Tag Archives: COVID-19 Pandemic

The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the 2020 Elections

submitted by Jessika Kasten

Michael WagnerThis week, UW-Madison School of Journalism Professor Michael Wagner spoke to the Downtown Rotarians on Pandemic Voting: Information, Geography and Polarization in the 2020 Elections. The J-School has done a lot of research on the impacts of media and voting and has tracked the polarization of Wisconsin voters since 1996. Since that time, we’ve seen a decline in local newspapers and local news reporting, a rise in talk radio and social media, as well as a stark rise in the amount of political advertising in our state. The School of Journalism has done a lot of research on the impact of changing information channels and has found that the broader your media diet, the more likely you are to vote outside of party lines. As an example, those who viewed a wide range of information sources were 50% more likely to split-ticket vote in an election (i.e., choose candidates from more than one party on the same ballot). Those who consumed a narrower range of media had nearly no likelihood of splitting a ticket.

The researchers also wanted to compare whether Wisconsinites were move divided on politics from other swing states like North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. The results were true that Wisconsinites’ attitudes around politics and social trust were more divided than other swing states. One researcher felt that those in rural and suburban areas of Wisconsin had long felt neglected and under-represented. Governor Walker’s campaign spoke to those people by denouncing Madison and Milwaukee influences, which could have had an impact in the attitudes of those outside the more metropolitan areas.

Ultimately, Professor Wagner summarized his talk by saying that Wisconsin remains divided due to partisanship, geography and the information we consume. He also made clear that these divides fracture our political and personal relationships in many cases. The good news is that a varied and wide media diet can influence these views and offer opportunities to work across party lines.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Learning Doesn’t Stop Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

submitted by Mary Borland

Jesslyn Hollar   Dr. Jesslyn Hollar is an Edgewood College Professor, and she teaches education courses,  “a teacher educator.”  She is well qualified to talk about engaging kids in learning amidst COVID-19 school closures as she is the mother of a 6-year-old and a 2-year-old.  Her roles of parent and teacher educator are no longer separate but overlapping.

With school closures, our school systems have to consider access. Are basic needs of students being met with food and shelter, do they have educational resources, access to internet, etc.?  At least 800 MMSD students are experiencing homelessness. Nearly half of students qualify for free or reduced lunch; more than 20% are English language learners and more than 14% have a disability.  As a result, ensuring emotional support and navigation during this turbulent time may supersede formal academics at this time. Professor Hollar stated that attending to your own needs as a parent/caregiver during this time also benefits your child. To decrease your child’s anxiety, work to decrease your own.

Where does learning happen? Most learning throughout our lives occurs quite informally. It is our ability to understand how to learn and to transfer and apply that learning to other settings that holds us in good stay, “learning with understanding.” Where you can, encourage active learning with reflection on learning.  Strategies for learning by grade were shared by Professor Hollar, and you can find additional links to resources at the end of her video presentation. She encourages parents/caregivers not to feel shame or guilt during this time about their young learner’s academic trajectory while schools are closed.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

Keep Up the Good Work

submitted by President Andrea Kaminski

Social Distance

Are your hands chapped from so much washing? Do you miss your colleagues? Wish you could hug your grandchildren? Miss seeing your friends at Rotary luncheons?

Yes? Then keep up the good work!

As community leaders, Rotarians need to practice and model assiduous social distancing to the extent that our jobs or family needs allow. In fact, without widely available protective gear, testing and, ultimately, vaccination, physical distancing is the only way to contain the coronavirus threat and minimize infection.

While we look forward to a time when we can safely ease up on the restrictions, there are lessons we can learn from this experience. And I’m not just referring to my enhanced ability to connect with people online!  For example, while I have at times been frustrated by the difficulty of shopping or ordering groceries online, I’ve learned that the brands we normally buy are less important than the actual family meals in our house that bring together our kids and granddaughter.

For life to go back to “normal” we will have to keep social distancing for the foreseeable future. We can’t let our guard down before our first responders and healthcare professionals are adequately equipped to do their essential work. Here are some resources to help get us through these challenging times:



Managing Our Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic

submitted by Carole Trone

FLynn Bradyellow Rotarian Lynn Brady, who is President and CEO of Journey Mental Health Center, shared her insights on “Dealing with Mental Health in the Time of the Coronavirus, a Unique National Emergency!” Brady’s presentation to the club through a virtual meeting platform on Wednesday, April 15, 2020, was an immediate reminder of the significant disruption that all of us are facing in our daily routines. Brady reflected that we are social creatures, and so this required isolation is inevitably going to have an impact. We feel uncertainty about when things will return to normal. In Brady’s work, she says that they are not currently seeing a lot of calls. Rather, people are asking for tips on dealing with stress; how to talk to children about the issue; and how they might reach out in the future to a mental health professional. The mental health professionals that she works with also need a chance to talk through the issues.

Brady walked her audience through the stages of mental stress that the coronavirus has brought, from disruption and worry at a personal level to an increased level of community anxiety about jobs and access to necessities. People at different ages will exhibit signs of stress differently and it’s especially important not to dismiss the distress that older people feel as a normal aspect of aging. Brady provided ideas for how we, as leaders in our community and at work, can provide structure and support to our colleagues and those we supervise. Routines and ongoing opportunities to discuss challenges and to stay in touch are supportive for everyone. Think about the immediate and also the longer term plans of dealing with this crisis. Be sure to thank people who are in the mental health field.

In closing, Brady reminded her audience that Journey Mental Health Center has a crisis line: 608-280-2600, and it is staffed  24/7, 365 days a year.

If you missed our online meeting this week, you can watch the video here.

COVID-19 Efforts

–submitted by President Andrea Kaminski

Many of our members have asked what they can do through Rotary to contribute to COVID-19 relief. We have an opportunity coming up, and that is our club’s fund drive for The Rotary International Foundation, which supports sustainable projects including fighting disease and responding to disasters. You will be receiving a letter in the next week from our Rotary Club office encouraging you to participate.

Of course, this year COVID-19 is having a global impact and is devastating many communities around the world as well as here at home. Grants for COVID-19 relief efforts come from The Rotary International Foundation’s Disaster Response Fund and are helping people in need of food, supplies, shelter and much more.  Our Rotary district has requested support from The Rotary International Foundation for COVID-19 efforts here, and we expect to receive funding for local projects for people in need in the coming months.

In addition, The Rotary International Foundation is now applying the vast infrastructure developed to fight polio to protecting vulnerable people from COVID-19, especially in polio-endemic countries. From Pakistan to Nigeria, the program is drawing on years of experience fighting outbreaks to support governments as they respond to the new virus. Read more about this effort:  https://www.endpolio.org/polio-eradication-staff-support-covid-19-response  

Maybe the best part is that contributing to The Rotary International Foundation stretches your philanthropic dollar. If members of our club contribute a combined total of $50,000 by June 30, 2020, our club will be eligible for $75,000 in district and international matching dollars for future international projects such as our club’s Change HERstory project in Ghana.

I hope you will make a contribution, according to your ability, to The Rotary International Foundation. Your philanthropy will support COVID relief or other worthy projects locally and internationally.

By the way, to be sure our club is credited for your contribution, please make your check payable to The Rotary International Foundation and mail it to our Rotary Club of Madison office, 2 S. Carroll Street, Suite 255, Madison, WI 53703


Is Madison Prepared for the Coronavirus and Its Effects?

submitted by Valerie Renk

Eithun BenRotarians heard online April 8 from Benjamin Eithun how Madison is part of several networks to plan for medical emergencies. Eithun is Director of Pediatric Trauma, Surgery, Injury Prevention and Child Protection at American Family Children’s Hospital.

In 2014, Wisconsin formed seven Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalitions (HERCs), which were based on seven Regional Trauma Advisory Councils.  The councils are made of up EMS, trauma hospitals, public health agencies, government emergency management agencies, businesses and other related partners.

“With the coalitions and the councils, we can better coordinate, communicate and be ready,” Eithun said. “We may be competitors, but we all have the goal to serve patients in need.”

Examples of coordination include sharing where there are needs for more beds, working together to make emergency plans, and coordinating needs in the area, region or statewide.  There are two communications vehicles, EMresources (web based) and WISCOM (VHF Radio) used for urgent sharing of needs.

Eithun has a MSN and a BSN from the University of Pennsylvania and a BS from UW-LaCrosse.  Prior to coming to the UW, he was a pediatric critical care nurse practitioner in the PICU at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch it here.