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.


Screenshot / Milwaukee County

Over the past four months, lots of systems in Wisconsin have had to adapt due to the coronavirus pandemic. That includes the state court system, which was forced to halt jury trials and move most other business online.

Before the shutdown, lots of people had never heard of Zoom. Now, the video conferencing platform has become a part of our daily lives — including for some court hearings. They’re being held as Zoom meetings, which are broadcast live on YouTube.

Lakshmiprasad/Adobe Stock

Health officials say it’s possible we won’t see a vaccine or cure for the coronavirus for awhile. So in the meantime, they’re recommending testing and contact tracing as ways to help control the spread of the infectious disease.

Contact tracing is the process of informing people that they may need to self-isolate or get tested because they’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive for the coronavirus.

Jamie Taylor / Courtesy of Wisconsin LGBTQ History Project

Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer rose to infamy after human remains were found dismembered and preserved in his Milwaukee apartment. He murdered at least 16 people in Milwaukee. Fourteen were people of color and many of them had been part of the city’s gay community.

A Bubbler Talk listener wanted to know how much harm Jeffrey Dahmer’s crimes caused Milwaukee’s gay community. But to understand Dahmer’s impact, we first need to look at what life was like for LGBTQ Milwaukeeans in the 1980s.

Chuck Quirmbach

How many people in Wisconsin have survived a COVID-19 diagnosis?

That’s the Bubbler Talk question listener Gene Kelber, of Shorewood, sent our way. He says he and his wife are in a high-risk age group for the disease.

"We're both over 70 and we wondered how this is going to impact our life and relationship with our friends,  our children, and our grandchildren who live in Shorewood,” Kelber says.

Angelina Mosher Salazar & Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

COVID-19 has disrupted many parts of our lives, but it’s also affecting us in death. For Bubbler Talk, WUWM investigated the toll the pandemic has taken on one of Milwaukee’s most vulnerable populations: the elderly.

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.