Madison Resources

Resources for health and well-being in Madison

By Claudia Prevete


  1. 2-1-1 General Hotline: 
  2. Domestic Abuse Intervention Services Hotline:
  3. UW Health COVID Hotline: 
  4. Emergency Financial Resources Information, Unemployment Information and Information on Madison Urban League Employment Specialists : Guide via
    1. Guide here

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.

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