COVID-19 killed a thousand Wisconsinites in three weeks. These residents don’t see the danger. – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 2020-12-12 07:05:54 –

Protesters will be seen at a rally held at the Wisconsin State Capitol on April 24, 2020. They demanded an extensive closure of Wisconsin’s normal life and business aimed at curbing the coronavirus pandemic. A few weeks later, Governor Tony Evers’ curfew was overturned by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Despite the surge in deaths from the state’s pandemic, some Wisconsin residents have exaggerated the threat of COVID-19, masks are dangerous, and restrictions to control the disease. Believes to be part of a plan to ruin the economy and make people dependent on the government. (Photo provider: Will Cioci / Wisconsin Watch)

Dan virtually trusts the media and medical institutions to say nothing about the COVID-19 pandemic. He thinks the threat is exaggerated. And saying as much on Twitter has sparked some heated debate.

“When I ask a question, I’m told I’m trying to kill my grandma or doing something wrong, and not wearing a mask makes me feel unpatriotized,” he told Wisconsin Watch. It was.

Dan, Muskego, Wisconsin, is an active voter who has worked in restaurants for the past few years. He demanded that Wisconsin Watch omit his surname for fear of online harassment. He counts himself as one of the few who sees the “real world,” unlike those who “live in ignorance.”

Dan, believing that “both sides of the aisle are completely corrupt,” characterized the COVID-19 curfew as a deliberate attempt by Democratic politicians to turn the US economy into a “tank.” I am.

“I feel like they’re literally trying to destroy the business,” he said. “And that’s a bigger agenda I believe in: … trying to make people dependent on government income.”

He’s not the only one to see stay-at-home orders and business restrictions as a coordinated attack on commerce, rather than a last resort to delay the epidemic of highly infectious diseases that killed more than 250,000 people in the United States. .. Wisconsin, a state that includes more than 3,700.

In the spring, an estimated 1,500 protesters gathered at the Wisconsin State Capitol to demand the release of the state-wide COVID-19 lockdown. Others blame wearing masks (an important public health strategy) to cause infections rather than prevent them.

During the summer, members of the Appleton City Council were forced to defeat unfounded rumors that contact tracers were monitoring residents. And in the extreme case, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Health Department staff were recently threatened with murder for enforcing the COVID-19 order.

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Dr. Jeff Pothoff, Chief Quality and Safety Officer at UW Health, said false information was a destructive force against the state’s coronavirus response.

“When the pandemic began, I think no one thought that one of the biggest barriers we had to overcome was false information from people who didn’t know what they were talking about.” He said.

Skeptics interviewed by Wisconsin Watch accept the increasingly popular QAnon conspiracy theory, generally suspect vaccination, consume non-traditional medical advice, and exaggerate public health considerations. It includes people who value personal freedom more than they believe they are. They also admit that their beliefs put them at the crossroads of work and family.

Dietram Schufele, a professor of communications at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who studies the dynamics of public attitudes and policies surrounding emerging science, said conspiracy thinking was common during the national crisis.

“It’s partly human in nature,” Scheufele said, adding that such a theory was promoted by government officials, including President Donald Trump.

Scientists are tasked with removing false information about COVID-19, but their own understanding of the new coronavirus evolves in real time, leading to confusion, skepticism, and even denial of respiratory illness. I will.

“We knew that we would produce a lot of science that would turn out to be wrong,” Scheufele said. “Make mistakes in the spotlight seen by 330 million Americans. That mistake, perhaps a small mistake, can be seen by everyone.”

Roots of denialism

The belief that so many people believe that a pandemic is unrealistic, or at least not a big deal, is part of a mental mechanism known as biased assimilation and motivated reasoning.

“I don’t care what you say to me, as I only adapt it to my existing belief system. I’m not going to change my mind,” Schufele explained the phenomenon. .. “Of course, like a pandemic, when we need to change our behavior, we need to change our interactions and our daily lives, but that’s totally dysfunctional.”

This denial affects the looming problem, vaccination, as the world moves into a new, sensitive stage of the pandemic. Countries are competing to develop multiple coronavirus vaccines for distribution, but many US residents say they do not take them.

Susan has been educating for 28 years and said she would quit her job in a school district in northern Wisconsin if she needed to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Susan asked the Wisconsin watch to use a pseudonym. She fears that opposition to vaccination could endanger her career.

“Many people in our school district and in the medical field so far feel exactly the same. They don’t want it,” she said. “It was done too fast.”

On November 17, 2020, PAPR Hood healthcare professionals walk down the corridor within the COVID-19 unit of UW Health University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin. The pandemic has hit Wisconsin and other Midwestern states. Causes record levels of infection and death. (Photo provider: Angela Major / WPR)

About three in five adults in the United States said they would “definitely or probably” get the COVID-19 vaccine in a national survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in November. This is an increase from about half of the respondents in September. However, that means that 2 out of 5 people are not going to be vaccinated.

Susan believes the pandemic is genuine but exaggerated. She was COVID-19 positive on September 29, after becoming ill with similar symptoms in January. (I believe she caught the coronavirus twice.) After missing work for nearly a month during the two illnesses, she was still short of breath and struggling to walk down the corridor at work. doing.

Mixed mask messages create distrust

Susan denounces Governor Tony Evers’ mask obligations, accusing him of having to wear a mask at work due to dyspnea. She does not believe that masks help delay the spread of COVID-19, but instead claims to represent a health hazard.

“I think it got worse in northern Wisconsin because Maskman Date came into effect,” she said.

But what happened in northern Wisconsin wasn’t unique. In the upper midwest, which escaped the surge that hit New York in April and early May, COVID-19 infections began to increase this summer and continue into winter in states with various masking obligations.

And there is no evidence to support the claim that wearing a mask is harmful to your health. However, in the early days of the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discouraged the general public from wearing masks unless they had symptoms of COVID-19.

The CDC reversed the course on April 3, and some people questioned the authorities’ advice. Subsequent studies have confirmed that the mask protects the wearer and others from the droplets of the viral respiratory droplets when worn on the nose and mouth. The CDC recently recommended “wearing a universal mask” for all indoor activities outside a private home, and for outdoor activities that cannot maintain a social distance of 6 feet.

She strongly opposes wearing a mask and vaccination with COVID-19, but Susan supports another curfew throughout the state to fight the breathtaking virus. And she trusts public health authorities like Dr. Anthony Fauci — sometimes.

“Do I believe in Dr. Fouch? Damn, I believe in him. He is very good at his work and I firmly believe in him,” she said paused. .. “Except for that mask part. I don’t believe it.”

“I don’t have to be afraid”

Julie Drigott believes that “wearing a mask is absolutely insane.”

“It’s never normal to keep people locked up, and it’s never normal to wear a diaper in my mouth,” she said, adding that wearing a mask makes her dizzy.

Career teacher Drigott recently moved to a small village in Little Prairie to realize her dream of running a small farm school. A handful of children visit her several times a week for guidance.

In the early days of the pandemic, Drigott said he was “paralyzed by fear.” As someone already ill, she was afraid that “this would kill me.”

She went looking for a more secure source of information. Drigot is looking at many websites known to create pseudoscientific content, such as The HighWire with Del Bigtree, the leading voice of the national anti-vaccination movement.

In the upper midwest, which escaped the surge that hit New York in April and early May, COVID-19 infections began to increase this summer and escalated in the fall and winter. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The website promoted anti-mask sentiment and an uncovered “Great Reset” conspiracy theory claiming that world leaders destroyed capitalism and organized a pandemic to rule the world economy. ..

In July, Bigtree’s YouTube account was deactivated due to pushing false information about vaccines and COVID-19. This includes his suggestion that people should be intentionally exposed to the coronavirus.

Drigot has a problem with “censorship” of voices like Bigtree. She said all perspectives should be freely shared.

“I can make my own decision, thank you very much, isn’t it? That’s my attitude,” Drigot said.

“Looking for the truth”

Dan politically describes himself as “the middle of the road” and admits that he has a history of conspiracy theories. However, he has a problem with the term “conspiracy theory”. It has been used to undermine the credibility of those who seek the truth, he says.

“Looking for the truth, you’re like guiding yourself there, and eventually you’ll understand for yourself what’s going on,” he said.

Phlebotomist Essaha Ceesay works at the COVID-19 unit at UW Health’s University Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin, November 17, 2020 (Photo courtesy of Angela Major / WPR).

Dan explained his belief in QAnon in a gentle tone. This is an unfounded far-right theory that helps Trump expose the Cabal of celebrities, journalists, and politicians who worship Satan and prey on children. Dan said he has begun to follow QAnon since it appeared on the anonymous bulletin board 4Chan in October 2017.

“It makes it more legal to me as the media attacks it,” he said.

He is wary of how quickly the vaccine was developed and wonders if the “endgame” is forced vaccination. All evidence is falsifiable and “there is no real information,” he said.

The debate caused difficulties in Dan’s private life. He once spoke freely about politics with his mother, but that changed during President Trump’s term, he said.

“We are in conflict with each other, and it doesn’t feel very good,” Dan said. “It’s terrible. It’s not fun to live in this.”

Howard Hardy is a Madison-based journalist False alarm toolkit for consumers Funded by Craig Newmark Philanthropies. He is a Fellow of First Draft, an organization that trains journalists to detect and report disinformation. Wisconsin Watch ( We work with the University of Wisconsin Public Radio, PBS Wisconsin, other news media, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Journalism Mass Communication Department. All works created, published, posted, or distributed by Wisconsin Watch do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or its affiliates.

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