Weekend Roundup: Duluth girl briefly disqualified for wearing homemade Black Lives Matter swimsuit at swim meet

Madison's Winter Carnival, long COVID, Amazon and more

A black hand is depicted reaching out to sprinkle "magic" powder on the head of a black girl in a mural.
Mural on State St in Madison, WI. Photo by Molly Stentz

At a Feb. 6 swim meet sponsored by the Duluth YMCA in Superior, 12-year-old Leidy Gellona sported a homemade swimsuit with the phrase Black Lives Matter on the front.

She was the only Black competitor, according to her mother, Sarah Lyons.

Meet officials said the statement was political, and therefore did not align with USA Swimming rules.

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“I said it’s not political,” Leidy told NBC. “This is not a political statement. Don’t read it as an organization. Read it as a person saying their life matters.”

Leidy was inspired to make the suit after she and her mom discussed the death of Amir Locke, a Black man fatally shot by Minneapolis police last week.

Lyons is a diversity officer at a college campus; she reached out to local NAACP members and a human rights officer, NBC reports. Once Classie Dudley, the president of Duluth’s NAACP branch, contacted local media, over a dozen people gathered at the meet to support Leidy.

YMCA officials then claimed their reservations weren’t about the message of the quote, but that the swimsuit didn’t match logo standards, according to Lyons and Dudley. But when the YMCA vice president arrived, the matter was quickly resolved.

Dudley, Lyons and Leidy expressed disappointment that coaches and other athletes did nothing to advocate on the girl’s behalf.

“The meet went on. The kids were swimming. And the parents were cheering. There was one person who wasn’t swimming, who was sobbing, and that was the only Black kid there,” Lyons said.

In a YMCA statement, the organization said the official who initially disqualified Leidy was a volunteer and acted “inappropriately.”

“In response to this ruling, Duluth YMCA staff swiftly disputed the claim directly with swimming officials and were in immediate contact with Duluth YMCA Leadership. The Duluth YMCA quickly overruled the decision, removed the official,” the statement said.

Wisconsin DHS: COVID-19 Weekly Recap

The seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin is 2,337 as of Friday. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has confirmed 11,556 total deaths from the disease.

Nearly 59.7 percent of Wisconsinites are fully vaccinated — 82.2 percent of people age 65 and older, 55.5 percent of children age 12 to 17 and 21.3 percent of children 5 to 11 years old.

Vaccines for children under 5 have yet to be approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but the agency has told state and local health officials to get ready, saying they could receive their first shipments of the vaccine by Feb. 21.

An advisory committee of the Federal Drug Administration was to meet on Tuesday, Feb. 15 to discuss Pfizer’s request for Emergency Use Authorization of their vaccine for children 6 months through 4 years of age. However, officials announced Friday that they were postponing the meeting to allow more time to look at additional data.

Green Bay Packers represented in Beijing

Three Olympians with ties to Wisconsin — and cheeseheads to boot — were gifted with personalized Green Bay Packers jerseys by the team, reported the Green Bay Press Gazette.

Paul Schommer, of Appleton; Deedra Irwin of Pulaski; and Clare Egan, of Cape Elizabeth, Maine, showed off their jerseys Wednesday in a Tweet from the U.S. Biathlon team account.

The three teammates competed in the biathlon — a sport that combines cross-country skiing and marksmanship. According to the Press Gazette, Irwin competed in the women’s 15-kilometer individual event where she finished in seventh place, the best Olympic performance by an American biathlete to date.

Disability benefits and long COVID

Between 10 and 30 percent of people infected with COVID-19 end up with long COVID, according to studies cited by Rolling Stone.

As the magazine reports, these are early estimates emerging from academic research “not the kind of population-level data that exists for other conditions, and that people expect to be readily available for long covid. In fact, those statistics are likely still years away.”

The symptoms and health problems of long COVID are still being studied as more people are diagnosed with it.

As of July, long COVID-19 can be considered a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act. But not everyone who is a long-hauler is able to qualify for disability insurance.

Barbara Zabawa, an attorney and clinical assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, breaks down things people need to know before claiming disability benefits.

WUWM’s “Lake Effect” asked Zabawa the following questions:

  • If someone is suffering from long COVID, when and how should they claim it as a disability?
  • What’s important for employers who have vaccine mandates to know in regards to disability law?
  • What’s important for employers who have vaccine mandates to know in regards to disability law?
  • What’s important for employers who have vaccine mandates to know in regards to disability law?

“There are cases where people have successfully sought assistance, even with something that other people couldn’t understand or it was difficult to prove,” Zabawa said.

The owner of Milwaukee airport’s lost teddy bear has been found

The owner of a teddy bear lost at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport has been found.

A reunion is currently in the works, but the airport tweeted Wednesday that it “couldn’t have done this without each of you and all the media who helped to spread the word!”

Internet sleuths revealed that the bear is one given to children who are born with congenital heart defects, making it extra special.

Lady Liberty returns to Madison’s Lake Mendota

A replica of the Statue of Liberty will make her return to Lake Mendota in Madison this weekend as part of the Wisconsin Union’s Winter Carnival.

The carnival has been running for more than 80 years featuring events like a freestyle skiing and snowboarding contest, the Snow Ball gala and an inflatable replica of the Statue of Liberty’s head, arm and torch on frozen Lake Mendota.

Lady Liberty has made her way to the shores of Lake Mendota many times since her first appearance in 1979, when former University of Wisconsin-Madison students Leon Varjian and Jim Mallon were running for student government on a platform of satire. One of their campaign promises was to bring the Statue of Liberty to Wisconsin, and when they won their election, they kept their promise, PBS News Hour reported.

The original statue was crafted of papier-mâché over a wooden structure. The new Lady Liberty is inflatable.

“Even though Wisconsin winters can get chilly, the Wisconsin Union’s Winter Carnival reminds folks that there are still plenty of ways to get involved outside,” Outdoor UW Director Dave Elsmo said in a press release. “It’s inspiring to see how hard Wisconsin Union student leaders and team members work to put on all these great events for campus and community members and visitors to enjoy.”

For more information about the Winter Carnival and a full schedule of events, visit union.wisc.edu/wintercarnival.

Kenosha is the latest in a series of developments by Amazon

Amazon is expanding its Kenosha operations and adding up to 400 jobs. It’s the latest in a series of developments in Wisconsin by the online retailer.

The Kenosha Area Business Alliance says Amazon plans to lease a 1 million-square-foot distribution center and begin operating by early next year.

The distribution center is east of Amazon’s fulfillment center that opened in 2013 along Interstate 94. The company has more than 3,000 employees in Kenosha, the Journal Sentinel reported.

“Amazon has been a wonderful addition to our community and I am pleased to see the new distribution center will add further employment opportunities offering substantial benefits,” said Mayor John Antaramian, in a statement.

The latest development comes after last week’s news that Amazon plans to develop a 3.4 million-square-foot distribution center on 145 acres in Cottage Grove. The $200 million facility project is expected to employ 1,500 people.

The company’s other Wisconsin operations include a 2.5 million-square-foot fulfillment center in Oak Creek, which opened in October 2020 and has 1,500 employees.

Continuing supply chain woes now includes shortages of chocolate milk

The sight of empty supermarket shelves has become an enduing image of the COVID-19 pandemic era. Like the ebb and flow of the illness itself, supplies of various products have sometimes struggled to arrive or stay for long where consumers are used to finding them.

A new report by the Washington Post has found that the continuing supply chain issues brought on by the pandemic means that a familiar and beloved beverage for many, particularly children, is now in short supply in some parts of the country: Chocolate milk.

In one instance in Maine, the story found that the delivery of a “custom-made chocolate powder” used in the production of the chocolate milk has been delayed, leading to the curtailing of the production.

“The story of the disappearing chocolate milk is a microcosm of a much larger struggle. Businesses are grappling with historic transportation delays and shifts in behavior as Americans buy more goods than they did before the pandemic. That has produced abrupt and sometimes baffling shortages affecting anything from baby formula to semiconductors, while also spurring rising prices,” the Post reports.

Editor’s note: The Associated Press contributed to this report.