Sports Suspended

Sports came to screeching halt in light of COVID-19 pandemic

By Ben Farrell

On the evening of Wednesday March 11, Utah Jazz starting center and reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert tested positive for novel Coronavirus, and within weeks, almost every major sporting event for the foreseeable future had been postponed or cancelled because of the virus. For some, these cancellations have caused the sudden disappearance of much-loved pastimes. For those whose livelihoods rely on sports, the situation has been far more dire. 

Wide ranging effects have altered the lives of journalists, from dashed coverage plans to lost wages, jobs and health insurance. According to Colten Bartholomew, and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter covering the University of Wisconsin football team, advertising revenue for Lee Enterprises, his publication’s parent company, tanked dramatically as a result of nationwide shutdowns. Executives at the media conglomerate took pay cuts across the board. On top of that, Bartholomew and other full-time employees are required to take two week-long furloughs over the course of the coming months.

Though it is hoped that these spending cuts will keep the publication afloat, Bartholomew remains cautious regarding his future employment. “If things continue like this, or get bad in any way, sports is obviously the first thing on the chopping block, on the local scale especially.” Because football is a fall sport, Bartholomew’s work has remained relatively unaffected by the quarantine thus far. “Lucky for them and me, Badgers players got their pro day in just before quarantine began,” he said.

The University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team and media members covering it weren’t so lucky. WSUM Sports Director, Badger’s Wire and USA Today contributor and Locked On Badgers host Asher Low’s lifelong dream of calling the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament was dashed. “It killed me to do this,” said Low, who is graduating from the University of Wisconsin this spring, “but on March 1, the day the Ivy League canceled, I said to myself, ‘look, we’re not going.’ It’s my favorite event in sports, and that was my last chance as a Badger to call it.”

With Badgers men’s basketball slated for an above-average performance this year, Low felt this could’ve been his single shot at a dream-like run with his classmates on the team. “I bet we would’ve gone to the second weekend too. We were looking really, really good,” he said. Low also detailed the adjustment of  producing current and newsworthy college sports pieces for the USA Today-owned blog Badgerswire, in the absence of meaningful sports news outside of the NFL Draft. “Ninety percent of what we’re putting out right now is the kind of stuff we know will get clicks anyway. Season in-review pieces, Badgers where-are-they-now pieces… but not having March Madness is just a huge adjustment that we weren’t ready for.”

Though media organizations that rely on small markets  are particularly vulnerable, COVID-19 related financial concerns have also led to furloughs at the national level. Mike Prada, former NBA editor at SB Nation, a leading blog in niche sports reporting, received word on April 15 that a three-month furlough, from May 1 to July 1, was on its way. Vox Media, SB Nation’s parent company, made the decision to furlough 20% of its editorial staff in light of COVID-19 related financial concerns.

Prada said the announcement was jarring, but he wasn’t completely taken off guard. “Sometime around mid-February, I began to sound the alarm to friends and family about what it would mean for the NBA and for the U.S. in general, that this was going to really mess things up,” he said. Prada attributed his foresight to the industry he works in. “Well, we cover sports, but this stuff clearly matters. The NBA claims that they were ahead of the curve as the first professional sports league to shut down, but the fact is they were planning before that, so it kind of came across in our work as we were gauging their response to all this.”

As of right now, Prada doesn’t have much to cover outside the NBA Draft. Usually this time of year would be chock-full of playoff basketball. Instead, the season was cut short on March 11. Most teams had played  62 to 65 of t—heir regular season games, leaving the 2020 championship vacant.

The postseason is an extremely important part of the NBA’s season, both symbolically and financially the crescendo at the end of the NBA’s lengthy regular season. To compound these concerns, television revenue from the playoffs is crucial to the league’s financial success. If the NBA does not finish its season, players, owners and executives stand to lose millions. “There’s a good chance they’ll try [to finish playoffs]. This league is all about money, so it’ll probably take some sort of government moratorium to stop them,” Prada said. 

Many in and around the league have discussed quarantining participating players, coaches and staff in a hotel and playing the games without an audience. Prada believes that the season should be scrapped due to safety concerns, even in light of what would be the resulting large-scale losses to both journalism and the NBA. “That model of putting guys in a hotel would be a cruise ship basically, functionally, and as we’ve seen, cruise ships—putting a lot of people in condensed spaces and incubating—have lead to some of the worst outbreaks.” 

The NBA announced on April 25 that they were planning to allow teams to open their practice facilities to players and staff beginning May 1, shifting focus onto when, not if the league will try to finish its season. 

That said, the future schedules of almost every sport at both the collegiate and professional levels remain unclear. Bartholomew voiced concerns about lost revenue affecting play in the future. “If college football isn’t played next year, and since we didn’t have March Madness, a lot of these teams might have to consider cutting programs,” he said.

For now, journalists and fans alike will have to wait and see how leagues worldwide address these issues. Prada, though, perhaps the most well known of the three, was most skeptical about the future of sports journalism. “Probably, we’ll see a drop in the number of legitimate NBA insiders, and a clearing out of the middle, of midsize publications.” Though Prada’s words should be taken seriously, nobody can predict what will happen in coming months. Now comes the waiting.

Eating Diseased Animal Flesh

Despite warnings, Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods,” refuses to stop eating disease-ridden animal flesh

By Nick Rawling

A blood-lusting Andrew Zimmern, about to eat God-knows-what (Original Image Courtesy of Flickr)

While most Americans are adhering to recommendations from epidemiologists and other medical experts to shelter at home, Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods,” is completely out of control.

Despite desperate pleas from family members and close friends to postpone the shooting of the 14th season of his hit show, Zimmern has actually ramped up episode production during the pandemic.    

“Flights are so cheap right now,” Zimmern said. “I couldn’t let an opportunity like this go to waste.”

Zimmern’s team is currently filming in Xiaogan, China, where he plans to dine on pangolin and of course, bat.

“I really don’t buy into the whole ‘you shouldn’t do that, you’re going to give yourself a devastating illness’ thing,” Zimmern said. “It’s really no big deal. I ate bats in Thailand in season 1 and in Samoa in season 3. That’s true, you can Google that.”

Even more astonishingly, Zimmern told me he intends to prepare the nocturnal mammals “extra-rare,” explaining that “it’s just a texture thing, really.”

I also spoke with some Chinese locals, who seemed equal parts angered and confused by Zimmern’s bloodthirsty rampage. 

“First of all, this guy’s goofy round-lens glasses make him look like a shaved Teddy Roosevelt,” a nurse from Wuhan told me. “Second of all, I’ve literally never known anyone who’s eaten bats. You people are psychotic.”

One community restaurant owner, however, is making the most of the situation. 

“I don’t mind the chunky, nicer-looking version of Vin Diesel,” she said. “My business was dried up with everyone staying at home, but this guy comes in and will eat anything. Last night I gave him wet cat food, told him it was a pangolin stomach, and charged him $30.00 for it.”

After his tour through Central China, Zimmern will take viewers to Italy, Spain and finally, New York, because not all strange foods are in far-away places.
“Get this shit,” Zimmern said through a mouthful of bat liver pâté. “In New York they eat pizza with a crust so thin you can practically see through it — and they tell people that it’s good. How’s that for bizarre?”

Racial Implications

Black, Infected, and Unprotected: How Midwest African-American Communities Experience Coronavirus

By Tamia Fowlkes

As COVID-19 sweeps across the nation, claiming the lives of thousands of people across the United States, minority communities remain one of the most predominantly impacted groups in the country, with black Americans being increasingly more likely to contract the virus. 

In the Midwest, home to cities like Milwaukee, Detroit and Chicago, these issues expand far beyond access to healthcare, but are also tied to inadequate educational resources, lack of representation in government and socioeconomic status. Whether people contract the virus during religious services, while working or as a consequence of pre-existing health conditions, it is evident to most local citizens that the issue has lacked attention.

Antwain Alexander, a pastor from Flint, Michigan shares how he has watched the virus’ impact on Flint locals. “In the state of Michigan at least, over 40 people I know have died from it,” said Alexander, who contracted the virus in March at a church service. “I have a lot of friends who were checked into the hospital and never left. That’s been the most challenging part of dealing with it, is losing the people you know.”

Alexander and his wife in their church.

Alexander’s experience overcoming the virus and witnessing its impact on friends and family members displays just a fraction of the difficulty people have faced in getting tested, recovering and preventing spread. “I caught it at a church service, I believe, and soon after a lot of older leaders that I looked up to throughout my life started to get sick and passed away,” he said. 

Despite the variety of symptoms that Alexander experienced it still took several weeks for him to gain access to a test and proper diagnosis. “I went to the hospital twice and never got a test. I ended up getting a test because my doctor and I are really good friends. He called me up because I had been telling him how I’d felt the past few days and he was able to get one for me,” he said. “I met him in the parking lot and that’s where he tested me.”

After nearly a month of being sick, Alexander tested positive for Coronavirus. As one of many cases in the state of Michigan, Alexander said that he was incredibly lucky to have survived and gotten through his sickness without the tremendous struggle some of his peers experienced.

“In the black community, so many people are scared because they have seen so many people dying that they are scared to go out and get sick,” Alexander said, noting how impactful poverty and lack of access to resources has been on people’s safety. “For many people here, they suffer because they don’t have enough money to pay for healthy food which can lead to obesity, they can’t afford housing that allows them to really social distance, some of the water is not fixed in Flint and people are still impacted by lead poisoning.” These issues continue to escalate inequality within the state.

“I think COVID-19 is holding a light up to America and showing the disparate conditions for communities of color,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. 44% of Coronavirus casualties in Michigan are black citizens, a population which only represents 14% of the state.

Similarly, citizens in Wisconsin face extreme consequences in confronting the ever growing problems of inequality. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, as of April 23, black people account for 34% of coronavirus casualties in the state of Wisconsin. Despite the African-American population only being 6.7% of the total population, this community has been disproportionately impacted.

As the most segregated city in the country, Milwaukee has reaped what seems to be some of the most damaging consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak. With most reported cases in the state and a large population of black citizens dying from the virus, people continue to wonder why the virus is taking such a toll on black communities.

Whitley Riley, daughter of the first person in Milwaukee to die from the virus, shared her shock on social media saying “I know all of the jokes are funny, but this virus is real. People need to recognize that.” In an interview with the Washington Post, Riley said, “I don’t even know how my dad could have caught this because we are homebodies.”

Conversations about exposure to the virus and safety were highlighted recently in wake of the Wisconsin primary election, in which Milwaukee citizens had access to only five polling locations to accommodate a county which serves over 500,000 voters, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission. Since the primary, Coronavirus trackers have identified 40 cases related to interaction on Election Day in Milwaukee.

As dissatisfaction grows in these underrepresented communities, individuals who have experienced the virus and have lost family members to it continue to implore fellow community members to stay home. Wisconsin and Michigan’s governors have both faced criticism for their prevention measures, as this week protesters encircled capitol buildings and mayors’ mansions to protest the extension of stay-at-home orders. 

“This pandemic shouldn’t be political, but it seems like right now that’s not the case. The leadership in this country is so terrible right now. A country is not a religion or a party. The country should always be about its people,” said Alexander. “If it’s all about Americans and these are the laws that represent us, all of its people, then something needs to change.”

Voters stand in line on Election Day in Milwaukee.

As dissatisfaction grows in these underrepresented communities, individuals who have experienced the virus and have lost family members to it continue to implore fellow community members to stay home. Wisconsin and Michigan’s governors have both faced criticism for their prevention measures, as this week protesters encircled capitol buildings and mayors’ mansions to protest the extension of stay-at-home orders. 

As debates continue on the necessity of continued isolation in states across the country, research regarding possible solutions for these problems affecting marginalized communities drives lawmakers, health professionals, and local activists continue to demand equality and adequate care for black civilians and their families.

While in an interview with C-SPAN, Dr. Uche’ Blackstock, Founder and CEO of Advancing Health Equity spoke about the negative relationship between black communities’ neglect during COVID-19 while speaking about the history of black healthcare in America. Blackstock said “It’s not a situation in which black people are not being able to access health care, but also being abused and exploited by the healthcare system.”

“This pandemic shouldn’t be political, but it seems like right now that’s not the case. The leadership in this country is so terrible right now. A country is not a religion or a party. The country should always be about its people,” said Alexander. “If it’s all about Americans and these are the laws that represent us, all of its people, then something needs to change.”

Keeping the Faith

Keeping the Faith: How different religious communities practice faith during COVID-19

By Tamia Fowlkes

An increased level of self-awareness. An abundant gratitude for waking up every morning. More conversations with the people you love. It seems almost certain that most people would not have imagined they would achieve this by staying in the house for two months straight.

In the midst of constant death, struggle and extreme uncertainty, communities around the world are identifying ways to cope and deal with the consequences of COVID-19 in their everyday lives. Religious communities have been especially impacted in this journey as their experiences practicing their faith have rapidly changed.

Bekheit and her sister on the first day of Ramandan.

Finding Your Center

On the first day of Ramadan, Noor Bekheit, a junior at Washington University celebrates the holiday at home for the first time in three years. To her advantage, being stuck at home for the past few weeks and for the duration of Ramadan provides a deeper and more intentional meaning to the holiday.

“Ramadan is very specific and truly based on community,” Bekheit shared. “Of course, there is fasting and getting closer to God and becoming one within your own spiritually, but a lot of the rituals like breaking your fast at sunset, praying and celebrating are usually done with other people.” 

During Ramadan, one of the holiest months of the Islamic calander, Muslim communities take part in fasting and prayer from sunrise until sunset. According to Bekheit, during this time there are usually dinner parties to attend in which families come together to share in meals and quality time. Bekheit emphasized that the spirit of giving and sharing is what makes the holiday most enjoyable. 

“It’s been interesting to think about, we have been getting creative with how we connect. My family decided we would cook for our other family members and drop it off at their doors. We are supporting each other in eating each other’s food, connecting virtually and engaging in storytelling and prayer and trying our best to uphold the traditions we love, even though it’s not exactly the same.”

Bekheit expressed her gratitude for having the resources to stay healthy during this time and noted how the experience has enabled her to become more centered. “I’ve been trying to figure out how to get my schedule together and stay active and healthy while also balancing what I want to do during Ramadan. I want to read the Quran every day, do journaling and reflection and really devote my time to bettering myself as an individual.”

Though the moment has presented itself as a challenge, Bekheit shared her confidence in the prospect of good things in the future. “Being able to believe that I cannot continue to stress and worry about this because I truly believe that it is up to God is so reassuring,” she said. “This probably isn’t the way we wanted to spend Ramadan but it’s helping us get to know ourselves.”

Hearing the Truth

Every morning Dr. Norman Booker and his wife Sharon wake up, drink some coffee or a healthy breakfast smoothie and enjoy each other’s company at the coffee table. Being present and prayerful remains a priority in their household.

“We’ve made a prayer tabernacle in our home,” Booker said. “Every day around 12:00 p.m., at lunch time, we’ll go into our prayer closet and talk to God. We pray, we intercede in prayer, we post notes on the wall for deliverance and healing and the protection of others, but you can’t take credit in your prayer for something specific. For us, prayer keeps us in a community of faith.”

Booker, who has a doctorate in theology and has worked in ministries in the Church of God in Christ throughout his life, shared how his faith has guided him through the tremendous struggle that Coronavirus has posed to many families across the country. “I’ve lost friends and relatives, and I’ve cried and mourned constantly,” Booker said. 

In detailing his own personal experiences with the virus, Booker shared, “The lord has given to me an understanding that God allows certain things to happen because he told us that these trials were surely going to come and faith is really for keeping us able to go through.”

Optimism, faith and community seem to be a common player in many religious communities’ ability to overcome the challenges of social distancing and change in worship. Booker noted how these lessons can serve to uplift, encourage and challenge individuals to dig deeper in their faith journeys. “God has a way of allowing things to challenge and teach lessons to enhance our faith and our relationships. These things have made us closer. I’ve called people that I haven’t talked to in months and years because we’re reaching out and trying to connect,” said Booker.

“My sister says ‘I’m gonna go crazy,’ and I always tell her not to put that into the world,” Booker said. “You can make yourself miserable by continuing to say so. I believe you can speak yourself into being joyful and happy, so my faith has grown exponentially because I’ll just sit down and listen. If I feel in my spirit that it’s something I need to hear, I listen.”

A digital Mass with Pope Francis that was shared on Easter by ShalomWorld

Observing the Magnificent

Lisa Metz, a theology teacher at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin has remained relatively optimistic about the state of her current situation. As Metz and her students transitioned to online learning, it became crucial to seek positivity and hope within her community and home.

“Staying home and trying to be kind to ourselves was most important because at first I had this idea that we had to get all this stuff done and be super productive, and that wasn’t healthy,” Metz said. Maintaining an awareness of her situation and being present while teaching her students and caring for her family has motivated Metz to continue to learn, grow and reach out during her time at home.

 “We’re going to have to keep doing this, perhaps for a long time, but that’s okay because there are lots of ways to be Church,” Metz said. “The second semester classes I teach focus on social justice so we’ve been able to look at the challenges related to coronavirus in relation to urban and suburban communities and the disparity of infection. We’ve turned our attention to that and it has lent itself well to conversations about justice and faith.”

When reflecting on the Easter story, Metz shared the importance of recognizing that though the present moment is incredibly difficult, the solidarity of the experience and prospect of overcoming challenges is what shapes the human spirit.

“We have this puzzle table set up in our living room, in front of our picture window where we’ve been opening up the curtains a lot to let in the light. We normally don’t do that much. Through this window we can see a bush, and there’s a cardinal that made a nest and laid eggs right outside our window,” Metz said. “I just think we would’ve never been able to see that as a family if we kept our rushed routine and never just sat and looked,” Metz said. “You can have some great moments come out of this difficulty.” 

In exploring the experience of a variety of different faith communities, one thing remains clear. Hope and community are key players in the journey towards feeling uplifted and secure. Despite the immense struggle and pain felt around the world, these individuals and the communities they exist within strive to enhance their faith through community, observation and optimism.

Meet the Team

Mike Wagner, Professor

Year: Bachelor of Journalism, 1998 (University of Nebraska), PhD in Political Science, 2006 (Indiana University)
Reporting from: Madison
Favorite quarantine activity: Making up Covid parody songs with our kids
First thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Burn my mask/go sit in a coffee shop
One thing I’ve been listening to in quarantine: Tiny Desk concerts at NPR

Molly DeVore, Managing Editor

Major: Journalism (reporting and strat comm) and Environmental Studies with a Cinematic Production certificate 
Year: 3rd
Where I’m reporting from: Madison, WI
My favorite quarantine activity: Attempting to make a truly hideous rag rug
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Go to a restaurant and order food “for here” 
One thing I’ve been watching in quarantine: Love Island bby!

Tamia Fowlkes, Multimedia Editor

Major: Journalism and Political Science
Year: Sophomore
Where I’m reporting from: Milwaukee, WI
My favorite quarantine activity: Learning how to play the guitar and making tiktoks 🙂
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Hug my friends (with precaution)
One thing I’ve been listening to in quarantine: Future Nostalgia by Dua Lipa + Pod Save America

Genevieve Vahl, Multimedia Editor

Major: Reporting with Graphic Design and Digital Studies certificates 
Year: 4th year 
Where I’m reporting from: Madison and Milwaukee 
My favorite quarantine activity: rollerblading across the city  
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: go dancing One thing I’ve been readin in quarantine: Joan Didion Slouching Towards Bethlehem 

Abby Doeden, Web Editor

Major: Journalism (double tracking)
Year: Junior
Where I’m reporting from: Eden Prairie, MN
My favorite quarantine activity: Hanging out with my family and puppers!
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Go back to Madison and eat at my favorite restaurants and see my friends!!
One thing I’ve been watching in quarantine: All American

Harrison Freuck, Promotion Director

Major: Journalism (Reporting)
Year: Second
Where I’m reporting from: Milwaukee, Wisconsin
My favorite quarantine activity: Reading or puzzles
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Go to the lakefront of Lake Michigan and sit on the beach (assuming it is warm enough to do so)
One thing I’ve been watching in quarantine: Westworld (HBO Series)

Emily Knepple, Promotion Director

Major: Journalism (Reporting & Strat Comm) & French 
Year: Second
Where I’m reporting from: Highlands, New Jersey 
My favorite quarantine activity: Catching up on some forgotten Netflix. Doing a lot of nothing.
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Hopefully go to a movie theater. Or just hug my friends and grandparents. 
One thing I’ve been listening to/ watching in quarantine: New Strokes album is dope. Watching ‘Succession” on HBO, great for Journalism students. 10/10

Jennifer Hwang, Copy Editor

Major: Journalism and Communication Arts
Year: Sophomore 
Where I’m reporting from: Madison, WI
My favorite quarantine activity: Reading 
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Going to the mall with my friends
One thing I’ve been watching in quarantine: Re-watching Grey’s Anatomy, one of the best TV shows of all time

Nick Rawling, Copy Editor

Major: Journalism – Reporting and Spanish
Year: Sophomore
Where I’m reporting from: Verona, WI
My favorite quarantine activity: playing Webkinz
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Throw a massive party with my friends
One thing I’ve been watching in quarantine: Love Island (U.K. version)

Joe States, Multimedia Team

Major: Journalism (Reporting)
Year: Sophomore 
Where I’m reporting from: Kenosha, WI
My favorite quarantine activity: Drawing and cartooning
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: See my friends to make sure they didn’t starve to death at the apartment
One thing I’ve been listening to in quarantine: “People’s Faces,” Kate Tempest

Jason Shebilske, Multimedia Team

Major: Journalism – Double Tracking
Year: Senior
Where I’m reporting from: Appleton, WI
My favorite quarantine activity: Watching reruns of past football and baseball games
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Go to as many baseball games as I can (safely)One thing I’ve been watching in quarantine: The Newsroom

Ben Baker, Multimedia Team

Major: Journalism
Year: Sophomore
Where I’m reporting from: Ridgefield, CT
My favorite quarantine activity: Practicing guitar
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Go out to see a movie
One thing I’ve been listening to in quarantine: Led Zeppelin

Reagan Zimmerman, Multimedia Team

Major: Journalism and Strategic Communication
Year: Junior
Where I’m reporting from: Ripon, WI
My favorite quarantine activity: Family game night with the help from my cat, Lucky.
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Go back to Madison and head right to the Terrace with a bunch of friends!
One thing I’ve been watching in quarantine: So much NCIS.

Haley Bills, Web Team

Major: Journalism (reporting) and French
Year: Second
Where I’m reporting from: Madison, WI
My favorite quarantine activity: Cuddling with my dogs!!
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Catch up with and hug my friends
One thing I’ve been watching in quarantine: Trolls World Tour

Hunter Carroll, Web Team

Major: Journalism

Year: Junior

Where I’m reporting from: Pacific Palisades, California

My favorite quarantine activity: Sitting in my backyard

The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Golf with friends One thing I’ve been listening to/ reading/ watching in quarantine: Disclosure live stream mixes.

Shelby Evans, Web Team

Major: Journalism, reporting and Comm Arts, radio-tv-film
Year: Third
Where I’m reporting from: Eden Prairie, MN
My favorite quarantine activity: Puzzling! 
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Travel ! 
One thing I’ve been reading in quarantine: The Fourth Coast by Mary Blocksma

Philip Klinker, Promotion Team

Major: Journalism (reporting and strat comm)
Year: second
Where I’m reporting from: Brookfield, Wisconsin
My favorite quarantine activity: crossword puzzles or trivia
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Seeing a movie in the theater
One thing I’ve been reading in quarantine: Ghosts by Ibsen

Callie Lederman, Promotion Team

Major: Journalism – double tracking 
Year: Senior
Where I’m reporting from: Nashotah, WI
My favorite quarantine activity: Running outside (dependent upon Wisconsin weather of course) 
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Hang out with my friends and extended family!
One thing I’ve been watching in quarantine: Watching photoshop tutorials

Claudia Prevete, Promotion Team

Major: Journalism 
Year: Senior
Where I’m reporting from: Madison, WI
My favorite quarantine activity: In quarantine, I actually got a coloring book- which was a funny sort of childish hobby, but one that I actually really enjoyed. 
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine in over: Go out to eat at a crowded restaurant 
One thing I’ve been watching in quarantine: Watching an embarrassing amount of the TV show Love Island with my roommates 

Joe Marz, Documentarian

Major: Journalism and Communication Arts
Year: Sophomore
Where I’m reporting from: Madison, WI
My favorite quarantine activity: Playing games with my roommates
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Head out to Picnic Point
One thing I’ve been reading in quarantine: NFL Draft Predictions

Ben Farrell, Documentarian

Major: Journalism and Russian Language
Year: Junior
Where I’m reporting from: Madison, Wisconsin
My favorite quarantine activity: DJing and ordering records!
The first thing I am going to do when quarantine is over: Full court Basketball at the shell
One thing I’ve been listening to in quarantine: Long walks with Glenn Campbell in the earbuds have kept me feeling sane enough and extremely framatic

Healthcare Workers

The COVID-19 pandemic is forcing Emergency healthcare workers to adapt as professionals and as family members

By Nick Rawling

Dr. Jon Rawling and Allie Stowell, a UW-Madison student and scribe with Madison Emergency Physicians, at St. Clare Hospital in Baraboo (before the Covid-19 outbreak)

For most of us, the COVID-19 era has meant spending the bulk of our time at home, isolated from the threat of infection. Social distancing measures have provided time for reading a book that’s been laying around, trying unsuccessfully to bake or watching Netflix shows about breeding big cats.

But some of us still have to go to work. For Madison-area emergency medical staff, this means risking their lives every time they clock in to try to keep this pandemic in check.

Although Wisconsin has been spared the brunt of the mayhem wrought by the novel Coronavirus so far, doctors and nurses have still had to adapt, not only as professionals but in their lives at home. 

For Amber Rickman, a registered nurse in the Emergency Department at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, the biggest change has been the increased use of personal protective equipment (PPE). This means wearing a disposable gown, gloves, a respirator mask and a face shield regardless of the patient’s chief complaint, she explained.

“All of these items are designed to be one-time use, but as of right now I’m reusing my face shield and my mask,” Amber Rickman said. “I’m only allowed two masks in a given work week, so the idea that we could run out is real.”

For obvious reasons, she is worried about the possibility of PPE supplies being exhausted. 

“I cannot imagine what it would look like, and I’m trying really hard not to imagine that day,” Amber Rickman said.

Besides PPE, the equipment emergency medical staff need most during this crisis are tests. Jon Rawling, an emergency physician with Madison Emergency Physicians, said that while testing capabilities have drastically improved since the start of the pandemic, he would like to have more tests.

“We don’t know a lot of times, because there’s a lot of things that manifest with shortness of breath or fever,” Rawling said. “The lack of rapid and reliable testing increases the level of uncertainty and anxiety that goes with it.” 

Despite increased use of PPE and better testing capabilities, this uncertainty and anxiety is shared by Rawling’s colleagues.

Amber’s husband, Christian Rickman, is an emergency physician at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison. He said that one of the biggest changes for him since the outbreak has been a looming worry that one of his patients could get him sick.

“[We] go to work, and we accept the risks,” Christian Rickman said. “It never really crossed my mind that I’d be going into work with something like that hanging over my head.”

Rawling feels that stress too, especially because he is his family’s only source of income. 

“I’m worried about my ability to maintain income for my family,” Rawling said. “Because if I get Covid, I potentially miss a couple weeks of work, maybe even a month or more depending on how long I have symptoms.”

This anxiety is warranted. Health care workers account for at least 14% of Wisconsin’s 7,314 COVID-19 cases, according to the DHS

At the end of March, this fear almost became a reality for Christian Rickman after he was told he had to self-quarantine because he’d been exposed to a patient who tested positive for COVID-19. 

For more than a week after he got the news, he had to sleep and live in his basement, away from his family. Luckily, Christian Rickman never developed symptoms and only had to spend eight days in self-quarantine before returning to work.

“It was a stress on the family, which I think was certainly bigger than the stress on work and my partners,” Christian Rickman said. “My partners were really quick to trade shifts. I ended up not really needing to lose too many hours.”

For Amber Rickman, one of the difficult parts about Christian Rickman’s quarantine was explaining the situation to their young children.

“We were able to provide information for the boys, which I think was really important and really helpful,” Amber Rickman said. “We were able to tell our sons ‘hey, we can’t hug and kiss Daddy like we normally do. Let’s practice our air high fives.’”  

Even those who aren’t sure they’ve been exposed to COVID-19 are not leaving anything to chance. Amber Rickman and Rawling are both showering and changing before interacting with any members of their family when they come home from their shifts.

Under normal circumstances that would never happen, Christian Rickman explained.

“When I come home from work, normally I’d play with the kids, sometimes wouldn’t even change clothes, give them a hug, go play sports, do whatever,” Christian Rickman said. “But now they can’t get within 6 feet of us when we come home.”

While the healthcare professionals I spoke to are taking this situation very seriously, some Wisconsinites are not acting as carefully. 

On April 7, Wisconsin went ahead with in-person voting during their spring primary election despite warnings from experts. Rawling didn’t believe this was a wise choice. 

“The six foot distance is not necessarily a perfect precaution, and at that time cases were still steadily increasing in the state of Wisconsin,” Rawling said. “It just added risk to anyone involved in the polling process or anyone who set out to vote outside of a mail-in ballot.”

As of April 21, seven cases of COVID-19 have been linked to activities related to that election, according to the Journal Sentinel

Despite this, some Madisonians believe that Gov. Evers’ stay-at-home order is too harsh. On April 24, thousands gathered outside the Capitol to protest the order. 

While Rawling, Christian and Amber Rickman all told me they sympathized with the protesters to some degree, Christian said the protests could ultimately be self-defeating.

“If [re-opening the state] is ultimately the goal, then continuing on with social distancing, self-quarantine, those kinds of things, for a relatively limited time up front to open things up more widely on the back end may ultimately be the best way to accomplish that,” Christian Rickman said.

Though Amber Rickman said the protests were unsafe, she also said that she believed it may be time to start opening back up in phases.

“I think we can start to open things up and test the waters. I mean at some point, you have to,” Amber Rickman said. “Do I think we’re looking at big sporting events anytime soon? No. But do I think we can get back in the restaurants and our hair stylists? Yes I do.”   

Rawling agreed with that sentiment, but cautioned against opening things up too quickly.

“The fact that we’ve been able to limit the number of deaths and hospitalizations is good, but that doesn’t mean that we should underestimate [COVID-19],” Rawling said. “It’s an indicator, I think, that what was done as far as stay-at-home orders and social distancing has made a difference.”

From this, it seems like there might be light at the end of the tunnel. Even still, in an era defined by contradictions and uncertainty, Amber Rickman emphasized that we must proceed thoughtfully.

“Please adhere to the recommendations from those with a medical background. Please listen to what those folks have to say,” Amber Rickman said. “Your epidemiologists, infectious disease physicians, your healthcare workers, your laboratory folks. These are the people that are qualified to speak about this particular issue. Trust what they have to say. Please go by their guidelines.”

Far From Home

Far from home: Living a time zone away with aging parents at the heart of the pandemic

By Ben Farrell

Faizan e Madinah Mosque, 715 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn

It was a grey March morning in Madison, Wisconsin. I sat, slouched in Helen C. White library “cafe”, kneading the final quarter of that day’s peanut butter Clif Bar in my left hand, trying to gauge the minimum effort possible to earn the ever-illusive AB on a test I had later that day. I opened my email, falling back on procrastination, thinly veiled in productivity. “Updates to Campus operations”, from Chancellor Becky Blank, was the first message I saw.

Though what I read wasn’t entirely unexpected, I was shocked. Classes had been moved online until at least April 10th. At the time, I was dumbfounded. Was this Corona thing really that serious? In just under 48 hours, I had a flight back to New York to see my mother and father. Until that moment, I hadn’t had any second thoughts about going home. But if an institution of this size was exercising extreme caution, shouldn’t I be too?

That same day, my mother, Denise Rinaldo, boarded the subway at Beverly Road near our home in Flatbush, a neighborhood in south Brooklyn. She was on her way to teach a fourth grade english class, help highschoolers locate much-needed books, and keep the general peace in the ever-chaotic library. My father, now retired, sat at home in the kitchen, preparing a pot of coffee, waiting to embark on his daily walk around prospect park. None of us knew it, but that was the last normal day we would have for who knows how long.

Mitoushi Sushi, Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn

As an only child, the focus of our familial anxiety is almost always directed toward my academic pursuits. After I decided not to come home, things felt different. My father suffers from Parkinson’s disease and has poor heart health, rendering him extremely vulnerable to severe infection. My mother, though healthy, is a senior. We are extremely lucky in our relative financial and home security. Even so, my parents have been stripped of their agency (along with everyone else in New York). I’ve never felt more physically secure than them, and so responsible for their wellbeing. This change prompted me to ask a question: How have their lives changed in the past couple of months? I decided to interview in the hopes of answering that question.

On April 22nd, I stepped out of my house, and walked down to James Madison Park. I took my place on a bench, and dialed my phone, “Mom?”

“I hear you’re outside. Is your mask on?” she scolded.

“You’re in New York, not me”

I started out by asking her a simple question: when did it become clear to you that this was really and truly going to affect your life, in a way that other things just hadn’t?

“I realized when I talked to my friend Eileen. She’s 85, and her husband just died. We go to the same dance class, she’s still in really good shape, but she hates being stuck inside. As each thing closed, she got more and more upset and there was just nothing we could do.”

Church of the Holy Innocents, E. 17th Street, Brooklyn

As stores shuttered and the city’s residents fled, my mom said she was looking for a way to do something. For years, a network of thousands of people had built up around her. The unspoken co-dependencies and silent relationships every New Yorker has, from aloof neighbors to the man on our corner who sells watches out of a suitcase, began to fall away. This sea of many individuals, which becomes the unified medium onto which your life cast, can only be seen for what it is when its gone, “I found myself just standing by the train station the other day like waiting for the Q train to come in, just to see the Q train, to help me imagine being with everyone each morning,” my mother said, exhaling.

My father, unsurprisingly, started our interview with a joke, “soon there’ll be kids roaming the streets again. As soon as it’s warm, I bet they’ll be out.” He also made sure to let me know that unlike my mother, he was managing to stay positive, “unlike your mother I’ve been starting to hate the subway. How many times can a man my age be expected to let some dweeb like you cough in his face?”

A goofy seventy two year old, his approach to things both serious and trivial has always been tinged with humor. But, as our conversation continued, a twinge of sadness became audible even through the phone, “Mr. Vincent, our barber, he’s worried. He might be going bankrupt. What can I do? I don’t know. No people, no haircuts, no haircuts no money.”

“I just want to walk down the street and greet people,  say hi to people,” he said almost indignantly, “I’m here with your mom but you know how I talk to people. Now everyone crosses the street when they see me. Well not me… But that’s how things are.”

Mashallah Restaurant, 663 Coney Island Avenue, Brooklyn

In essence, what my father was trying to tell me was this: never before had New Yorkers been defeated like this, “A lot of people draw the comparison to 9/11. To me that’s just wrong. When 9/11 happened, it was this horrendous thing. Then in a week or so, at least in New York, me and the people we knew, we were back to business. We all talked about it, we wanted to help each other as a community, but it wasn’t fear that won the day. Now, it’s just fear. People are afraid.”

The phone line fell silent. My father, like my mother a few minutes earlier, let out a long sigh, “It’s creepy Ben. I don’t know what else to say. I don’t like uneasiness, and that’s what it is.”

After I said my goodbyes to my Paul, my dad, my mom took the phone again, “let me tell you one more story; we were standing outside of this church, on Flatbush, admiring it… and this guy got out of his car and said, ‘want to buy it?’

Obviously, we didn’t. But he was really nice, and you know, socially distanced, he showed us everything about the church. The pastor, this guy, was involved with the black power movement in the 60s or 70s. And he said that Sunday, they were having their last service. And I just in that moment, realized how sad it is that, like, people can’t gather together and like how you take it for granted that you can just, like, go and play Sunday with their community.”

My mother said she wanted to remind me that, as bad as things got in our heads, we need to remember who to really look out for. Who it is that doesn’t feel uneasy, but is uneasy. We exchanged our love, and hung up.

COVID-19 Timelines

Color coded timelines:


May 7, 2018: The White House sends a plan to Congress proposing budget cuts, removing $252 million for health security preparedness in funds remaining from 2014-15 Ebola epidemic

May 8, 2018: The National Security Council removes Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, the top official responsible for pandemic response, and disbands the global health security team

Ziemer’s departure, along with the breakup of his team, comes at a time when many experts say the country is already underprepared for the increasing risk of a pandemic or bioterrorism attack.

Jan. 29, 2019: The Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment warns that a major disease outbreak is one of the top global threats in the world

“We assess that the United States and the world remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death and disability, severely affect the world economy, strain international resources, and increase on the United States for support”

Dec. 31, 2019: First cluster of pneumonia cases reported in Wuhan to WHO

Jan. 6, 2020: The CDC issues a travel notice for Wuhan, China

Jan. 13, 2020: The first confirmed case outside of China is reported in Thailand

Jan. 15, 2020: The first U.S. case of COVID-19 is confirmed, a man who traveled from Wuhan

Jan. 22, 2020: President Trump states that the United States has the pandemic “totally under control

Jan. 24, 2020: Three confirmed cases reported in France. This is the disease’s first appearance in Europe. Australia confirms four are also infected

Jan. 30, 2020: WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declares the 2019-nCoV outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern

Jan. 30, 2020: First confirmed COVID-19 case in Wisconsin

Jan. 31, 2020: The Trump Administration suspends entry into to U.S. for most foreign nationals who had traveled to China in the past 14 days

Feb. 5, 2020: Local officials confirm a Dane County resident is self-isolating after testing positive for COVID-19, becoming the first confirmed case in Wisconsin and the 12th in the US

Feb. 11, 2020: Virus officially named COVID-19

Feb. 13-18, 2020: China hits it’s peak in COVID-19 cases after health officials begin confirming cases through laboratory test results and chest imaging, reporting over 72,000 cases

Feb. 19, 2020: Trump states: “I think it is going to work out fine, I think when we get into April, in the warmer weather, that has a very negative effect on that type of virus”

“We have no reason to believe that this virus would behave differently in different temperatures, which is why we want aggressive action in all countries to make sure that we prevent onward transmission, and that it’s taken seriously in every country.”

WHO press conference, COVID-19 – 05 March 2020

Feb. 26, 2020: President Trump places Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the US government response to the novel coronavirus, amid growing criticism of the White House’s handling of the outbreak

March 9, 2020: The Ohio State University becomes the first Big Ten university to suspend in-person classes

March 10-12, 2020: The remainder of Big Ten universities suspend in-person classes

March 11, 2020: Trump announces new travel restrictions from 26 European countries in the Schengen Area, not including the United Kingdom, applies to foreign nationals and not American citizens and permanent residents who’d be screened before entering the country

March 11, 2020: WHO categorizes COVID-19 as a pandemic

March 11, 2020: Suspension of UW-Madison Spring 2020 Study Abroad Programming

March 11, 2020: Chancellor Blank announces that, in order to minimize risk of COVID-19, the university will be closed to students and faculty until April 10th, effective March 23

March 12, 2020: University of Wisconsin Athletics announces a plan for COVID-19 as a part of The Big Ten Conference; attendance at all Big Ten Men’s Basketball Tournament games will be limited to student-athletes, coaches, event staff, essential team and conference staff, TV network partners, credentialed media and immediate family members of the participating teams

March 12, 2020: Gov. Evers declares COVID-19 a health emergency in Wisconsin

March 13, 2020: Individuals on campus at Northwestern University and at the University of Minnesota test positive for COVID-19, becoming the first such cases on a Big Ten campus

March 13, 2020: Gov. Evers orders all Wisconsin schools to close

March 14, 2020: UW Foundation establishes COVID-19 emergency student support fund, The University of Wisconsin–Madison implements a new fund to support students with financial struggles during COVID-19, such as unexpected travel costs, limited opportunities to work and funds for daily living costs, and/or decreased funding available for basic resources

March 14, 2020: Michigan State University becomes the first Big Ten university to postpone their in-person commencement ceremony

March 15, 2020: Public Health Madison & Dane County issues an emergency order, stopping any large gatherings of 50 people or more

March 16th, 2020: All Dane County schools are closed

March 16, 2020: A UW-Madison employee tests positive for COVID-19, becoming the first member of the campus community to do so

March 16, 2020: Trump advises Americans to self-isolate for 15 days – the president announces Social Distancing guidelines to be in place for two weeks that are then subsequently extended through the month of April

“We’d much rather be ahead of the curve than behind it,” President Trump said at a White House news conference. “Therefore, my administration is recommending that all Americans, including the young and healthy, work to engage in schooling from home when possible, avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people, avoid discretionary travel and avoid eating and drinking at bars, restaurants and public food courts.”
The New York Times

March 17, 2020: UW-Madison cancels in-person classes for the remainder of the semester, and students who traveled for spring break are advised to reconsider returning to Madison

March 17, 2020: Gatherings of ten or more people are restricted in Wisconsin

March 18, 2020: UW-Madison announces prorated housing refunds, and students are asked to not return to the residence halls following spring break. A move-out plan spanning several weeks is announced. All libraries on campus close

March 19, 2020: Wisconsin records its first two deaths caused by COVID-19

March 19, 2020: Wisconsin lawmakers in D.C. are among the few lawmakers to vote against a bill aimed at expanding sick leave and unemployment benefits. The bill passed in both houses ofCongress and enjoyed bipartisan support.

March 19, 2020: Trump signs into law an emergency coronavirus relief package for paid sick leave and free testing

March 19, 2020: University of Maryland becomes the final Big Ten university to cancel in-person classes for the remainder of semester

March 20, 2020: Rutgers University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Michigan become the first Big Ten universities to announce alternative grading options for their students. Rutgers and the University of Minnesota announced pass/fail grading options while the University of Michigan gave students a pass/no record option

March 20, 2020: International Division, shares that IAP study abroad programs and IIP international internships planned for summer 2020 will be cancelled. This includes programs offered in collaboration with CALS, WSB, and CoE, as well as Wisconsin in Washington

March 20-27: Italy hits it’s peak in COVID-19 cases

March 23, 2020: Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway issues an emergency order in response to the pandemic

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway

March 23, 2020: University of Michigan becomes the first Big Ten university to shift all summer courses online

March 23, 2020: UW-Madison postpones its in-person commencement ceremony, announcing virtual commencement plans and an intention for an alternate in-person event at a later date. Chancellor Blank releases announcement video

March 24, 2020: Gov. Evers implements Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order

March 25, 2020: A Dane County resident in her 70s becomes the county’s first death from COVID-19

March 26, 2020: UW-Madison announces a pass/fail grading option that can be requested even after final grades are posted

March 26, 2020: The U.S. has the most confirmed cases of COVID-19 of any country in the world

New York Times headline on March 26, 2020

March 27, 2020: President Trump signs H.R. 748, the “Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security” (CARES) Act – the coronavirus stimulus bill – into law. This emergency legislation implements broad ranging remedial measures designed to curb the economic impact of the pandemic. It also modifies the FDA drug approval process, emergency paid sick leave programs, health insurance coverages for COVID-19 testing and vaccinations, medical product supplies and Medicare and Medicaid

March 27: Temporary ban on evictions and foreclosures implemented in Wisconsin

March 29, 2020: U.S. has over 140,000 confirmed cases; South Korea has over 9,000, Japan over 1,800, Singapore 844 (exactly), France over 40,000, India over 1,000, the U.K. over 19,000, Italy over 97,000, Spain over 80,000, Belgium over 10,000, Iran over 38,000

March 29, 2020: Trump extends social distancing measures until April 30

April 2, 2020: Johns Hopkins reports more than 1,000,000 cases worldwide

April 2, 2020:  UW-Madison summer term suspends in-person summer term courses and shifts to online only; scholarship deadlines are extended. Madison expands online summer offerings to include more than 300 courses

April 6, 2020: Gov. Evers attempts to postpone the April 7th elections by executive order. His decision is overturned by Wisconsin’s state supreme court

April 7, 2020: Wisconsin holds its spring primary elections. Despite fears that COVID-19 would stop residents from voting, Dane County sees an increase in voter turnout

Duane Steinhauer waits for absentee ballot envelopes to be opened as he helps out with counting the votes at a Madison City Clerk office space in Madison, Wis., Monday, April 13, 2020

April 8, 2020: Wisconsin’s COVID-19 death toll tops 100.

April 9, 2020: SOAR is shifted online for the summer to ensure the safety of students and staff; new undergraduate students will enroll in classes, meet peers and an academic advisor and get connected to campus resources through an online experience

April 14, 2020: Trump halts financial contributions to the WHO

April 15, 2020: Income continuation remains an option for student employees, UW–Madison extends income to federal work-study students, students currently working remotely, and students who are no longer able to work due to the COVID-19 pandemic and reduced campus operations

April 15, 2020: Evers signs a COVID-19 response package into law. The bill is approved unanimously by lawmakers in the state legislature after nearly a month of partisan debate, and aims to secure increased federal funding for Medicaid and unemployment benefits.

The Wisconsin State Senate meets in a virtual session on the COVID-19 Bill

April 17, 2020: Trump tweets support for anti-quarantine protests

April 20, 2020: Gov. Evers unveils the Badger Bounce Back plan, a three-stage approach to reopening the state’s economy after a consistent drop in the number of newly announced COVID-19 cases per day is observed and testing rates for the virus increase.

April 21, 2020: Trump orders pause on issuing green cards

April 24, 2020: Thousands gather at Wisconsin’s State Capitol protesting the Stay-at-Home order

April 27, 2020: Brown County surpasses Milwaukee County for the highest COVID-19 infection rate in Wisconsin after an outbreak at a meat processing plant.

May 4, 2020: UW-Madison faculty and students launch COVID-19 Wisconsin Connect, a free desktop and mobile app that provides information, social support and resources for Wisconsinites