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Wednesday, November 24, 2021
A sunset in Townsend viewed through a glass globe • Reader photo by Judi Fellows
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(Graphic by Morgaine Ford-Workman)

From the Editor: Hug Your Family Tighter This Thanksgiving 

  • It hasn't been easy lately in Wisconsin. We've been at the center of two grim, international media firestorms between the Kyle Rittenhouse trial and the Waukesha parade tragedy. The unfortunate throughline of both events is death—unnecessary, senseless death—that will leave two families without their loved ones for a second holiday season, and six families with empty chairs at the table for the first time.
  • As you gather for Thanksgiving celebrations with family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors, please take time to appreciate each other's company and keep in your thoughts and prayers those who have recently lost family members or whose emotional wounds have been reopened by a jury. We need each other to make it through such times of tragedy and collective mourning.
  • In observance of the holiday and to give our team a much-needed rest, UpNorthNews' daily newsletter will not be published tomorrow or Friday. We will return with more stories Monday. Until then, keep an eye on our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts for some stories we'll be publishing over the weekend.
  • We'll be taking a beat, and we hope you can, too.

—Jonathon Sadowski, Managing Editor

13 Children Still Hospitalized After Waukesha Parade Tragedy

  • Thirteen children are still hospitalized after a driver plowed through the Waukesha Christmas Parade Sunday afternoon, according to a Tuesday evening update from Children's Wisconsin.
  • One child injured at the parade, 8-year-old Jackson Sparks, died Tuesday. Six children remained in critical condition, three were in fair condition, and four were in good condition as of the update.
  • Darrell E. Brooks, a 39-year-old Milwaukee man, has been charged in connection with the incident that has so far left six dead and 62 injured. The five other deceased victims were between the ages of 52 and 81.

—Reported by Jonathon Sadowski

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Just Before Thanksgiving, New COVID Cases Hit a 2021 High

  • As Wisconsin recorded its highest one-day new-case total of COVID-19 infections Tuesday, state health experts are urging people to take safety precautions amid gatherings during the holiday season. 
  • The number of new COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin has surged in recent weeks and on Tuesday reached 4,264, according to state Department of Health Services figures. The seven-day new case average is also at its highest this year, at 3,148. 
  • Those numbers have risen steadily since August and are the highest they have been since a statewide virus spike last fall and early winter. While people have tired of—and, in many cases, openly opposed—wearing face masks at public gatherings and taking other precautions proven to reduce virus transmission, health experts say such measures are necessary to reduce disease spread.
  • Getting vaccinated against the virus is necessary to curb growing infections, health officers said, noting that includes getting booster shots. Currently, 55.9% of state residents are fully vaccinated. “We need people to wear masks and take other measures to slow transmission of this virus,” Chippewa County Health Officer Angela Weideman said. “Otherwise I worry these [virus infection] numbers are going to keep climbing.”

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People Don't Want to Work? Record-Low Unemployment Numbers Say Otherwise.

  • The number of people in the US applying for unemployment benefits dropped sharply last week to levels not seen in over half a century, according to data from the Department of Labor. The government counted 199,000 jobless claims for the week ending Nov. 20, down 71,000 from the week before. The last time the nation saw this few new unemployment applications was in November 1969, when the figure was 197,000.
  • The four-week average for unemployment applications also saw a downward trend, dropping by 21,000. Business groups have complained of labor shortages, while many workers have enjoyed leverage to switch careers or demand better conditions, salaries, and benefits.
  • The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development also released metropolitan-level unemployment figures Wednesday for the month of October. Seventeen of the state’s 34 largest cities hit record-low levels of unemployment. All 72 counties saw their rates drop, with 38 hitting all-time lows.
  • In keeping with historic trends, areas with more people of color have lagged behind Wisconsin’s majority-white counties in unemployment. Menominee and Milwaukee counties, which have the state’s largest Indigenous and Black populations, respectively, recorded two of the highest levels of unemployment. Two rural, majority-white counties, Adams and Iron, matched Milwaukee County’s 3.5% jobless rate. Forest County's unemployment was 4.1%, bnehind only Menominee County's 5.1%.

—Reported by JT Cestkowski

'Jesus Christ Superstar' Actor Arrested in Milwaukee for Alleged Role in Jan. 6 Insurrection

  • James Beeks, the actor playing Judas in a traveling production of "Jesus Christ Superstar," was arrested Tuesday in Milwaukee for his alleged role in the Jan. 6 US Capitol insurrection.
  • According to prosecutorial documents, Beeks is a member of the far-right militia Oath Keepers and attended the insurrection with other members. He faces a felony charge of obstruction of Congress and a misdemeanor charge of unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds, the Department of Justice said Tuesday.
  • Beeks, a Florida resident, was arrested Tuesday hours before the production's first performance in Milwaukee, according to WITI-TV. The production is in town through Sunday, and a spokesperson confirmed to WITI that Beeks has been suspended from the show.
  • Six Wisconsin men have also been charged in relation to the insurrection.

—Reported by Jonathon Sadowski. Photo via US Department of Justice.

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