shared some tips to prepare your home for community transmission of the disease. To protect yourself, health officials recommend you:

  • Wear a face mask that covers your nose and mouth when in public settings or around people who don't live in your household.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are unavailable.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Inside your home: Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Outside your home: Put six feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

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Virginia and Maryland are sending thousands of extra COVID-19 vaccine doses out of their own supply to the District of Columbia as the city scrambles to inoculate health care workers amid the worsening pandemic.

Each state is sending 8,000 additional doses to the nation's capital. The move will more than triple the amount of the medicine that was allotted by the federal government.

Stanford Medicine apologized on Friday for its vaccine distribution plan – a plan that came under fire for leaving out nearly all of its medical residents and fellows, many whom regularly treat COVID-19 patients.

The residents waged a protest on Friday morning, holding signs and demanding answers from Stanford's leadership about why just seven of more than 1,300 residents at Stanford were selected to receive the vaccine in the first round of 5,000 doses.

Health care workers across the U.S. are getting a new arrow in their quiver.

Scott Olson/Getty Images

Add Wisconsin to the list of states told by the federal government that it will be receiving less COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech than initially expected.

Updated at 10:27 p.m. ET

Agreement on a bipartisan coronavirus relief package remains elusive as top congressional leaders continue to negotiate and their efforts spilled into the weekend. While they've had a framework for days, they are struggling to close out several details, and a new issue emerged as a key sticking point.

Lawmakers from both parties insist they will not leave Washington for the holidays until they get a deal that wraps together an aid package and a broader spending deal.

Pfizer is pushing back on the Trump administration's suggestion that the company is having trouble producing its COVID-19 vaccine, saying it's ready to ship millions more doses – once the government asks for them. As the company spoke out, several states said their vaccine allocations for next week have been sharply reduced.

Here's what the key players are saying about a complicated situation:

What Pfizer says

UW Health

This week, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine made its way to Wisconsin. The nearly 50,000 vaccines are being delivered to eight hubs across the state. Department of Health Service’s Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm said Thursday that the logistics, distribution and transportation have been smooth. And that health care workers are already being vaccinated.

She said there are stories of health care providers who’ve been overcome with emotion as they’ve received the vaccine. Palm said she didn’t think about how much relief “we’d all feel” as a vaccine began rolling out.

When they called to tell me my COVID-19 test was positive, I thought there must have been a mistake. I felt perfectly fine, and in the long months of the pandemic my husband, Jeff, and I had been behaving the way much of the United States had: hyper-vigilant about where we went and who we saw, and careful to follow the recommended public health precautions.

It can feel like a parallel universe when you go from a city where kids are cooped up inside at home doing school virtually on their tablets to an isolated small town such as Bruneau, Idaho.

One afternoon this week, the bell had just rung and kids were emptying out of the small elementary school and into the snowy parking lot, almost as if it's 2019 and there is no pandemic.

No one appears to be wearing a mask, which is just fine with parents such as Cassandra Folkman.

"I don't make them wear 'em anywhere we go," Folkman says. "I don't wear one and they don't."

Health officials are administering the first doses of a coronavirus vaccine in Indigenous communities across the U.S., one of the populations most vulnerable in the pandemic.

Updated at 9:12 p.m. ET

Confirmed coronavirus infections and virus-related deaths are soaring in California, the nation's most populous state, setting new records as hospitals struggle to keep up with the onslaught of cases.

It has prompted the state to activate its "mass fatality" program, which coordinates mutual aid across several governmental agencies.

Mr Doomits / stock.adobe.com

For months, the state Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has been criticized for its backlog of unpaid unemployment claims. Currently, it's at more than 35,000. That's a reduction from nearly 400,000 last summer. The backlog led to the resignation of the department's secretary, Caleb Frostman, in September.

The fight against COVID-19 entered a new phase this week as American health care workers started getting vaccinated — the first in what will be a massive effort.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

More health care workers are starting to receive the first COVID-19 vaccine. That includes at the Milwaukee VA hospital, which has about 4,000 employees. The immunization of staff may shed some light on how things will eventually go for veterans who use the Zablocki Medical Center and other VA sites.

Updated at 5:50 a.m. ET

French President Emmanuel Macron tested positive for the coronavirus and will quarantine for a week, his official residence announced Thursday.

Macron was tested for the virus following the onset of symptoms, though the Élysée Palace didn't immediately explain what those symptoms might include. He will isolate himself for seven days and will continue to work remotely, his residence said.

Emergency room physician Cleavon Gilman compares working in a hospital amid the pandemic to war.

"You can actually die at your job now, and that's never really been an issue before," he says.

He has the experience to make the comparison: Gilman served as a combat medic in the Iraq War.

All throughout high school, Brian Williams planned to go to college. But as the pandemic eroded the final moments of his senior year, the Stafford, Texas, student began to second-guess that plan.

"I'm terrible at online school," Williams says. He was barely interested in logging on for his final weeks of high school; being online for his first semester at Houston Community College felt unbearable.

"I know what works best for me, and doing stuff on the computer doesn't really stimulate me in the same way an actual class would."

This time of year, Cornwall's Tavern in Boston would usually be booked with back-to-back Christmas parties and packed with college students celebrating the holidays.

Instead, John Beale, who owns the place with his wife, Pam, sits in the back, reading the newspaper, as Christmas music wafts down on the one lone customer having lunch. When a second customer shows up, John turns to welcome him, waving his arm at the empty space. "You can sit anywhere you want," John offers.

It's anything but a usual season.

The U.S. on Wednesday reported the highest number of new cases of the coronavirus and the most COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic began.

As of 1:30 a.m. Thursday, more than 3,600 Americans died Wednesday from complications of the coronavirus, according to Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking coronavirus infection data.

New Zealand has advance purchased two new coronavirus vaccines from pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Novavax, giving the small island country the ability to vaccinate its 5 million residents.

Government officials also announced Thursday they will go a step further and provide free doses to its population as well as neighboring nations Tokelau, Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Tonga, and Tuvalu, should they want them.

The Food and Drug Administration says that some of the vials of Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine being distributed throughout the U.S. contain extra doses and the agency is encouraging hospitals and clinics to use the additional shots to speed up the nationwide immunization campaign.

The agency issued the guidance Wednesday after health care workers reported throwing out the excess vaccine, fearing it would be against the rules to use it.

Debunked claims about COVID-19 vaccinations will be swiftly removed from Twitter starting next week, the company announced on Wednesday.

And moving into 2021, officials said, the company may start placing labels or warnings on messages containing "unsubstantiated rumors, disputed claims, as well as incomplete or out-of-context information about vaccines."

Tyson Foods has fired seven managers at an Iowa pork plant after investigating allegations they bet on how many workers there would get sick from the coronavirus.

The company, one of the country's largest meat suppliers, launched an independent investigation into the complaints last month, suspending without pay the managers allegedly involved. Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder led the investigation.

As chief of critical care at Houston's United Memorial Medical Center, Dr. Joseph Varon is at the center of managing care for patients with the coronavirus. He's worked every day for the last 272 days.

"No days off," he told NPR's Morning Edition.

It's been a grueling pace at Varon's hospital for months.

UW Health

Nearly 200 health care workers in Wisconsin had received the COVID-19 vaccination as of Wednesday, a number that was expected to grow rapidly in the coming days as the state receives more shipments of the vaccine seen as critical to helping turn the tide of the pandemic.

goodluz / Adobe Stock

It’s been just more than nine months since the city of Milwaukee’s first coronavirus case was announced. Tuesday afternoon city and county officials reported a staggering total of 77,988 cases with 787 deaths.

Updated at 11:11 a.m. ET

U.S. retail spending declined the most since a historic plunge in April as new coronavirus surges restricted outings to stores and restaurants.

Retail sales dipped 1.1% in November compared with a month earlier, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

However, retail spending — excluding food service — was still up 7.1% when compared with a year earlier, in part thanks to record-setting Black Friday and Cyber Monday online shopping sprees.

When Virginia Hedrick first heard about the coronavirus circulating on cruise ships off the coast of California back in March, it made her think back to some of the first ships of European settlers that arrived on American shores centuries ago, also teeming with disease.

High-ranking officials, including President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Pence, are making preparations to get the COVID-19 vaccine, hoping to instill trust and confidence in the vaccine ahead of its widespread distribution as the death toll climbs to new heights.

Now that federal regulators have authorized one COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in the U.S. — and appear close to authorizing another — it seems Americans are growing less reluctant about receiving an inoculation themselves. The Kaiser Family Foundation, or KFF, released a poll Tuesday showing a significant leap in the number of people saying they definitely or probably would get vaccinated.

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