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Gov. Tony Evers defended Wisconsin's vaccination efforts in the face of increasing Republican criticism Thursday, while urging patience because the number of people eligible will expand exponentially next week.

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Updated 3:44 p.m.

Ted Thompson, whose 13-year run as Green Bay Packers general manager included their 2010 Super Bowl championship season, has died. He was 68.

The Packers announced Thursday that Thompson died the previous night at his home in Atlanta, Texas. The team said it was contacted by a direct family member.

Thompson announced in May 2019 he had been diagnosed with an autonomic nerve disorder.

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Two Republican lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday designed to reform police use-of-force policies and investigations, including proposals that would ban training on chokeholds, punish municipalities that defund police departments and create a board to investigate officer-involved deaths and injuries.

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The state has started distributing and receiving at-home test kits for COVID-19.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services spokeswoman Traci DeSalvo says more than 12,000 kits have been ordered and more than 1,600 have been returned as of last week.

“People are ordering a kit and having it on hand for when they’re ready,” she said. “It’s a tool in your medicine cabinet so that if you do become symptomatic or have an exposure to COVID, you have a test ready to go.”

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Don Sutton, a Hall of Fame pitcher who was a stalwart of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ rotation spanning an era from Sandy Koufax to Fernando Valenzuela, died Tuesday. He was 75.

The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, said Sutton died at his home in Rancho Mirage, California, after a long struggle with cancer. The Atlanta Braves, for whom Sutton was a long-time broadcaster, said he died in his sleep.

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Republican legislative leaders took no action Tuesday on Gov. Tony Evers' call to modernize the state's backlogged unemployment system, convening and adjourning a special session within seconds.

Evers called the GOP-controlled Legislature into special session on Tuesday to pass a $5.3 million plan to modernize the Department of Workforce Development's process for handling unemployment claims.

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  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.

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Updated 5:29 p.m.

Everyone over age 65 in Wisconsin will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine starting Monday but it could take a couple of months to inoculate the entire group of 700,000 people, state health officials said.

The department cautioned that the speed of vaccinations depends on how much vaccine the federal government sends. Wisconsin receives about 70,000 doses of first-dose vaccine each week; at that pace, it could take two months to vaccinate the next group.

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Wisconsin’s plan for the next phase of coronavirus vaccinations covers essential workers, including teachers, child care providers, law enforcement officers and hospital staff who aren’t on the front lines.

In Wisconsin, it doesn’t include grocery store employees, as recommended by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the states’ second phase of COVID-19 vaccinations. Grocery store owners, who thought their employees would be included in the next phase, are upset.

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Wisconsin’s top health official, who has led the state throughout the coronavirus pandemic, is leaving for a job with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President-elect Joe Biden.

Andrea Palm, secretary-designee of the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, has been nominated as deputy secretary of the federal agency.

Palm will work to fulfill Biden's pledge to expand access to COVID-19 vaccines and speed up the rate of vaccinations.

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Wisconsin is launching a mobile coronavirus vaccination program next week to be operated by the Wisconsin National Guard and health officials, Gov. Tony Evers announced Friday.

Nine mobile labs will be dispatched across the state starting Tuesday, Evers said. They will be staffed by members of the National Guard as well as pharmacy and nursing student volunteers through a partnership with the University of Wisconsin System.

As more vaccine is released to the state, the program will expand access with local partners, Evers said.

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The Wisconsin Elections Commission on Friday voted to allow on the ballot a former lawmaker running for a vacancy in the state Senate, rejecting a challenge that he doesn't live in the district.

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Wisconsin's newest member of Congress, Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Fitzgerald, said Thursday he didn't know if President Donald Trump incited the riot last week at the U.S. Capitol and wants a full investigation to find out what motivated the mob.

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Updated at 4:45 p.m. CST

A Republican-backed push to fast-track redistricting lawsuits in the Wisconsin Supreme Court met with skepticism during a Thursday hearing, with the court's conservative chief justice questioning why the proposal was necessary and how the thinly staffed court could be expected to draw maps.

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Updated at 1:13 p.m.

A Black man who was shot in the back by a white police officer in Wisconsin, triggering several nights of violent protests over the summer and leaving him partially paralyzed, said in an interview broadcast Thursday that he was prepared to surrender just before the officer opened fire.

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Updated at 4:50 p.m.

A new, more contagious form of the COVID-19 virus has been detected in Wisconsin, health officials said Wednesday.

State epidemiologist Ryan Westergaard told reporters during a video conference that state health officials received confirmation Tuesday that the variant had been detected through routine genome sequencing of a positive COVID-19 test for an Eau Claire County resident.

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Tuesday night, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers delivered his state of the state speech virtually — a first in state history. He called on the Legislature to address problems exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, like updating Wisconsin's unemployment system and expanding broadband access.

Evers’ speech was pre-recorded and broadcast online without the typical audience, fanfare and applause. He described the last year as an unrelenting one, with challenges no one would have believed and obstacles that have continued into the new year.

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A Wisconsin man who posted on Facebook that he was among those wanted for illegally entering the U.S. Capitol during last week's riot was arrested in Eau Claire on Tuesday and faces charges in federal court.

Kevin Daniel Loftus, 52, was scheduled to make an initial appearance Tuesday after being arrested for illegally entering either house of Congress, or adjacent areas, and disorderly conduct on the grounds of the Capitol.

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Updated at 4:13 p.m.

The Wisconsin Senate overwhelmingly passed a scaled-down COVID-19 relief package Tuesday, drawing a pledge from Gov. Tony Evers that he would sign the measure if clears the Assembly. But that looked unlikely after a key Republican leader in that chamber declared the package falls far short of what the GOP wants.

A 13-year-old Milwaukee girl fatally shot over the weekend lost her brother to gun violence in 2017.

Nevaeha Ware had dreams of becoming a doctor, telling Journal Sentinel columnist James E. Causey in 2017 that she wanted to take care of the children who needed to go to the doctor but couldn't afford to go.

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The Wisconsin National Guard has pulled troops out of a southeastern Wisconsin city after protests over a decision not to charge a white police officer with shooting a Black man in the back didn't materialize.

Guard spokesman Joe Trovato said Monday that about 500 troops have withdrawn from Kenosha after spending a week there in anticipation of demonstrations.

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Updated 4:09 p.m.

Police and firefighters in Wisconsin will be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine starting Jan. 18, state health officials said Monday, while Gov. Tony Evers estimates that members of the general public won't be vaccinated until June.

Evers renewed his call for faster distribution of the vaccine from the federal government on Monday and state Republicans introduced a new scaled back response bill and scheduled it for a vote Tuesday.

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The city of Milwaukee plans to use the Wisconsin Center as a COVID-19 vaccination site beginning next week.

The city started vaccinating its health department workers and emergency medical personnel this week, with an initial 120 doses of the Pfizer vaccine.

“Individuals who are getting vaccinated feel a sense of hope and relief,” Milwaukee Interim Health Commission Marlaina Jackson said during a press briefing Friday.

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The stunning security breaches at the U.S. Capitol and statehouses around the country this week haven't yet led to any changes at the state Capitol building in Madison.

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The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Assembly on Thursday passed a doomed COVID-19 response bill that Senate Republicans and Democratic Gov. Tony Evers oppose, and there’s no sign of an agreement on a plan to combat the virus that has killed more than 5,000 people in the state.

Evers and Assembly Democrats have their own proposals that Republicans do not support. The Legislature hasn't passed anything related to the pandemic since April, and recent talks between Evers and Republican leaders failed to result in a deal.

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Updated 4:39 p.m. CST

A Wisconsin prosecutor announced Tuesday that he will not file criminal charges against a white police officer who shot a Black man in the back in Kenosha last summer, leaving him paralyzed and setting off sometimes violent protests in the city.

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Wisconsin Republicans moved ahead Tuesday with a fast-tracked coronavirus response bill that is opposed by Democrats and appears likely to be vetoed by Gov. Tony Evers.

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Updated at 1:31 p.m. CST

An Illinois teenager who fatally shot two people and wounded a third amidst sometimes violent summer protests on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges including intentional homicide.

Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, entered his plea in a brief hearing conducted by teleconference.

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Updated Jan. 5 at 10:41 a.m.

A Wisconsin pharmacist told police he tried to ruin hundreds of doses of coronavirus vaccine because he felt the medicine wasn't safe, a prosecutor said Monday.

Police in Grafton, about 20 miles north of Milwaukee, arrested the Advocate Aurora Health pharmacist Steven Brandenburg last week following an investigation into the 57 spoiled vials of the Moderna vaccine, which officials say contained enough doses to inoculate more than 500 people.

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A federal judge on Monday rejected a lawsuit filed by two Republican Wisconsin lawmakers, voting rights groups and others seeking to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Wisconsin and four other swing states where Democrat Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump.

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