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As Wisconsin's COVID-19 death toll mounts, personal stories illustrate loss

As Wisconsin's COVID-19 death toll mounts, personal stories illustrate loss

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Kate and Meg holding portrait of their mom

Kate Dale, left, and her sister, Meg Prestigiacomo, hold a picture of their mother, Anne Heine, who died from COVID-19 on her 73rd birthday in July. Heine, who had no underlying health conditions, was one of 68 people in Dane County and nearly 3,000 in Wisconsin lost to the coronavirus.

A father of teenagers, two memorable moms, a doctor, an entrepreneur, a jokester — they are six Madison-area lives lost to COVID-19.

As the State Journal shares their stories, Wisconsin’s coronavirus death toll is accelerating at a record pace. It took nearly five months for the state to reach 1,000 pandemic deaths, in August. The 2,000 mark came less than three months later, on Halloween.

The state is expected to pass 3,000 deaths this week, before Thanksgiving Day. According to a respected University of Washington projection, Wisconsin will top 5,000 deaths by Christmas.

Gov. Tony Evers last week lamented 92 people whose deaths were reported Tuesday, a daily record, calling them “92 people who were somebody’s best friend, mom, dad, grandparent, co-worker or neighbor, brother or sister — somebody who meant a whole lot to somebody else.”

As the coming holidays evoke visions of family and friends, officials advise against gathering with people outside of immediate households. A headline in the Mississippi Free Press said it all: "After Big Thanksgiving Dinners, Plan Small Christmas Funerals, Health Experts Warn."

Kate Dale's mother, who had no underlying health conditions, died from COVID-19 on her 73rd birthday in July.

“So many people are afraid to not spend this holiday with their loved ones," said Dale, of Fitchburg. "Well, we will never spend another holiday with our mother. One year of sacrifice for people is worth it because you don’t want to not have another one with them.”

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