Wisconsin: Questions linger as new research suggests election was linked to rise in coronavirus cases | Daphne Chen and John Diedrich/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Research on the effects Wisconsin’s spring election continues to emerge — and not all of it agrees. A study released Monday by economists at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh and Ball State University suggests that in-person voting may have led to a “large” increase in the rate of positive coronavirus tests weeks later. The report, which has not been peer-reviewed, is at least the third to come out since the April 7 election, and the first to conclude a positive link, giving the public a front-row seat on the messy, uncertain and sometimes lurching progress of science. Epidemiologists and infectious disease experts in Wisconsin previously said the spring election did not lead to a feared spike in COVID-19 cases, though they warned that the effects may be hidden in the data and difficult to ever detect. Investigations involving contact tracing by public health officials were similarly inconclusive. Last week, Milwaukee County epidemiologists said they found 26 county residents who may have been infected with coronavirus during in-person voting. However, they said their attempts to prove the link were complicated by a lack of data and the fact that the election took place around Easter and Passover, which led to more people gathering in general.