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Northland Pines celebrates virtual graduation daySubmitted: 05/31/2020

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EAGLE RIVER - "For many of us, this day has been in our calendars or in a countdown as soon as we knew the date," said Northland Pines graduate Jillian Gleason.

Graduation day at Northland Pines happened without crowd, stage or students.

"We have faced challenges that no class has experienced before," Gleason said. "We're facing a world most don't know how to navigate."

But the Class of 2020 did have resolve, and a little bit of humor.

"Good afternoon: family, friends, faculty, and people who said 'well, I guess we have nothing better to do today,'" quipped student speaker Gunnar Schiffmann.


As students opened their web browsers, they saw baby pictures, they sang together and they remembered their triumphs.

"I was fortunate enough and honored to play for Northland Pines high school hockey for the past four years," Schiffmann said. "Going into this senior hockey season, we expected great things from our team. We succeeded."

"Both our boys hockey team and our boys soccer team made it to state," said graduate Danielle Anderson. "I'm confident girls soccer would have made it too."

After all that, they finally heard their own names; a moment of catharsis after months of isolation, and before their resolve is tested once again.

"We will find our way a little easier, push ourselves a little harder, and find new opportunities in an ever-changing world, moreso than those before us," Gleason said.

And not even a pandemic could rob these graduates of their moment.

"Congratulations, Class of 2020," Anderson said. "We did it."

Story By: Andrew Goldstein

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 LOCAL NEWS

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WAUSAU - Public health departments rely on contact tracing to stop coronavirus outbreaks before they happen.

But they can't do it without people to make the calls.

The Marathon County health department is hiring part-time contract workers to perform contact traces.

That involves determining how many people have been exposed to coronavirus by contact with a known positive case.

Those people are then contacted, tested and potentially quarantined.

People who are interested can apply by emailing a resume to jobs@westphalstaffing.com with "Contact Tracer: Referral Marathon County Health Department" in the subject line.

Judy Burrows from the Marathon County health department was very specific in describing what she's looking for from a potential hire.

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LINCOLN CO. - According to a press release from the Lincoln County Sheriff's Department, a boater went missing around 1:30 a.m. on Saturday on Lake Alice in the Town of King, east of Tomahawk.

The dispatch center received a call of a boater who was missing from a capsized canoe on the Lake Alice, the caller told officials that two people had been in a canoe which had capsized.

Dive teams from the Lincoln and Oneida County Sheriff's Departments and Tomahawk Fire located the missing boater at about 8:30 a.m. 

Divers were able to locate and recover the victim from Lake Alice around 8:30 a.m, the victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

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FOREST CO. - Over the last three weeks, Forest Co. went from having zero confirmed COVID-19 cases to now 28.

Health officials state all but one is tied to an outbreak at The Bay at Nu Roc Health and Rehabilitation Center, in Laona.

However, Forest Co. residents connected to employees at Nu Roc say the virus was present a few weeks prior to the county's first case.

Resident Jennifer Connor discovered after speaking to community members that two weeks prior to the county announcing their first confirmed case another employee at NuRoc tested positive in April

Witnesses at NuRoc, who wish to remain anonymous, did confirm that the administration brushed off that employee's COVID like symptoms as another illness and allowed her to continue working in the building until April 24.

That following week the employee tested positive for the coronavirus.

CDC guidelines state "if a healthcare worker develops symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, difficulty breathing), advise them to stay home from work."

Nurses and other staff stated that the employee's significant other tested posted for the virus prior and after speaking with administration they were asked to not share that information with their colleagues.

One stated "Corporate told us that the employer has the coronavirus, but not to say anything to anyone as we need to keep this real quiet. We were told by corporate not to worry."

Following CDC guidelines includes healthcare workers to report when they come in contact to a high or medium-risk exposure. Additionally they ask to exclude them from working for 14 days after the last exposure.

Knowing that information, Connor began to call multiple state agencies to warn of the potential outbreak at Nu Roc.

All nursing homes are required to report data weekly to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and CDC through NHSN according to the CMS and CDC reporting requirements.

After speaking with almost ten state agencies, Connor added in an email to Newswatch 12 that they had no knowledge of the spread and even admitted they had inaccurate data.


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MADISON - Wisconsin health officials have recorded nearly 20 more COVID-19-related deaths since Thursday.

The state Department of Health Services says the number of deaths in the state as of Friday afternoon stood at 568, up 18 from the same time on Thursday.

The total number of cases stood at 17,707, an increase of 733 from Thursday. Nearly 2,500 people have been hospitalized.

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 REGIONAL NEWS

MINNEAPOLIS - The white Minneapolis police officer who pressed his knee into George Floyd's neck as he begged for air was arrested Friday and charged with murder, as authorities imposed overnight curfews to try to stem violent protests over police killings of African Americans that have spread from Minneapolis to cities across the country.

Protesters smashed windows at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, torched a police car and struck officers with bottles. Large demonstrations in New York, Houston, Washington, D.C., and other cities ranged from people peacefully blocking roads to clashing with police.

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MILWAUKEE - A rally organized by the group Community Task Force MKE took place outside the Wisconsin Black Historical Society at 1:00 p.m. today.

Protesters gathered to demand justice for the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Community activist Vaun Mayes took part in leading the rally.

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WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump announced Friday that the United States will cut ties with the World Health Organization.

"China has total control over the World Health Organization despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year," Trump said during a press conference from the White House Rose Garden.

"The world needs answers from China on the virus. We must have transparency. Why is it that China shut off infected people from Wuhan to all other parts of China?" he added. "It didn't go to Beijing, it went nowhere else, but they allowed them to freely travel throughout the world, including Europe and the United States."

Trump has repeatedly criticized the WHO's response to the coronavirus, which has hit the U.S. worse than any other country, amid scrutiny of his own administration's response to the pandemic. He has claimed WHO is "China-centric" and blames the agency for advising against China travel bans early in the outbreak.

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN -
News of the arrest came moments after Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz acknowledged the "abject failure" of the response to the protests and called for swift justice for officers involved. Walz said the state would take over the response to the violence and that it's time to show respect and dignity to those who are suffering.

The former Minneapolis police officer shown on video putting his knee on the neck of George Floyd has been arrested, according to Minnesota Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington.

Derek Chauvin, who was fired on Monday along with three other officers involved in the detainment of Floyd, was taken into custody Friday.

Video showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for at least eight minutes on Monday night. The police department initially said Floyd "physically resisted" the officers and that he died after "suffering medical distress."

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