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.

Ways to Connect

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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.

Wisconsin National Guard / flickr

The Wisconsin National Guard says 500 of its members are now in the Washington, D.C. area. They're part of roughly 25,000 Guard troops from around the U.S. scheduled to provide safety at this week's inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

Some members of Congress have raised questions about whether Guard members in D.C. should be screened for their political beliefs, when the nation is so divided just two weeks after pro-Trump extremists attacked the U.S. Capitol.

Wisconsin National Guard spokesman, Maj. Joe Trovato, says the state does no such screening.

ANN ALTHOUSE / FLICKR

There are no confirmed reports of any weekend protests in Wisconsin by supporters of President Donald Trump. But Gov. Tony Evers said Friday afternoon that law enforcement is "well-prepared" to protect the state Capitol building in Madison. 

There have been rumors of potential armed protests at state capitols following the Jan. 6 chaos at the U.S. Capitol, which resulted in numerous arrests of pro-Trump extremists.

Earlier this week, Evers announced the mobilization of some Wisconsin National Guard members in the Madison area. Boards were put on some state Capitol windows.

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The non-partisan state panel charged with drawing fair, impartial election maps for Wisconsin legislative and Congressional districts this year turned its focus to the 4th Congressional District in Milwaukee County Thursday night. 

The People's Maps Commission heard from local attorneys and leaders of the Hmong and the Oneida Nation communities, who argued past gerrymandering has hurt low-income and non-white citizens.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

Wisconsin's newest member of Congress — Rep. Scott Fitzgerald — joined the rest of the state's Republican House members Wednesday in a failed attempt to prevent the impeachment of President Donald Trump.

It was the latest in a series of controversial votes by Fitzgerald, a former state Senator, who has only served in Congress about ten days after being elected in the suburban 5th Congressional District in November. He replaced retiring Republican Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner.

mmphoto / stock.adobe.com

More solar energy proposals, more energy efficiency projects, and more sustainability — that's what two top Wisconsin officials are predicting for this year.

One of them is Tyler Huebner, appointed by Gov. Tony Evers to the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin last year. Huebner told RENEW Wisconsin's annual conference Tuesday that six large solar farms, totaling 1,049 megawatts, have received PSC approval over the last 20 months, including one in the Town of Paris in Kenosha County.

Huebner said more proposals for large solar farms are seeking PSC approval.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

On Tuesday morning, the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee opened as a COVID-19 vaccination site for some city of Milwaukee firefighters, emergency medical service employees and city health department workers. 

These people are in what's known as the phase 1a category of vaccine recipients. City officials emphasize the general public is not yet welcome at the Wisconsin Center site.

The health department's Nick Tomaro is helping run the vaccination effort. He says the center is a controlled environment.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

Updated at 3:45 p.m.  

Highway safety advocates are urging Wisconsin, other states, and the federal government to pass laws that the advocates say would keep thousands more drivers and passengers alive. 

A Milwaukee-area doctor is part of the push.

Amanda Edwards / Getty Images

Many people may be tuning to television Friday evening for the final episode in which Alex Trebek hosts the game show "Jeopardy!" Trebek died in November of cancer.

For all the years "Jeopardy!" has been on, and remember it existed before Trebek started as host, the program been a test of memory for both contestants and viewers. 

Win McNamee / Getty Images

The mob of Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday brought out strong reactions from across the world. Part of that reaction came from current and past members of Wisconsin's Congressional delegation.

Rep. Ron Kind (D - LaCrosse) held an online news conference from his Capitol Hill office.

"I'm here, I'm working, I'm not ceding any ground to anyone. I refuse to surrender the United States Capitol to anyone,” he said.

Chuck Quirmbach

Kenosha Police officer Rustin Sheskey may have avoided local criminal charges yesterday, in a decision announced by Kenosha County District Attorney Mike Gravely.

But there could be more legal trouble for Sheskey and the Kenosha Police Department.

Matthew Horwood / Getty Images

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.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

In 2020 the medical field saw more than deaths and illnesses related to COVID-19, there was also a lot of discussion about racial disparities, senior citizens, skepticism and scientific breakthroughs.

One new development was the drive-through COVID-19 testing site, whether run by government health care workers, the National Guard, or the private sector — such as at the new mobile clinic temporarily outside Barack Obama School in Milwaukee.   

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On November 10, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers offered this chilling forecast from the University of Washington in a statewide speech: "The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates 5,000 Wisconsinites could be lost to COVID-19 by January 1st, if no further actions are taken to get this virus under control.”

At the time, Wisconsin had seen 2,395 deaths. That number officially doubled by Wednesday of this week, when the state reported 35 deaths for a new total of 4,818.

So, barring a huge death toll Thursday, 5,000 won't be reached by January 1.

NRCGOV / FLICKR

A federal agency announced it has started to review an application to keep Wisconsin's only nuclear power plant open until about 2050. That's roughly two decades longer than currently authorized. 

The owner, Florida-based Next Era, says the two generators at the Point Beach Nuclear Plant along Lake Michigan, north of Manitowoc, are reliable sources of emissions-free energy. Milwaukee-based WE Energies used to own the large plant, and still buys power from it.

Ann-Elise Henzl

Gov. Tony Evers says COVID-19 vaccinations of residents and staff are now underway at some Wisconsin long-term care facilities, including nursing homes. Eligible sites are paired with two large pharmacy chains, which will provide storage and handling of the Moderna brand vaccine, as well as scheduling, administering the drug and reporting its use. 

About 57,000 doses will initially be available for the long-term care facilities.  The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says the vaccination program at those sites will continue for about two months.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

After a difficult year for rail travel in Wisconsin, passenger groups and government officials are hoping for a better 2021. One bright spot is that the newest COVID-19 relief bill President Donald Trump has signed includes aid that Amtrak hopes will carry them through the end of March. 

And, despite the pandemic, work continues on some rail projects not due to be completed for several years.

Who’s still riding?

Chuck Quirmbach

State health officials said that as of midday Monday, more than 10,000 health care workers in Wisconsin had received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Department of Health Services (DHS) expects that number to quickly rise. But vaccine supply questions are hampering estimates on when most U.S. residents will be immunized.  

Meanwhile, a state site in West Allis is about to start giving out a drug to treat some people with mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.   

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.

BJPHOTOGRAPHS / stock.adobe.com

Updated 1:56 p.m. CST

Wisconsin Supreme Court justices on Thursday questioned the legality of an order issued by the state's top health official limiting how many people can gather in bars and restaurants given the court's decision earlier this year that a similar order needed legislative approval.

Three Wisconsin sports teams and Microsoft are pledging to invest in startup companies owned by Black and Latino people across the state and nation.

The Milwaukee Brewers, Milwaukee Bucks and Green Bay Packers are calling their joint effort the Equity League. Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy said the inflection point was in August, when Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey severely wounded a Black man, Jacob Blake, while trying to take Blake into custody.

Chuck Quirmbach

Relatives and supporters of a woman wounded during a police shooting in Wauwatosa the night of Dec. 10 are raising more concerns about the city's police force. 

Wauwatosa police say they responded to a report of a woman being attacked by another woman with a stick.

The 23-year-old female officer who went to the scene says the attacker had a wooden post and began hitting her squad car. Police say the officer was “forced to shoot the subject” when she advanced on the officer.

Chuck Quirmbach

A Wisconsin man accused of helping a plot this year to kidnap several Michigan officials, including the governor, remains in Wisconsin, despite having lost one attempt to block extradition to Michigan.

Wisconsin Dells resident Brian Higgins is accused of providing material support to a terrorist act. If found guilty, he could go to jail for 20 years.

UW Health

Health officials say about 10,000 doses of the first federally-approved, COVID-19 vaccine have arrived in Wisconsin. That's about one-fifth of the doses expected in the state by later this week. Health care workers are supposed to be the first to get the vaccine, but most won't be vaccinated until later this month.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

It's been nearly four months since Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey severely wounded Jacob Blake, Jr., a Black resident, while trying to take Blake into custody.

Blake's family and their supporters are still urging Kenosha County District Attorney Mike Graveley to issue criminal charges against the officer, and for the police department to fire Sheskey.

Jack Hurbanis / WUWM

Nearly 4,000 people in Wisconsin have died of COVID-19, after 57 deaths were announced Thursday.  The number of confirmed cases in the state since the pandemic began now tops 426,000. State officials and medical experts say the case total could be higher if more people would be tested for the coronavirus.

Also, late Thursday, an FDA advisory panel recommended emergency authorization of a vaccine for COVID-19. Some health care providers in Wisconsin could be given the vaccine next week.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

Wisconsin Democratic Gov. Tony Evers is expressing doubts about a state legislative hearing scheduled for Friday. Two Republican-led committees plan to take invited testimony on the Nov. 3 election. 

Official results show Presiden-elect Joe Biden carried Wisconsin by about 21,000 votes over President Donald Trump. But repeatedly in court and now in the Legislature, some in the GOP are questioning the result.

Ann-Elise Henzl / WUWM

Racine is the first local government in Wisconsin to offer free, confidential, one-on-one financial counseling to help individuals and families with low and moderate incomes. It's part of a national initiative called Financial Empowerment Centers, or FEC.

Racine Mayor Cory Mason and others announced the effort on Monday. He said the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need.

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