As the 2019 novel coronavirus continues to spread across the country and the world, TMJ4 News is tracking how every day life in Wisconsin is changing as schools, businesses, governments, and more react. Bookmark this page for the latest updates on how COVID-19 is affecting daily life.
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As of Thursday, 9,215 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Wisconsin. 374 people have died. 93,035 people have tested negative. Here is the latest county-by-county data:
|Wisconsin County||Positive as of 5/7/2020||Negative as of 5/7/2020||Deaths as of 5/7/2020||Rate (positive cases per 100,000 people) as of 5/7/2020||Case fatality percentage (percent of cases who died) as of 5/7/2020|
|Fond du Lac||84||1,666||3||82.1||4%|
Thursday, May 7
3:41 pm. -- Halsey Summerfest performance rescheduled for 2021 festival
Singer and songwriter Halsey was supposed to take the stage at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater on July 3 during the 2020 Summerfest festival. However, due to COVID-19 Summerfest has been postponed until September.
The Halsey concert, however, has been postponed until next year.
The concert will be on the same date, July 3, however it will be one year later. All tickets that have already been purchased will be 100 percent valid for the new date.
Refunds are also available. If you purchased your ticket at the box office, you will have to wait until they are open again to receive your refund.
2:51 p.m. -- Wisconsin receives $6 million for COVID-19 testing from federal government
Of the 16 health centers that received funding in Wisconsin, five were in Milwaukee, one was in Kenosha, and one was in Sheboygan.
For a full list of where the money went and how much was given to each health center in Wisconsin, click on this link.
Across the nation, nearly $583 million was given to 1,385 health centers in all 50 states and in eight territories.
1:13 p.m. -- Evers concerned about regional reopening plan
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday that he wouldn’t rule out the possibility of reopening some parts of the state less affected by the coronavirus sooner than others, even though he worries about that approach leading to an outbreak.
Republican legislative leaders have been pushing for a regionalized reopening plan.
Rural parts of Wisconsin have seen far fewer cases of COVID-19 than more urban areas. Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, has seen the greatest number of deaths and positive cases.
Regionalization was one idea Evers discussed with Republican leaders on Monday.
“We didn’t come to any conclusions,” Evers said on WTMJ radio. He expressed concern about COVID-19 cases in rural areas being under counted because of a lack of testing.
Bringing more people to those areas, particularly those that rely on tourism over the summer months, could lead to a spike in cases, he said.
“I never say never in this situation,” Evers said of regionalization. “There may be cases where we do it. I think we can do a lot of things, reopening, that are statewide and impact all counties at the same time.”
The Wisconsin Supreme Court is currently weighing a Republican-brought lawsuit that seeks to block the current “safer at home” order due to expire May 26 and take authority away from Evers’ administration to issue similar such orders going forward.
Evers said he hoped to not have to extend that order, which was originally slated to end on April 24, but the future of his powers now rests with the conservative-controlled court.
11:26 a.m. -- Wisconsin unemployment fund could be depleted by October
The state Department of Workforce Development released that worst-case scenario Thursday.
Two other projections, which assume fewer unemployment payments, show the fund being depleted in January or September 2021.
Department spokesman Ben Jedd says if the state runs out of money, it could borrow from the federal government so the unemployed still receive benefit checks. That is what happened during the recession more than a decade ago.
10:36 a.m. -- Froedtert enrolls first patient in Remdesivir trial to treat COVID-19
Froedtert has enrolled its first patient in a new breakthrough trial of an antiviral drug to fight the coronavirus.
Remdesivir has been praised by top health officials as a way to treat COVID-19 patients, including from Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci.
"What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus," Dr. Fauci said in late April. "The data shows that Remdesivir has a clear-cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery."
Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa is a part of a program with Gilead Sciences, the drug's manufacturer.
On Thursday, a hospital spokesperson said it has enrolled its first patient into the program.
The hospital will only be able to provide the drug to 10 patients who are on ventilators and have a certain level of kidney and liver function.
Wednesday, May 6
10:00 p.m. -- Officials encourage symptomatic patients to be tested for COVID-19 as lab capacity expands
In the past it was only the sickest of patients that were eligible for a test, but now testing has ramped up across the state and many places have more tests than potential patients.
The state Department of Health Services website says Wisconsin now has the lab capacity of 14,797 tests a day at 51 labs. But the total tests reported Wednesday was just 4,194, a fraction of the capacity.
Milwaukee County Health Director Dr. Ben Weston says he doesn't believe there is a lack of patients out there, but that messaging needs to change.
“The messaging that’s been hammered into people for weeks and weeks, to stay home, drink soup, hydrate you’ll be fine has changed. That’s because nationally there has been an increase in testing capacity” said Weston.
At the Sixteenth Street Clinic, one of Milwaukee County’s 5 community testing facilities, the same is true. Dr. Jorge Ramallo says they have the capacity to test more people than who’s coming through the door. He urges anyone with symptoms to get themselves tested.
“Not only to get a diagnosis for themselves, but also… to help them prevent the spread of the infection if they truly are positive” says Ramallo.
The city, county and clinics are all busy working on getting the word out about the facilities and testing available. This comes as the state says additional testing sites will be coming in the days to come. Milwaukee County says its working on a website to direct residents to places where they can get a test.
Nearly 100,000 people have been tested in Wisconsin.
8:36 p.m. -- Small businesses taking insurance companies to court over interruption coverage
Small businesses have been struggling to collect on claims against specific policies called business interruption insurance, as insurance companies claim the COVID-19 pandemic is not included in their coverage.
TMJ4 News spoke with a pair of attorneys who say they've taken on hundreds of clients frustrated after paying thousands to insurance companies. Clients like Caitlin Cullen, the owner and chef of the Tandem Restaurant.
"It's just is a frustrating time to be a business owner, especially in a high loss business like a restaurant," Cullen said.
She was forced to stop normal operations at her restaurant during the pandemic like many other small business owners. Now, she's offering free meals to anyone who needs them, but there's no free lunches for owners like her.
Cullen said her insurance agents were very helpful in filing a business interruption insurance claim, but the company denied it.
"Spent three and a half years it's been dozens of thousands of dollars and it's just, it doesn't make any sense that there's no money there," Cullen said.
Read the full story here.
7:14 p.m. -- Democrats and Republicans at odds about how to restart economy
Both democrat and republican leaders agree that a phased process is needed to restart the economy, but they’re at odds about when and where to start. Democrats prefer a statewide approach whereas republicans want to take a regional path.
Senate Minority Leader and Bayfield County Democrat Janet Bewley hopes the state’s highest court upholds the order, but she’s well aware it could go either way.
“I think there’s a lot of merit to the fact that Andrea Palm was acting in the best interest of the state and that typically, that sort of thing is an executive branch decision,” Sen. Bewley said.
During a contentious Wisconsin Supreme Court hearing Tuesday, the legislature made their case as to why they allege Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services and Secretary Designee Andrea Palm abused the agency’s powers by forcing non-essential businesses to close and ordering people to stay home. Sen. Bewley stands by Governor Evers’ Badger Bounce Back plan which allows every municipality across the state to be on the same page.
“I think if we do it statewide and gradually, so for example, you have a certain number of customers or you have a certain level of service, I think that that’s going to be far more easy to deal with and it will feel far,” Sen. Bewley said.
Read the full story here.
4:30 p.m. -- Beaver Dam's Richelieu Foods to close for the rest of the week, test all employees for COVID-19
After eight confirmed cases at the facility, Richelieu Foods will shut down their plant and test all 420 employees for the coronavirus.
The Wisconsin National Guard is assisting the company in testing employees, who will all be paid for a full 40 hour work week.
“The health and safety of our employees, their families, and our customers has always been our top priority,” said Richelieu Chief Executive Officer Ric Alvarez. "We believe that testing supported by the Wisconsin National Guard is an important next step to quickly identify any unknown cases, treat those employees, and isolate them to prevent further spread.”
Prior to the outbreak, Richelieu implemented additional sanitation procedures including social distancing, and all employees were required to wash their hands before entering the plant. Now, with the closure and outbreak, there will be additional cleaning and sanitation by an external vendor.
“We are continuing our existing safety protocols, while also taking several other steps to control the spread of COVID-19,” said Alvarez.
3:22 p.m. -- UW-Madison commencement ceremony to take place Saturday
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, UW-Madison announced they would be hosting a virtual ceremony in order to protect the safety of their staff, students, and families.
This virtual ceremony will not be live but will be available here beginning at noon central time on Saturday. This video will remain on the website so that students and families can watch it at any time convenient to them.
The university is also planning to host an in-person celebration for the students once it is safe to do so.
"The Class of 2020 has been resilient and adaptable, finishing their schooling in the midst of a global pandemic. I hope they will celebrate their accomplishments," says Chancellor Rebecca Blank. "Their diplomas from this great public institution tell the world they are ready and able to help build a future that will prevent such tragedies."
According to a press release from the school, 8,460 degrees will be conferred during the ceremony. There are 6,241 undergraduate, 1,352 masters and 867 doctoral degrees.
The ceremony will include speeches from the university chancellor, senior president, senior vice president, and keynote speaker James Patterson.
1:16 p.m. -- Bad budget news for Wisconsin as pressure mounts to reopen
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — New budget figures for Wisconsin show an $870 million drop off in tax collections last month, the latest stark sign of how much the coronavirus pandemic is hurting the state’s economy.
The bleak but expected budget figures delivered to state lawmakers Wednesday come as pressure continues to build on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to reopen business in the state faster and loosen his “safer at home” order that runs until May 26.
Former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Hovde joined the conservative chorus against Evers, launching a statewide television ad Wednesday arguing for the immediate reopening the state.
1:01 p.m. -- No spike, but no certainty on fallout of Wisconsin election
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s presidential primary election held last month in the face of the coronavirus pandemic drew concern from doctors, voters, poll workers and politicians.
Now far beyond the 14-day incubation period for COVID-19 it remains largely unknown just how many people contracted the virus at the polls.
Public health experts say a lack of testing, not enough contact tracing, difficulty in pinpointing where a person got infected and the fact that some people are infected but have no symptoms and therefore don’t get tested, all make it nearly impossible to quantify the impact COVID-19 during the election.
9:59 a.m. -- We Energies warns customers of scams during pandemic
We Energies warned customers of scammers still targeting them during the pandemic. A scam circulating through Milwaukee and Appleton tells customers that their energy will be shut off unless they paid in prepaid debit cards or through services such as PayPal or Venmo. The company reminded customers that they are not shutting off services during the pandemic.
Tuesday, May 5
8:26 p.m. -- Cargill Meat Solutions in Milwaukee to close for COVID-19 testing.
Cargill Meat Solutions in Milwaukee is set to close at 1 p.m. May 6th to test employees for coronavirus, the company said Tuesday. Employees will continue to be paid during their time off.
5:33 p.m. -- Great Wolf Lodge to give 10,000 complimentary hotel stays to nurses
May is Nurses Month and it couldn't have come at a better time with the current COVID-19 pandemic.
The Great Wolf Lodge is giving guests a way to say thank you to registered nurses and their families. For every room booked from May 4-12 with the code THANKYOU, the resort will donate a free overnight stay to a registered nurse.
“We are immensely grateful to our nurses and health care heroes who are going above and beyond to save lives on the frontline while spending months apart from their families and friends,” said Murray Hennessy, chief executive officer for Great Wolf Resorts. “While no words or acts can fully show how thankful we are, we are pleased to provide these nurses with an opportunity to enjoy some special moments at Great Wolf Lodge with their loved ones when this has subsided.”
Great Wolf Lodge has teamed up with the American Nurses Association to give away up to 10,000 overnight stays. Nurses can begin booking their rooms June 1st at any of the 17 resort locations for stays August 1 through Dec. 17.
A select number of complimentary stays per day, per resort will be set aside to ensure that all nurses across the U.S. are able to claim their stay.
Further, the code THANKYOU also gives guests a discount of up to 50% off standard room rates from July 6 through Oct. 29.
For more information, visit Great Wolf Lodge's website.
2:20 p.m. -- DHS adds hospital metrics to criteria used to determine when Wisconsin can reopen
The Badger Bounce Back Program, released by Gov. Tony Evers in April, details phases in which the state can start to reopen, if it has met certain criteria.
DHS's website on the Badger Bounce Back Plan lists the gating criteria used to determine the phases. On Tuesday, DHS announced that hospital metrics would now be a part of the plan. The criteria was developed with input from the Wisconsin Hospital Association and the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative.
All of the metrics include:
- A downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported within a 14-day period (Indicator: Symptoms)
- A downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period (Indicator: Symptoms)
- A downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (Indicator: Cases)
- 95% of hospitals affirm that they can treat all patients without crisis care (Indicator: Hospitals)
- 95% of all hospitals affirm that they have arranged for testing for all symptomatic clinical staff treating patients at the hospital per CDC guidelines (Indicator: Hospitals)
- A downward trend of COVID-19 cases among health care workers calculated weekly (Indicator: Health care)
Each metric is given a status of met, not met, or data is still being collected.
The hospital gating criteria addresses both patient care and hospital staff health, the Department of Health Services said.
As of Tuesday, May 5, two metrics had met the criteria set: Downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses reported within a 14-day period and a downward trend of COVID-19 cases among health care workers.
DHS said that the current Safer at Home order that is in place is working. Wisconsin has seen a decrease in "exponential growth in the number of cases" since the order was put into effect on March 25.
To learn more about the criteria, click here.
1:01 p.m -- Wisconsin Supreme Court hears arguments on Safer at Home in contentious two-hour hearing
The hearing lasted about two hours and it was very contentious on both sides the entire time. The case was presented via video conference due to coronavirus concerns.
Republicans in the state legislature are suing Wisconsin’s Department of Heath Services alleging an abuse of power. GOP legislators are asking the state’s highest court to respond to two questions:
Whether DHS violated state law by extending the stay-at-home order past Memorial Day without approval from the legislature.
Secondly, if DHS did not violate that law, did it overstep its authority by forcing non-essential businesses to close and ordering people to stay home?
Under Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency declaration, DHS was designated as the lead agency in response to the pandemic.
Both sides had about 45 minutes to make their case, starting with the legislature.
The state Supreme Court is expected to make a quick decision. Justices will meet in closed session at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.
11:21 a.m. -- JBS plans to reopen Green Bay facility Tuesday
GREEN BAY (NBC 26) -- JBS plans to reopen its Green Bay facility on Tuesday.
The beef production facility was closed late last month after health officials identified a cluster of coronavirus cases at the plant.
A representative with the company said the plan is to reopen harvest operations with reduced staff Tuesday, and harvest and fabricate on Wednesday.
"We expect operations to normalize over time as absenteeism rates decline in response to the preventive measures in place at the facility and as team members clear any necessary quarantine protocols," stated Cameron Bruett, the company's head of corporate affairs.
All employees will be tested before returning to work, the company says.
9:31 a.m. -- Wisconsin DMV waives road test requirement for new drivers due to coronavirus pandemic
Those who have completed other training and education requirements will no longer have to participate in the time-honored road test.
"Teens who have completed required driver training may have their road tests waived," Wisconsin DOT Secretary-designee Craig Thompson said in a briefing. The new pilot program begins on May 11.
Those eligible to have their test waived will still have to take the required amount of driver education classes, complete behind-the-wheel training, and have permission from a parent or guardian, Thompson said. The state's graduated driver laws (GDL) will remain in place.
"Due to the requirements of obtaining a license, we are confident this provision will not compromise safety," Thompson said.
98 percent of drivers under 18 past their road test on their first or second attempt in Wisconsin, he added.
If a parent or guardian thinks their student still needs a road test, they will still be able to schedule one.
8:47 a.m. -- Bay View restaurant owner installs partitions between tables in anticipation of reopening
Chef Adam Pawlak is the owner of Egg & Flour Pasta Bar. Our partners at the Milwaukee Business Journal chatted with him about his idea for plastic partitions between tables and other safety and health precautions.
Pawlak opened the Bay View location of Egg & Flour Pasta Bar just one week before the state of Wisconsin required all dining rooms to close. Since then, he has been brainstorming ways to get back up and running.
Tony Goff, of Goff's Enterprises Inc., created the plastic partitions that Pawlak is installing in between dining tables, as well as in between customers and food prep.
Pawlak also plans on marking spaces on the floor for customers to wait, giving out to-go cutlery for in house use and removing stools at the bar for social distancing purposes.
Pawlak is patiently awaiting the day he can reopen the Bay View restaurant location while still focusing on the original Egg & Flour Pasta Bar location in the Crossroads Collective food hall on Milwaukee's east side.
Gov. Evers Badger Bounce Back plan says restaurants can begin to open in the first phase after the Safer at Home order is lifted.
7:05 a.m. -- Locust Street Festival, Riverwest Beer Run canceled amid pandemic
The festival, known as one of Milwaukee's most popular, diverse and longest running, was set to take place on June 14. This would have been the 44th year.
The Riverwest Beer Run is typically the kickoff of the day-long street festival.
"With too many still unknowns about the COVID-19 virus, the Festival committee made the decision that it's best to cancel this year's festival than to risk the health and safety of its attendees, artisans, staff and organizers," said the committee in a press release.
This the first time the Locust Street Festival of Music & Art has been canceled, but mark your calendars for June 13, 2021 for its return.
Monday, May 4
4:56 p.m. -- All Wisconsin nursing home residents to get COVID-19 test
Evers announced the increased testing Monday ahead of his first meeting with Republican and Democratic legislative leaders to discuss the next steps in response to the pandemic as pressure builds to more rapidly reopen the state’s economy.
Evers’ late-afternoon meeting with lawmakers comes the day before the Wisconsin Supreme Court was scheduled to hear oral arguments in a case brought by the Republican legislative leaders seeking to block Evers’ “safer at home” order that is slated to run until May 26.
4:01 p.m. -- Gov. Evers announces plans to significantly increase COVID-19 testing throughout the state
Gov. Tony Evers announced plans to make Wisconsin one of the top states in coronavirus testing per capita on Monday, a move that he hopes will significantly combat the spread of the disease throughout the state.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services plans to provide nearly 85,000 COVID-19 tests per week to hospitals, clinics, local public health, and long term care facilities, the governor's office said. Health officials have already provided over 60,000 tests to local healthcare facilities statewide, according to the release.
“We’ve made great progress in expanding our testing capacity these last few weeks, and now we’re taking the next step to ensure our tests performed match our capacity,” said Gov. Evers.
Fifty-seven of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have already requested testing supplies from this newly announced program.
“Everyone in the state that needs a test should be tested, and through the Badger Bounce Back Plan, we’re taking a comprehensive approach to make sure that’s the case,” said Gov. Evers.
For information on the coronavirus outbreak in the State of Wisconsin, click here.
2:15 p.m. -- Dave Matthews Band reschedules summer tour; will play Summerfest in 2021
The popular rock act will now play the American Family Insurance Amphitheater on July 1, 2021.
Previously purchased tickets will be honored for the rescheduled performance.
"We are disappointed to announce, that in light of the global COVID-19 pandemic, we will be moving all of our 2020 summer dates to the summer of 2021. We make this decision with the health, safety, and well-being of our fans, touring crew, and venue staff as our priority," the band said in a news release.
Refunds will be available from the original point of purchase for 30 days.
11:05 a.m. -- Evers and GOP legislative leaders to discuss virus plan
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers is scheduled to meet Republican and Democratic legislative leaders to discuss next steps in Wisconsin’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
The meeting late Monday afternoon comes the day before the Wisconsin Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments in a case brought by the Republican legislative leaders seeking to block Evers’ “safer at home” order, which is slated to run until May 26.
Evers and Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald expressed a willingness on Friday to meet. Republicans have been increasingly critical of Evers’ approach to the COVID-19 crisis.
9:40 a.m. -- Sixth nun dies of COVID-19 at Greenfield convent
A sixth nun has died from coronavirus complications at suburban Milwaukee convent. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office says 94-year-old Sister Jospehine Seier died Friday.
She had been with the School Sisters of St. Francis for 79 years and served most recently at Our Lady of the Angels convent in Greenfield.
Last month complications of the virus killed 95-year-old Sister Mary Regine Collins and 83-year-old Sister Marie June Skender. Both spent many years of their lives teaching in Catholic schools throughout Wisconsin and the Midwest.
Sister Mary Francele Sherburne, 99, who spent several decades as a professor at Mount Mary University, also died last month.
COVID-19 complications also took the life of Sister Annelda Holtcamp, 102, who spent 33 years at St. Joseph’s High School Convent in Kenosha.
Sister Bernadette Kelter, 88, died on April 26. She taught at several Archdiocese of Milwaukee schools, TMJ4 reported.
The convent specializes in memory care for as many as 50 retired nuns from the School Sisters of St. Francis and the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
Sunday, May 3
1:54 p.m. -- Wisconsin receives PPE from sister state in China
Wisconsin has received 10,000 procedural masks and 1,000 medical outfits from our sister state in China.
“Our sister state of Heilongjiang, along with several state agencies and Wisconsin higher education and nonprofit institutions, all worked together to bring these supplies here and support our frontline COVID-19 responders in a time of need," said Governor Tony Evers.
Since 1982, Wisconsin has had a sister state relationship with Heilongjiang Province, located in northeast China.
According to a press release from Governor Evers, when Carolyn Brady, International Partnership and Outreach Programs Coordinator for UW-River Falls, heard about our need for PPE, she reached out to the Foreign Affairs Office in Harbin to see if Heilongjiang had any masks available.
That outreach lead to Governor Wang Xiankui of Heilongjiang sending over 10K masks and 1K medical outfits.
“Competition for COVID-19 supplies is intense. That is why we are committed to pursuing every avenue – state, national and international – to obtain the resources necessary for our response,” Gov. Evers said.
Heilongjiang Province is just one of many PPE donors. The state has also acquired masks and other medical equipment from organizations such as Wisconsin Dental Association, WEC Energy Group, Kohler, Snap-On Tools, Northern States Power Co., ND Paper, the Wisconsin Humane Society, and Foxconn.
“I want to thank all of our donors who have answered the call to support our front lines in the fight against COVID-19. Donations like these provide our responders with the equipment they need to help keep our communities safe and healthy," said the governor.
1:34 p.m. -- Gov. Tony Evers announces additional coronavirus testing events
On Sunday, Gov. Tony Evers announced several new COVID-19 testing events happening this week.
The events take place in northwest Wisconsin through May 14. Each site is open to anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
These events and sites are a part of a plan to track the virus within our communities and get our economy back.
The governor is expected to announce even more testing events and sites within the coming days.
Part of the Badger Bounce Back Program is to be able to test everyone who is showing symptoms. These sites are a part of that plan.
If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, you are urged to contact your health care provider and get tested at one of the testing sites.
To see a full list of symptons and the testing sites, read our full story here.
Friday, May 1
10:50 p.m. -- Wisconsin COVID-19 numbers trend up, DHS cites more testing and facility investigations
The Department of Health services reports for the day 3,172 people tested negative and positive cases hit a new high of 460.
State officials have said there needs to be a 14-day downward trajectory of coronavirus case numbers as a percentage of total tests before lifting the Safer at Home order and beginning to reopen.
DHS says the increase is tied to increased testing and ongoing facility investigations.
"That's a trend that we need to watch," said Dr. John Raymond, President of the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Dr. Raymond spoke about the increase during a scheduled briefing Friday.
"I attribute those primarily to our increased testing capacity and perhaps the increased surveillance and vigilance in institutional settings," said Dr. Raymond.
There are currently 187 facility-wide public health investigations underway at facilities across Wisconsin, that includes settings like nursing homes and workplaces. The state's southeastern region has the bulk of them with 113.
However, the state's published data does not specify the locations where investigations are taking place.
10:01 p.m. -- Racine Zoo facing dire financial straits, hopes "Giving Tuesday Now" brings help
The non-profit has to run at full staff because, except for missing visitors and events, the animals still need all the same care, despite a pandemic.
"Just because the zoo is closed doesn't mean they don't need to get fed, their exhibit don't need to be cleaned, they don't need enrichment, the vet doesn't show up. All of that still happens," said Beth Heidorn, executive director of the Racine Zoo.
Life continues to march on at the Racine Zoo. Just last week, the zoo welcomed two new monkeys.
"Mother Nature always finds a way, we were so fortunate to have twin baby tamarins born here on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day," said Heidorn.
But the zoo is facing serious financial struggles. School field trips and spring break visitors account for a significant chunk of revenue at the non-profit. Since it shut down on March 14th through April 29th, the zoo lost $180,000. In May, it will lose another $150,000. The losses total $330,000.
8:16 p.m. -- Online campaign pushes shoppers to support small minority-owned businesses during COVID-19
#SupportBLKBusinessDuringCOVID kicked off Friday and goes through May. It was put together by The IMPACT Movement, a ministry-based nonprofit that works to aid communities of color.
"We've been trying to figure out what we can do to be a part of serving our community during this time," said Kesha Wilkinson of IMPACT Wisconsin.
Ultimately, they came up with the hashtag— #SupportBLKBusinessDuringCOVID.
People can join in on the campaign using the hashtag and detailing which businesses they went to while sharing with three friends.
7:05 p.m. -- 85 workers test positive for COVID-19 at Cudahy's Smithfield plant, health department says
The Cudahy Health Department says they have learned among the approximately 1,000 employees who work at this location, a total 85 have tested positive to date.
The Cudahy Health Department says between April 24-28, testing for COVID-19 was provided for more than 500 Smithfield employees at the Smithfield meat-processing facility. Health workers say there were 22 new positive COVID-19 diagnoses among employees, and 31 test results are pending.
On April 15, Smithfield announced a temporary and voluntary closure the Cudahy facility.
Free COVID-19 testing is being offered to all employees at the facility.
Patrick Cudahy Smithfield will reopen on Monday, May 4th, according to a company spokesperson.
6:15 p.m. -- Children's Wisconsin has a message for parents regarding emergency room visits
"There was a case where a child had a burn injury, and that child was not brought into the emergency room for a couple of days," said Dr. David Margolis, a specialist in Pediatrics at Children's Wisconsin.
Dr. Margolis wants everyone to know that the message has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic first began in March. He says there's more understanding of the virus now, and how to work around it.
"Early on, there was a lot of messaging to stay home," Dr. Margolis said. "We did not want to overload emergency rooms or doctor's offices. But it's time to safely start getting more medical care, besides what we were doing earlier, which was only emergencies. We're able to provide safer care now. Please don't hesitate to call your doctor."
Dr. Margolis also wants to make sure preventative care and check-ups aren't ignored. With so much focus on a COVID-19 vaccine, he says there's new evidence showing not as many children are getting their regular vaccinations right now.
"We don't want to have this unintended consequence of, God forbid, a measles epidemic, or a resurgence of things like polio or pertussis," he said.
5:35 p.m. -- Wisconsin DWD blames 'technological malfunction' for double paying of unemployment benefits
DWD says it's been fixed, but for a few hours, more than 2,300 people with US Bank accounts saw the money appear, then disappear.
"Roughly around three o'clock, I was standing in Walmart waiting to pick something up, and I looked at my account, and it was negative 1,233 dollars," said Jennifer Schulze. "And I started to panic."
Schulze is a caregiver in Port Washington, but coronavirus concerns have dramatically cut her hours. She's been receiving unemployment benefits and taking care of her three young daughters.
On Thursday, Schulze received Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), an additional $600 payment per week DWD began on Wednesday. Schulze got four retroactive payments and started to pay bills and run errands. Then the money suddenly disappeared.
DWD says a technological malfunction sent out double the FPUC payments to 39,181 bank accounts on Wednesday night. They were able to correct the mistake before anyone noticed, except for 2,340 people with US Bank accounts--including Schulze.
4:40 p.m. -- Wisconsin Supreme Court to hear arguments Tuesday over Gov. Evers' 'Safer at Home' order
Republican legislators filed the lawsuit directly with the high court last month after state Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm extended the order to May 26.
The lawmakers say Palm lacked the authority to extend the order and asked the court to issue a temporary injunction blocking it.
The court ruled 6-1 on Friday afternoon to hold oral arguments on Tuesday morning.
3:46 p.m. -- Sixth nun dies of COVID-19 complications at Greenfield convent
Sister Josephine Seier, a member of the School Sisters of St. Francis, died Friday. She was 94 years old.
Four other nuns at the same convent have also died from complications related to COVID-19. Sister Mary Regine Collins died on April 6, Sister Marie June Skender died on April 7, Sister Mary Francele Sherburne died on April 9, Sister Annelda Holtkamp died on April 19, and Sister Bernadette Kelter died on April 26.
1:46 p.m. -- Racine County Sheriff reports zero cases of COVID-19
As of May 1, there are zero cases of coronavirus among the inmates or sheriff's department staff members in Racine County.
Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling reported this news Friday in a pres release.
Racine Count has the third largest jail population within the state. It is for that reason that Schmaling and his department established safety precautions early on.
According to the press release, these precautions were introduced in early March and are "intended to keep first responders, frontline staff, inmates, and the community safe from the spread of COVID-19."
Some of these precautions include sanitizing jail cells and common areas several times a day, reducing the number of inmates, and doing temperature checks of staff, new inmates, and visitors. Additionally, new inmates went through a 14 day quarantine prior to being place in general population.
The Sheriff's department also got a grant for a UV sanitation device that has been used in the jail, the Racine County Board Room, and Racine County Circuit Courts.
11:42 a.m. -- Cedarburg Strawberry Festival canceled due to COVID-19
The 2020 Cedarburg Strawberry Festival has been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The festival, which was scheduled for June 27 and 28, is one of the largest two-day events in Ozaukee County and has large economic impact on Historic Downtown Cedarburg.
“This was a difficult decision to make as our Board of Directors considered all the options put before them,” said Gordon Goggin, Festival President. The Board unanimously decided cancellation was the only responsible decision to make to ensure the safety of our community, attendees and participants.”
The board is now looking at other options to replace the festival and will provide updates as decisions are made.
According to a press release from the Board of Directions, "the Board of Directors and Festivals staff extends gratitude to all who help make Strawberry Festival successful: steadfast attendees, sponsors, participants, partners and especially volunteers."
8:49 a.m. -- EAA cancels convention that draws hundreds of thousands
OSHKOSH, Wis. (AP) — An event that draws hundreds of thousands of people from all around the globe is the latest event to be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Organizers of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual fly-in and convention say the uncertainty of COVID-19 has forced them to cancel the July 20-26 event.
Approximately 642,000 people attended the convention last year when more than 10,000 aircraft arrived at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh and other airports in east-central Wisconsin.
EAA CEO Jack Pelton says that since Wisconsin is still under a stay-at-home order, it eliminates organizers’ ability to start grounds preparation, which they would begin Friday.
Thursday, April 30
10:36 p.m. -- Limited testing underway at Slinger Super Speedway as racing and local tracks prepare to return soon
"Excited. Finally, get back on the track. You know, we were supposed to start racing three weeks ago, with everything going on? We're kind of at a standstill," Matt Klenz says.
TMJ4 Main Sports Anchor Lance Allan says under orders of less than ten people gathered, limited testing has been underway for the past two weeks, at the Slinger Super Speedway.
"Just getting out there. You know, people seeing us practice at the track, you know I mean gives us and everybody a little hope. Getting back on the track is just a big deal. I'd like to thank some of the people that, you know my sponsors and stuff like that. Uptown Motorcars, which I actually work for. And then Albiero Plumbing in West Bend and a couple small places like Kewaskum Concrete and Schlufty's Bar, you know they're suffering from some of this stuff too," Klenz says.
And Klenz needs it. The first time in this car, the first test. With a slippery track. All hope the tentative May 17th opener can still happen at the Slinger Super Speedway.
"Oh yeah, it's definitely time. We're in the open air. I mean we got, you know, feet and feet of people, you know between people and the race cars and you know, it's an outdoor hobby. It's one thing to practice but to get out there with all the other drivers? That's where it really counts," Klenz says.
8:56 p.m. -- Burlington father and Illinois sheriff's deputy battling COVID-19 and leukemia
Rich O'Brien has now been on a ventilator for 22 days.
Rich's family calls him their superman.
"He's a really strong guy, but he's a quiet guy," said his wife, Cindi O'Brien.
"He is strong. He's also a giant goofball. He has the weirdest style," said his daughter Amy O'Brien.
Rich lives in Burlington, and for 25 years, he has been driving to the Chicago-area to work as a deputy for the Cook County Sheriff's Office. Around Thanksgiving, the 53-year-old started feeling sick. Not long after that, he was diagnosed with leukemia. But his family said his prognosis good.
"He's like, 'It's really not bad. It's stage one. I just have to see the doctor twice a month and then it will be done. And I will be here 20 more years to bug you and to bother you,'" said Amy O'Brien.
7:41 p.m. -- Cases top 1,000 in Brown County, Resch Center to open as testing site
There are now 1,049 cases within the county; Oneida Nation is reporting one more case bringing their total to eight. Health officials say the increase in cases is expected, as they continue to increase their testing capacity.
Thursday, the health department also announced the Resch Center is opening up as a testing site. This drive-in-site will be for employees of any long-term care facility, group housing, healthcare facility and non-health care related facilities. To be tested, the individual needs a note from their doctor.
There are now 142 people out of isolation, that's two more people than Wednesday. Forty people are hospitalized and the county remains at three deaths.
With the warmer weather expected this weekend, county officials also continue to urge people to social distance. They recommend along with CDC guidelines, even if you're taking a walk outside, to wear a mask. Claire Paprocki with the county health department added it's natural for everyone to feel stress, worry, and anger right now. They recommend learning to deal with the difficulties in healthy ways; they have tips on stayhealthybc.com.
6:43 p.m. -- Who is eligible for unemployment? Experts weigh in
The DWD answered questions last week during a Facebook Live, and this week, TMJ4 News got more questions answered.
One looming question this week was around eligibility.
"Employees are eligible if they are essentially unable to work through no fault of their own," Samantha Huddleston, a local attorney, said. "Meaning, if you were terminated without cause because there is no work left for you to do."
While this is true for most cases, this is not a one-size-fits-all approach.
One viewer asked, as an independent contractor, can they file for unemployment?
"Traditionally, no," Huddleston said. "Now, because of what's called the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program (PUA), you can. The whole point of this being, we're trying to help as many people as possible, and the government is trying to do that."
Huddleston says there is a separate section of the DWD website to file for the PUA program, and this could apply for an independent contractor, those who are self-employed or if you have a limited work history.
Another question was about eligibility if you're working full time but have had your wages cut.
"There is not an eligibility for unemployment to cover that gap in pay," Huddleston said. "Employers do have the right, in terms of keeping employees working and trying to make payroll, some have to cut their rate of pay, let's say where an employee was making $15 per hour, and now, maybe they're making $12 per hour. Because you are still working and your employer is still paying you, you are making those wages, and you are not considered unemployed."
5:54 p.m. -- City of Hartford businesses allowed to reopen, despite 'Safer at Home' order
Some businesses deemed nonessential are open, while others remain closed.
Ronda Hattori owns the Main Street Yarn Shop. After being closed for about a month, she opened up her storefront Tuesday, welcoming customers to come inside and shop.
"For small businesses, in general, it's been very tough. We're not a high-volume store. Especially my store," Hattori said. I sell yarn in Hartford, Wisconsin."
Police officers in Hartford are allowed to use their discretion when enforcing the state's Safer at Home order. The Common Council voted unanimously, 9-0, to approve a plan to reopen the city's economy slowly.
"What we're saying is we're giving you the ability to measure how your clients and employees are going to react," said Mayor Tim Michalak.
That was enough for some businesses to open. However, Wayne's Barbershop up the road is staying closed in fear of losing its state license.
"We are telling individuals. You're in violation of state order. We are not condoning it. We are not suggesting you do it," Michalak said.
Michalak said he believes this approach fits Hartford best.
3:56 p.m. -- Lose your job during the coronavirus pandemic? Here are some resources to help
Hundreds of thousands of workers are unemployed during the COVID-19 pandemic, and many have yet to receive unemployment insurance.
Employ Milwaukee is running a virtual job readiness program next week to help those who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program is free to join.Interested individuals should call Jovo Potkonjak at 414-270-7529 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
While physical locations are closed, some job centers are still operating through the pandemic. Here's how to reach them.
Job Center Central: Call 414-874-0318 for Job Service staff assistance regarding unemployment and other services.
Milwaukee Southeast Job Center (UMOS): Call: 414-389-6607 for Job Service staff assistance regarding unemployment and WIOA services.
Employ Milwaukee has a number of other resources on its webpage, click here for more.
If you're struggling to make ends meet while you're out of a job, Community Advocates has set up a specific hot line for people who cannot pay their rent during the pandemic. That number is 414-270-4646.
They also run an energy assistance program if you fall behind on your bills. You can reach that program by calling 414-270-4653.
2:06 p.m. -- Wisconsin businesses urge legislators to OK reopening plan
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin's chamber of commerce is urging legislators to adopt its business reopening plan. Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce Executive Vice President Scott Manley says Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order is crushing the economy and that the coronavirus appears under control in the state.
Manley addressed the Assembly's Republican-controlled state affairs committee during a video conference Thursday. WMC's plan would allow all businesses to reopen but assign them risk factors and order them to take precautions ranging from social distancing to protective gear for workers.
Committee Democrats complained that no laborers or health officials were invited to speak.
11:44 a.m. -- Wisconsin 2020 Game Fish season proceeding as normal, with opening set for May 2
The season will be allowed to happen as normal because outdoor activity is recognized as essential under Gov. Tony Evers' Safer at Home order, the state DNR said Thursday.
All regulations and license requirements still apply. The DNR also reminds anglers to fish close to their homes, and practice social distancing at all times.
“This year anglers will find themselves experiencing a non-traditional fishing opener. Instead of traveling to their favorite spot, they will create a new tradition of fishing closer to home and finding new local spots to catch a fish or two,” said Justine Hasz, Bureau Director of Fisheries Management. “Fisheries staff have maintained hatchery operations and have been stocking fish out across the state for anglers to go test their skills.”
10:57 a.m. -- Essential truck drivers struggle financially because of COVID-19's economic impact
According to the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association, there are more than 17,000 trucking companies in the state of Wisconsin. Many of those companies are small with only two or three truck drivers employed. Leaders warn the impact that the coronavirus is having on the trucking industry could soon end up costing consumers.
Sergio Ruvalcaba, a truck driver who stopped for gas at Love's Truck Stop in Oak Creek on Thursday said he is used to working 13 hours per day. Now, the hourly-paid driver is scheduled about eight hours per day. He tells TMJ4 he is losing about $1,000 dollars per month due to non-essential businesses being closed.
"Now, that things are slacking up I'm picking up $700 or $600," said Parham.
Neal Kedzie, President of the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association said demand for shipping using some specific types of trucks, such as refrigerated trucks, has been slashed in half as states force businesses to close and residents to stay home.
"Much of the freight orders have decreased and also the freight rates have dropped so there is less profit margin for the drivers," said Kedzie.
Read the full story here.
9:36 a.m. -- Marinette shipbuilders infected with coronavirus
WBAY-TV reports the company reported its first employee infection on April 23 and announced this week that three more employees have since tested positive. The first worker hasn't been at the shipyard since April 17.
The others haven't been at the shipyard since last week.
The company believes about a dozen workers in Wisconsin and Michigan may have been exposed to the first patient.
Those workers have been quarantined. The company has set up a website for people to track possible cases in employees and for information for employees who may be sick.
8:42 a.m. -- Wauwatosa restaurant owner says he will not open restaurant on May 1
Dan Zierath said that he was planning to open the dining room of his restaurant, Jackson's Blue Ribbon Pub on Bluemound Road, on May 1, defying the extension of Wisconsin's Safer at Home order.
Zierath said he was inspired by protesters who had gathered to show their opposition to the extension.
"I am very sad to say that we will not be opening up Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub May 1. It’s a terrible feeling and I feel like I am letting so many people down. The support and the love that I have received in the past week not to mention people thanking me for doing what I was doing more than outweighed all the trolls that gave me a hard time for 72 hours," Zierath said in a Facebook post.
According to Zierath, if he opened his restaurant on May 1 like originally planned, there was no guarantee from city officials that he wouldn't be putting his "licenses in jeopardy."
"I just want people to know that this was never about me and I certainly didn’t need that kind of publicity about my personal life to be aired out to the world. I stated from the get-go that Zierath Restaurant Group would be fine regardless if we open now or if we opened two months from now," said Zierath in his post.
The Safer at Home order was originally set to expire on April 24. It was extended to May 26.
7:14 a.m. -- Organization flips GED program to online, next program starts in May
As part of our continuing reports The Rebound Milwaukee, we are sharing resources you can use to manage the pressure of school.
The YWCA seamlessly moved its adult education program online. TMJ4 spoke to one woman who’s life it has changed.
Three months ago, we met with Bertha Nance at a tipping point in her life: She is 60 and in debt, “I’m at $4,000.”
Nance has learned from the YWCA Southeast Wisconsin’s Credit Coaching Program how to get back on track and raise her credit score, “She is really a godsend I tell you, because I didn’t know that I could freeze my credit,”
Since then, workers identified she needed to complete her GED to continue to succeed.
“Real life is connected and that’s what our role is,” said Ginny Finn, President and CEO of YWCA Southeast Wisconsin.
The pandemic did not stop classes a single day. All 70 students including Bertha Nance moved online. Nance adds, “I’m working super hard. I’m talking super hard. I have the tablet up and the computer going back from the computer to the tablet my brain is on overload, but I’m doing it I’m still in it.”
Wednesday, April 29
10:20 p.m. -- Food processing plants see surge in COVID-19 cases, including more than 100 in Darien
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is now investigating complaints around Wisconsin.
"The bottom line is we have several incidents, several surges of positive virus tests happening and in several food processing plants across the state of Wisconsin," said Governor Tony Evers.
One of those plants includes the Birds Eye food processing plant in Darien. Conagra, its parent company, said more than 100 workers have tested positive for COVID-19. The plant is now shut down. United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS) represents migrant workers at Birds Eye. The advocacy group spokesperson Rod Ritcherson said more safety measures need to be taken before the plant reopens to stop another outbreak from happening.
"Without healthy workers, our food supply could be in jeopardy, it's that simple," said Ritcherson.
Conagra Brands, the parent company of Birds Eye, tells us that video is where workers are living who are recovering from COVID-19, not those who do not have the illness. The company said workers without the illness have beds where plexiglass barriers have been installed between the bunks or people are not sleeping directly next to each other.
The Birds Eye plant has been shut down since April 17th. It is not the only food processing plant dealing with outbreaks.
9:21 p.m. -- Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele signs new ordinance to address racial equality amid COVID-19
The executive did this during the daily Milwaukee County coronavirus task force briefing. The resolution commits the county to achieve racial equality by eliminating racism in policies, procedures, and practices.
Abele said he couldn't be happier that this was the last ordinance he will sign after nine years as County Executive. He framed it around the disproportionate amount of African Americans infected with COVID-19.
"The disparity in these numbers during this crisis is the most starkest illustration and most tragic you can ask for of conditions that have lasted for decades and decades and decades," said Abele.
The ordinance says to transform the Milwaukee County government, employees at all levels will first focus on solutions "which directly address power structures and institutional practices contributing to racial health disparities of County residents," including a diverse and inclusive workforce and a customer-focused design.
County Executive Elect David Crowley was also on the call and will now have to assume responsibility for following the ordinance when it comes to budgeting, hiring and awarding contracts. Crowley takes office as County Executive next week.
"Racial equity will be achieved when race no longer predicts the health outcomes," said Crowley.
City of Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik, who is usually on the call, was absent. She was sharing Milwaukee's story on race and COVID-19 on a national roundtable of health officials.
8:58 p.m. -- MADACC to host 'Pet Food Pantry' event to help people affected financially by COVID-19
To help people affected financially by COVID-19 and the Safer at Home restrictions, the Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission (MADACC) is hosting a drive-thru pet food pantry. Cat food, cat litter, and dog food will be distributed.
The event was made possible by a grant from the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and in collaboration with The Pabst Theater Group, the Turner Ballroom, Pet Supplies Plus Greenfield, and the Milwaukee Bucks.
The event takes place Thursday, April 30, from 12-2 p.m. in the Turner Ballroom parking lot, located at 1040 Vel R. Phillips Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53203. MADACC asks all recipients to wait in their cars to be served, as wait times may vary depending on volume.
Wet and dry cat food, dry dog food, and unscented, clumping litter will be available. Supplies are limited.
MADACC and HSUS hope that people that have been adversely affected by layoffs and shutdowns, particularly in the service industry, will feel welcome at this event.
8:02 p.m. -- Milwaukee Brewers to offer credit to season ticket holders to delayed games, but not refunds
The season is still in limbo because of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, the team sent an email to season ticket buyers, which said they would credit their accounts for games scheduled initially between March 28 and April 30, plus an additional 10% credit to be used for 2020 or 2021 purchases.
If you have a ticket for Opening Day, the team says it will be honored for the first regular-season home game played this year. The season is currently suspended.
"These are unprecedented challenges we are facing and circumstances continue to change, so we thank you for your patience and wish you and yours the best during this difficult time," the Brewers write in an email to ticket holders.
7:20 p.m. -- Froedtert to begin using Remdesivir as COVID-19 treatment for patients after promising trial data
Soon, it will be given to certain patients at Froedtert Hospital.
The drug is called Remdesivir, and it's gaining praise from top health officials, including Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci.
"What it has proven is that a drug can block this virus," Dr. Fauci said.
Dr. Fauci is optimistic about early results from a trial on the drug and talked about it during a meeting Wednesday with President Donald Trump.
"The data shows that Remdesivir has a clear-cut significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery," Dr. Fauci said.
He said patients treated with Remdesivir had a 31 percent faster recovery rate than those who were given a placebo.
"All of the other trials that are taking place now have a new standard of care," Dr. Fauci said.
The developments come as Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa announced they'll be using Remdesivir as a treatment for certain COVID-19 patients. It's a part of a program from Gilead Sciences, the drug's manufacturer.
Froedtert Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control, Dr. Mary Beth Graham, is on the frontlines of the hospital's response to the virus.
"I was extremely excited when I found out we finally got into one of their trials," Dr. Graham said.
6:57 p.m. -- Wisconsin needs primary care doctors to fight next phase of COVID-19
According to a report published last week by the Legislative Reference Bureau, 40 percent of the need for primary care physicians is unmet, and Wisconsin needs 150 physicians to fill that need.
In southeast Wisconsin, Kenosha and Walworth counties have a full shortage, and Milwaukee, Racine, and Washington counties have a partial shortage.
Dr. Leonard Egede, Director of the Center for Advancing Population Science at the Medical College of Wisconsin, said it would be essential to track the need of primary care doctors once the Safer at Home order is lifted and people feel more comfortable going to their doctor's office.
He said many people have been putting off going to the doctor during the pandemic. But once the safer at home order is lifted, there may be a rush of patients looking for treatment.
6:24 p.m. -- Concerns still rise over conditions at meat processing facilities
Smithfield Foods, the Owner of Patrick Cudahy plant, would not confirm how many COVID-19 cases are linked to their facility. Instead, they directed us to this statement.
"Across all its facilities, the company is providing team members with abundant personal protective equipment...has implemented mass thermal scanning and installed physical barriers on its production floors."
In Brown County, more than 470 COVID-19 cases were employees who worked at meat and food processing plants. The health department said they are working closely with the facilities.
"We are working with them and making sure they are complying with the guidelines set by the CDC and OSHA," said Claire Paprocki, Brown County Public Health Strategist.
According to the Wisconsin Beef and Cattle Council, an early study shows this pandemic has a 14 billion dollar economic impact nationally. Here in Wisconsin, the impact to cattle farmers 180 million dollars. Wednesday morning Governor Tony Evers supported the president's decision but only if the workers are safe and healthy.
5:37 p.m. -- Emergency order allows expanded opportunities for some nonessential businesses
Emergency Order #34 allowed for certain types of businesses to reopen with several restrictions encouraging social distancing. The emergency order was signed Monday.
The Emergency Order will allow nonessential businesses to do curbside drop-off of goods and animals. All of the businesses will operate free of contact with customers.
This order means that every business across our state can do things like deliveries, mailings, curbside pick-up, and drop off," said Governor Tony Evers. "It's an important step in making sure that while folks are staying safer at home, they can also continue to support small businesses across our state."
Dog groomers, upholstery businesses, automatic car washes, small engine repair shops, and outdoor recreational rentals can now reopen under new restrictions. Those restrictions include making transactions online or by phone only.
"There's things that the vets are too overwhelmed to do, but we can do," said Sarah Saffold, assistant manager of Central Bark on Milwaukee's East Side.
5:05 p.m. -- Fears of COVID-19 could be keeping people from going to emergency room or urgent care
It's just one concern hospitals worry about as they look to phase in some medical services that have been on pause with the pandemic.
"We are trending in the right way," said Eric Borgerding, President of the Wisconsin Hospital Association.
He sees the number or coronavirus deaths and cases every day, but he also monitors the number of Wisconsin hospital beds with COVID-19 patients.
4:40 p.m. -- Evers' attorney warns of safe-at-home patchwork
(AP) Gov. Tony Evers' attorney is warning that Wisconsin would see a confusing patchwork of county stay-at-home orders if the state Supreme Court strikes down the existing statewide mandate.
Republican legislators asked the conservative-leaning high court earlier this month to strike down Evers' statewide order, saying the mandate is crushing the state's economy.
Multiple groups filed briefs with the court Wednesday arguing for and against the statewide order. Church groups and legal scholars contend Evers is well within his rights to impose the order. Conservative groups, including organizations representing hunters and fishing guides, insist the governor overstepped his authority.
Evers' attorney, Ryan Nilsestuen, told reporters during a conference call that if the court strikes down the statewide order counties would be on their own and would start issuing localized stay-at-home orders. He said the rules would change for anyone crossing a county line.
Dr. Jim Conway, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, told reporters on the call that if the statewide order is erased the state would start seeing major outbreaks within a week.
2:46 p.m. -- Republicans praise Evers' spending cuts and call for more
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers’ has ordered state agencies to reduce spending by 5% between now and July, drawing praise from Republicans who called for even more cuts.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and budget committee co-chair John Nygren both said Wednesday that spending should be frozen starting in July.
Wisconsin is grappling with steep revenue drops due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Evers earlier this month told President Donald Trump in a letter that the state could lose as much as $2 million over the next year. To date, 300 people have died of COVID-19 in Wisconsin and the state has had more than 6,200 confirmed cases of the disease.
1:27 p.m. -- Great food at great prices: Jizzles Sandwich Shop is ready to serve you
"Our biggest seller is chicken rice and gravy. At $5.26 and $5.86, you can't beat it," says Donte Lee, head chef at Jizzles.
For Head Chef Donte Lee, a meeting with the owner of Jizzles was like a dream come true.
"He was the first guy I met that just wanted to make sure people ate at a decent price. A lot of people we serve aren't able to get a home-cooked meal like we serve here, and they come and get it every day," says Donte.
COVID-19 may be changing the way things run day-to-day, but it hasn't changed the prices nor the food.
"We make sure we follow every guideline that they give us to follow, and that's the biggest thing. As long as we stand within the guidelines, we have no problems," says Donte. "I don't know how we keep it at the same price, but he does. His prices never change; they've been the same for about 15 years."
Continuing to serve Milwaukee throughout the week, Jizzles is a place that can quickly become a regular spot for customers.
"He said if you give them good food, they'll keep coming and want to know who you are want to talk to you. He's shown me that because everybody asks where he's at all the time," says Donte.
Note that Jizzles has moved locations from 4618 W. Burleigh St. to 2611 W State St.
12:33 p.m. -- Wisconsin providing temporary food benefits for children who qualify for free, reduced school meals
More than 400,000 Wisconsin children who currently qualify for free or reduced meal prices at their schools will receive temporary food benefits from the Department of Health Services, the agency announced Wednesday.
The $140 million in funds were appropriated as part of the "Families First Coronavirus Response Act" and provided by the US Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service. The benefits will be put on cards for families to use to purchase food at grocery stores or farmers markets, pending availability.
The funds will be used for March, April, May, and part of June, to cover the days that school would normally be in session.
“Hunger has long term, detrimental effects on children’s development. Normally we can address the nutritional needs of our most vulnerable kids through working with food programs in schools, but the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted those efforts,” said Jim Jones, Administrator of the Division of Medicaid Services that will be coordinating distribution of P-EBT benefits in Wisconsin. “Just like children are having to learn at home, they are also having to eat at home, and we know that without these resources, some families can’t make ends meet.”
DHS is reaching out to qualifying famliies directly to let them know how to access their funds. If a family already receives benefits from the state, the new funds will be added to their QUEST card or another dedicated card. Families that are not currently participating in benefits programs will have to apply separately, and DHS says it is reaching to spread the word to those families as well.
11:56 a.m. -- Officials hope new drive-up testing site will offer insight into combating COVID-19 in Kenosha County
The testing site, located in the parking lot of Gateway Technical College's Kenosha Campus, is a joint venture between the Kenosha Community Health Center and the Kenosha County Division of Health. The site is open to patients who have been selected by health care providers for screening by the Division of Health.
Officials say an average of 10-15 people are testing positive with COVID-19 daily in Kenosha County. The data collected at the new drive-up testing site will help doctors track the spread of the virus more efficiently.
"We have seen a desperate need for more testing in Kenosha County, said Dr. Jen Freiheit, Kenosha County Health Officer.
Around 1% of Kenosha County's population has been tested for COVID-19. 358 people have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 and nine people have died.
With the state's safer-at-home order extended until May 26th, current data projects COVID-19 to peak in Kenosha County on June 3rd. 2,480 people are projected to test positive.
"After we get some testing ramped up here we will be alter those projection modelings," said Dr. Freiheit.
11:08 a.m. -- Evers orders 5% cut in state spending
WisPolitics.com obtained a letter that state Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan sent to state employees Tuesday evening informing them of the cut.
Brennan also said in the letter that a state hiring freeze will continue albeit with exemptions for positions related to responding to the pandemic and positions considered essential for maintaining state agency functions.
Merit raises have been suspended and employee travel will be restricted to pandemic response, he added.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Evers told President Donald Trump in a recent letter that the state could lose as much as $2 billion over the next year, although the administration hasn’t conducted a revenue projection since the pandemic began.
10:26 a.m. -- DWD to begin issuing additional $600 a week in unemployment benefits Wednesday
The DWD said that FPUC is a temporary increase of $600 per week in unemployment benefits. It provides extra money to anyone who is receiving unemployment benefits from:
- Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI)
- Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE)
- Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service members (UCX)
- Partial Unemployment Compensation
The payment is automatically added to their benefit payments, so no action is needed.
Those who filed a claim before April 4 will see the payment retroactively paid starting that week.
Find more information here.
9:43 a.m. -- Kathy's House among charities that will have to fundraise in different economic landscape
They've also forced the postponement or cancellation of large events, even those for charities.
"We had to cancel our gala, which is our largest fundraiser of the year," said Patty Metropulos, President & CEO of Kathy's House. "Future events, like our golf tournament in October, those are also unknown right now."
Kathy's House is a nonprofit that serves patients of all ages, and their caregivers, who have to travel to Milwaukee for medical care.
Metropulos said many of the patients who stay at Kathy's House are undergoing treatment for cancer and other long-term medical conditions.
She said patient surveys have showed 40% of people at Kathy's House believe they would not have access to the medical care they need without an affordable place like Kathy's House to stay at. The house recommends all patients make a donation towards their rooms, but doesn't have a set, minimum contribution.
Tuesday, April 28
10:29 p.m. -- Cudahy's Smithfield plant facing questions of safety after mayor refuses to release COVID-19 numbers
But county and state leaders question if it is safe to open when the mayor of Cudahy and Smithfield refuses to answer questions about how many workers at the Patrick Cudahy plant have gotten sick.
Two weeks ago, on April 15th, Smithfield Foods announced it was closing the Patrick Cudahy plant for cleaning after some employees tested positive for coronavirus.
Milwaukee County Supervisor Steven Shea, who lives just a few blocks from the plant and represents Cudahy, said two weeks ago the number was 28 cases. But he doesn't know if that has grown.
"That is precisely the problem," said Shea. "Smithfield and the City of Cudahy have been hiding the number."
Milwaukee County Supervisor Sylia Ortiz-Velez said a lot of Smithfield employees live on the south side in the 53215 zip code. She believes the recent spike in COVID-19 cases is connected to the Smithfield facility.
Two weeks ago, Smithfield released a statement about its Cudahy plant saying:
"A small number of employees… have tested positive for COVID-19. Employees will be paid for the next two weeks, during which time essential personnel will repeat the rigorous deep cleaning and sanitization that have been ongoing at the facilities."
TMJ4 News reached out to Cudahy Health Department, who says they were told by the mayor they cannot answer questions related to this case. Cudahy Mayor Thomas Pavlic has not returned our phone calls or emails. Milwaukee County Health leaders also would not give specific numbers, only saying employees are now undergoing COVID-19 testing.
9:56 p.m. -- Evers administration files response to Republican 'Safer at Home' suit
In response to the Wisconsin Supreme Court, the state Attorney General Josh Kaul lays out the order for keeping the order intact.
When the suit was filed on April 21, Republicans said that legislators wanted to be part of the rulemaking process. In Tuesday's filing, Kaul wrote, "even the quickest version of rulemaking takes weeks. Compare that with the first Safer-at-Home order: it was issued in response to modeling that showed, with approximately three days' warning, Wisconsin had to act to halt the uncontrolled spread of COVID-19."
The administration said when the first order was issued, cases of COVID-19 were doubling every 3.4 days. After the "Safer at Home" order was put in place, that slowed to every 12.4 days.
In the Motion for Injunction filed by the legislature, it called the order an overreach by Secretary of Health Designee Andrea Palm. Kaul said Tuesday that in an "undisputed emergency… and unquestioned need to control a communicable disease … the statutes vest broad powers in the DHS to combat this rare statewide threat."
Tuesday's response was accompanied by legal statements from health experts and others. The Republican-led legislature has until Thursday, April 30, to respond. The Supreme Court has not said if they will hear oral arguments in the case.
8:02 p.m. -- Finding work in the pandemic: DWD says more than 58,000 jobs available now
"There are some occupational feeds that are in demand right now because of the pandemic," Dave Shaw, Job Service District Director for the Department of Workforce Development, said. "This includes community and social service occupations, maintenance type occupations, food prep and serving, healthcare occupations, which might be a little higher skill position."
Shaw says these jobs range in pay from $10 per hour to $25 or more depending on skills and experience.
With a record number of people filing for unemployment, career coach Shontina Gladney says now is the best time to reassess your career.
"It's time to stop pressing the snooze button on your dreams," Gladney said.
6:18 p.m. -- Fifth nun dies of COVID-19 complications at Greenfield convent
Sister Bernadette Kelter died on April 26. She was 88 years old. The medical examiner says she tested positive for COVID-19 in a post mortem test.
A private mass of burial will be held Thursday, April 30. Instead of flowers, the obituary says contributions to the School Sisters of St. Francis are appreciated.
Four other nuns at the same convent have also died from complications related to COVID-19. Sister Mary Regine Collins died on April 6, Sister Marie June Skender died on April 7, Sister Mary Francele Sherburne died on April 9, and Sister Annelda Holtkamp died on April 19.
4:59 p.m. -- AJ Bombers, Smoke Shack among restaurants planning to reopen Thursday
Hospitality Democracy says the following restaurants will be back open for curbside pickup and delivery.
AJ Bombers (downtown) at 1247 N. Water Street
Open 11:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. daily, closed on Mondays
Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequilaria (Third Ward) at 249 N. Water Street
Open 11:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. daily, closed on Mondays
Onesto (Third Ward) at 221 N. Broadway
Open 4:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. daily, closed on Tuesdays
Smoke Shack (Third Ward) at 332 N. Milwaukee Street
Open 11:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. daily, closed on Tuesdays
AJ Bombers - Mayfair Collection, Smoke Shack Express - Mayfair Collection, and Holey Moley Coffee & Doughnuts will remain closed for now.
To see the full list of restaurants open for business, click here.
3:46 p.m. -- Avoid scammers offering to forgive student loan debt, offers to change repayment plans
For those with student loans, the CARES Act helped address some of those concerns, including federal student loan borrowers.
“Lost wages due to the new coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, may affect borrowers’ ability to manage and repay their student loans,” said Kathy Blumenfeld, Cabinet Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) in a press release. “The federal government, private lenders, and others are offering student loan relief to help borrowers manage the economic fallout.”
Borrowers with federally held student loans automatically received a six-month forbearance for eligible loans, meaning no payments will be due and no interest will accrue between March 13 and Sept. 30.
“Borrowers also need to be aware of potential scams involving student loans, such as receiving emails asking for a fee or confirmation to have student loan payments suspended,” said Lara Sutherlin, Administrator, Division of Trade and Consumer Protection, Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP). “All eligible federal student loans are automatically enrolled; borrowers should not be asked, nor should they pay a fee for anything related to their federal student loans at this time.”
“There is no such thing as instant student loan relief, and borrowers don’t need to pay a fee for their student loan servicer to help them,” said DATCP Administrator Sutherlin. “Often student loan scams are robocalls or text messages asking borrowers to call them back in order to get more information on how these new measures will impact their future payment obligations. If this happens, borrowers shouldn’t answer or return these requests.”
DATCP also offered these other tips for borrowers to protect themselves against scammers:
- Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers
- Never share personal information through email, text message or over the phone
- Be cautions if you're being pressured to share any information or asked to make a payment immediately
- Scammers often spoof phone numbers
- Do not click any links in a text message
3:21 p.m. -- City of Kenosha postpones 4th of July fireworks show until Labor Day
The city said it will postpone the fireworks and celebration to Sept. 6, Labor Day weekend.
“Celebrating Independence Day with a parade and fireworks is one of our community’s favorite traditions,” Mayor John Antaramian said. “However, it would not be responsible for the city to host a gathering with large crowds at this point in time.”
The city also canceled its 2020 Kenosha Civic Veterans Parade that was scheduled for June 28.
Kenosha is joining a growing list of cities and towns canceling events. Milwaukee canceled its July 3 Lakefront Fireworks on Monday. Glendale canceled its show earlier this month.
3:02 p.m. -- Brown County remains COVID-19 hot spot
The latest figures from the Brown County Health Department show that more than 500 workers and their close contacts at meatpacking plants in and around Green Bay have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The plants in the Green Bay area have been a hotspot for COVID-19 cases due to spread among workers at the meatpacking plants and their close contacts.
There were 255 employees of JBS Packerland who tested positive, and another 79 positive cases among people connected to the workers. That plant closed on Sunday.
There were 145 workers who tested positive at American Foods Group, with another seven positive cases among people linked to the employees.
And there were another 23 cases among workers at Salm Partners, a sausage maker in Denmark, about 20 miles away.
Brown County registered its third death from the virus on Tuesday and had more than 900 confirmed cases countywide.
Statewide, the total number of positive cases neared 6,300 and 300 people have died. More than half of the deaths, 174, have been in Milwaukee County.
1:39 p.m. -- Unions seek to join lawsuit challenging stay-at-home order
Republican legislators asked the state Supreme Court on April 21 to block the order, arguing state Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm issued the order unilaterally without legislative approval.
The Milwaukee Teachers' Education Association, Madison Teachers Inc., SEIU Healthcare Wisconsin and Amalgamated Transit Union Local 998 filed a motion with the court Tuesday morning seeking to intervene in the case.
The unions argue the Legislature has no standing to sue and Palm was within her rights when she issued the order.
1:09 p.m. -- Five Milwaukee health centers ramp up COVID-19 testing
The diagnostic testing at the centers were made possible from state and county emergency operations centers, Lewis said.
Those who are enrolled at one of the health centers, don't have a regular doctor, and are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms are directed to call their nearest center to determine if they need a diagnostic test.
- These five health centers are:
- Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center: (414) 383-9526| www.gliihc.net
- Milwaukee Health Services, Inc.: (414) 372-8080| www.mhsi.org
- Outreach Community Health Centers: (414) 727-6320|www.ochc-milw.org
- Progressive Community Health Centers: (414) 882-2040| www.progressivechc.org
- Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers: (414) 672-1353| www.sschc.org
“The Community Health Centers are truly on the front-lines in our efforts to keep the public healthy and informed about COVID-19 and the best ways to prevent the spread of the deadly virus,” Lewis said in a press release. “The coronavirus is no joke, no hoax, and I want community members to seek out and sign up for testing, to take all necessary precautions and to please stay safe at home until the Safer at Home order can be lifted.”
11:12 a.m. -- 4th Fest of Greater Racine still going on as planned
You might not be able to catch a fireworks show in Milwaukee this July, but Racine is still going ahead with its Fourth of July festivities.
On its website, the 4th Fest of Greater Racine said it still planned to hold its parade and fireworks on Saturday, July 4.
On Monday, the July 3 Lakefront Fireworks in Milwaukee were canceled. Glendale also announced earlier this month that it was also canceling its Fourth of July celebration.
Both were canceled amid coronavirus concerns.
10:27 a.m. -- Wisconsin Democrats move to virtual state convention
(AP) The Wisconsin Democratic Party will hold a virtual state convention on June 12, scrapping its original plans to gather at a water park in Wisconsin Dells for its annual gathering.
The Democratic National Committee still plans to meet in person in Milwaukee for the national convention, which was pushed back a month until the week of August 17 due to the coronavirus.
The state party convention will have a more limited agenda, including fewer speeches, with the move to virtual only.
Democrats canceled plans to debate and vote on its platform and resolutions, caucus meetings and changes to the party’s constitution.
9:41 a.m. -- Danielle's Deli in Brookfield offering staples like toilet paper, flour during coronavirus pandemic
"We make all of our meats in house, we make all of our sausages, we cut our beef, steak, chicken, and pork. Anything out of the hot case is homemade, all of our salads are frozen, we do a Friday Fish Fry. Sundays if you buy a pound of ham, beef, or turkey you get six free rolls. We grill on Thursdays, we make over 20 subs, and we have a full catering menu," says Danielle Galvin, owner of Danielle's.
"We've tried to do a lot more curbside pickup. We have a lot of call-in orders. We have tried out GrubHub, which is something new for us to do, we've never used them. We try to ask the customers what they would like us to do, or what kind of meals they would like prepared so it's easier for them to just come in pick up and get out," says Danielle.
Danielle has even added items to the deli's shop to help out high-risk customers.
"I have a lot of elderly customers and they are kind of worried. So I carry toilet paper, eggs, flour, and milk just because if they can get it here and not have to go to a big grocery store why not," says Danielle.
8:53 a.m. -- Gov. Tony Evers directs DNR to reopen state parks, forests under special conditions
The parks had closed on April 9, due to concerns over crowds and vandalism.
On Tuesday, Evers directed DNR to reopen 34 state parks and forests on May 1. The special conditions are to help minimize overcrowding and allow for social distancing requirements.
“Outdoor recreation is important for both physical and mental health, and I know how important it is to Wisconsinites to get outside and enjoy Wisconsin’s natural resources and spring weather,” said Evers in a press release. “With a few adjustments, like closing one day a week for maintenance and reduced hours of operation, folks should be able to get outside and enjoy our parks safely and respectfully.”
7:52 a.m. -- 27-year-old Wisconsin man critically ill with COVID-19 saved thanks to blood pumping machine
But doctors at Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin tried something new - they put him on a machine called ECMO, that pumps the blood while putting oxygen into it - giving his heart and lungs an opportunity to rest. After two weeks in the hospital, the father of three is back home.
The man has no pre-existing conditions and believes he contracted the virus while traveling, a news release says.
"ECMO is proving to be a promising solution when ventilators are not helping COVID-19 patients improve, and we are actually seeing better outcomes for these individuals within 12-24 hours of being placed on ECMO," said Lucian Durham III, MD, PhD, associate professor at MCW and cardiothoracic surgeon at Froedtert & MCW. "Billy's successful outcome truly speaks to the skill and experience of our ECMO team, and to the tremendous collaboration with our community hospitals that enable patients around the region to receive world-class care."
The hospital says the man's case will be used to help other patients around the world.
7:20 a.m. -- Husband, wife of 73 years die within hours; both had virus
A husband and wife of 73 years who both tested positive for the coronavirus have died within hours of each other at a Milwaukee hospital.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Wilford and Mary Kepler spent their final moments together just feet apart.
Staff at Froedtert Hospital moved their beds closer together during their final days so they could hold hands.
They died April 18, with Mary Kepler dying just six hours after her husband. Although both tested positive for the coronavirus, Wilford Kepler's cause of death was a traumatic head injury after he fell on April 12.
Monday, April 27
9:47 p.m. -- Coronavirus-related plant closures strain Wisconsin meat producers
On Sunday, Tyson took out a full-page ad in the New York Times and the Washington Post, writing, "The food supply chain is breaking," and "millions of pounds of meat will disappear from the supply chain."
Matt Ludlow is a cattle backgrounder near La Crosse and is feeling the pinch. He also heads up the Wisconsin Cattlemen's Association.
"We have cattle that we own that are in a feedlot in Iowa right now that need to go to the processing plant, but we can't get them sold," Ludlow said. "It's been really tough to see this good demand, but we can't get things through the supply chain."
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union say 13 plants have closed nationwide since the pandemic, and meat processing has gone down by 10 percent for beef and 25 percent for pork.
"As an industry we've been altering diets, reducing the protein in the diets, trying to slow them down a little bit, but at the end of the day, once they outgrow their pens and their buildings it's hard to find alternative options," said Wisconsin Pork Association President James Magolski.
Producers believe it's only a matter of time before consumers start to see fewer meat options on the shelves at grocery stores, or even higher prices. Brandon Scholz, the president of the Wisconsin Grocer's Association, says he's in contact with retailers, and they say the supply is ok right now.
"They are conscious as each week goes by, talking to their suppliers as to whether or not they will be able to meet consumer demand," Scholz said. "So, it is a week by week watch."
A spokesperson for Roundy's, the parent company of Metro Market and Pick 'N Save, sent this statement: "There is no shortage of meat in the U.S. The shortage of workers at meat processing plants due to COVID-19 closures has caused a slowdown in output. We source from various plants in the U.S., and our stores continue to have a good supply of beef, chicken, and pork products. However, until meat processing plants are running at full production output again, customers might experience limits on certain items and less variety in various cuts and product options."
Consumers don't seem too worried.
"I mean, I don't love that. Meat's a pretty big part of my diet, but I'm sure I'll be able to find something to substitute it for," Harrison Vangello said.
The Tyson ad calls for the government to help the plants safely open again.
"The faster these processing plants can get workers to be better, be healthier, get back to work, the quicker we'll work through it," Ludlow said.
9:08 p.m. -- UnitedHealthcare offers free online COVID-19 symptom checker, suggests treatment options
It's free for anyone to use and can be used as a recommendation for the next steps of care.
The self-checker uses an AI-powered algorithm factoring in responses to questions about an individual's health. Once all of the questions are answered, the self-checker will tell the user what action to take, based on the latest clinical guidelines. Those actions include staying home, receiving information on emotional support, contacting a primary care provider or conducting a telehealth visit, or seeking emergency care.
To find a COVID-19 testing location near you, click here.
7:22 p.m. -- Beard MKE, small business on city's east side, nervous about future without PPP loan
Beard MKE, a men's lifestyle retail shop on Milwaukee's East Side, did not receive funding when they applied last month.
"We received news the funding ran out when we got the update our application was 75 percent complete," Michael Sander, co-owner of Beard MKE, said. "We were excited, but a minute later, got an email saying funding has been exhausted."
The business opened in March of 2019. One year and two days later, COVID-19 forced them to close their doors, and now they don't know if they'll ever reopen.
"It bothers me that money went to big huge corporations," Sander said. "It's not really helping the little man."
According to FactSquared, in Wisconsin, three publicly traded companies received PPP loans. Waukesha-based Telkonet, Inc. received $913,063. Madison-based Sonic Foundry, Inc. received $2,314,815, and Racine-based Twin Disc, Inc. received $8,199,500. Sander and his partner say they'd need less than $20,000 to stay afloat.
"We have heard of some larger lenders that actually did that," Rob Scott, Regional Administrator for the US Small Business Administration, Great Lakes Region said. "Their rationale was, they employ more folks, and they want to help as many employees as possible that are affected by this crisis."
Congress appropriated $310 billion for the second round of PPP funding. Scott says they're pushing lenders to serve these requests on a first-come, first-served basis so businesses like Beard MKE would get equal help.
"We have no legal authority to enforce that on a lending institution," Scott said. "But if your lending institution is not treating you right as a customer, there re plenty of others offering the PPP loan."
Scott suggests using smaller credit unions or banks to process the PPP application.
5:00 p.m. -- Advocate Aurora Health no longer allowing visitors due to COVID-19
- The new policy goes into effect immediately, with few exceptions. These exceptions are:
Visitors who meet any of the above exceptions will receive a health screening before entering the facility.
Aurora is also encouraging all visitors to wear a mask when going to the facility.
For more on Advocate Aurora's no-visitor policy or other measures they are taking during this pandemic, click here.
4:26 p.m. -- Financial relief available to Wisconsin nonprofits affected by COVID-19
The Wisconsin Humanities Council has established the Wisconsin Humanities CARES Relief Grant program to help Wisconsin's humanities and cultural organizations that are struggling amid this pandemic.
The program will distribute close to $540,000 in federal relief funding across the state. Each eligible organization can apply for up to $10,000 in funds and has until May 15 to do so.
"We are so glad to be able to offer nonprofits this assistance. These grants will help them weather these hard times by easing the burden of operating costs, like salaries and rent," says Dena Wortzel, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Humanities Council.
According to Wisconsin Humanities, "to be eligible, applicants must be nonprofit organizations located in Wisconsin that provide public humanities programming as a significant part of their mission."
For more information or to apply for a grant, click here.
4:07 p.m. -- Individuals collecting unemployment to begin receiving $600 stimulus check
According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), these checks will provide individuals with an emergency fund of $600 per week.
These new payments will begin the week of April 26, and individuals do not need to apply or fill out any paperwork to receive it. The $600 will automatically be added to your benefit payments.
If you have a pending unemployment application, you do not need to apply again to qualify for the $600.
3:45 p.m. -- Lakefront Brewery announces new curbside pickup menu, available 4 days a week
Pickup will be available beginning at 3 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m. All orders must be placed and paid for in advance. When picking up your order, call (414) 292-0806, and employees will bring your food to you.
To-go beer will be available for pickup, and Lakefront will be hosting Growler Thursdays. However, for sanitation and health reasons, Lakefront Brewery will only fill new Growlers.
As a part of Growler Thursdays, customers can purchase growlers of tap beer at half the regular price. Lakefront is also offering cheese curds and take-n-bake pretzels.
Lakefront Brewery is also offering half off of cheese curds every Monday.
In addition to selling food and beer, Lakefront Brewery will be selling their self-produced hand sanitizer in 4 oz. bottles, 32 oz. jugs, and cases of 25, 4 oz. bottles.
With these new promotions and sales, it's important to remember that Lakefront Brewery is also still providing their Friday fish fry.
For more information on all Lakefront Brewery has to offer, click here.
3:40 p.m. -- 133 people have been arrested for violating 'Safer at Home' order in Milwaukee
The order, in effect until May 26, requires that all Wisconsinites stay in their homes except for essential trips or to get outdoors. Anyone who violates this order could be cited by police or even arrested.
The order went into effect on Wednesday, March 25, and since then, the Milwaukee Police Department has had to arrest 133 people.
These violations could include doing things like gathering in large groups or crowding public places.
While some of the restrictions have been lifted with the Safer at Home order extension, Wisconsinites should still stay home as much as possible and follow social distancing rules.
2:00 p.m. -- Governor Tony Evers relaxes restrictions on some non-essential businesses
Governor Evers is now allowing non-essential businesses to do curbside drop off of goods and animals.
With these adjustments, businesses such as dog groomers, small engine repairs shops, and upholstery businesses will be able to reopen.
The new order also allows outdoor recreational rentals such as ATV's, boats, golf karts, kayaks, and other similar vehicles. Automatic and self-service car washes will also be allowed to reopen.
All of these businesses, however, are required to operate without any physical contact with customers. Online or over-the-phone payment options must be made available, and they must enact proper disinfecting practices.
"This order means that every business across our state can do things like deliveries, mailings, curbside pick-up and drop-off, and it's an important step in making sure that while folks are staying safer at home, they can also continue to support small businesses across our state," said Governor Evers.
These new adjustments go into effect Wednesday, April 29.
1:09 p.m. -- City of Milwaukee cancels traditional Fourth of July celebrations
The city made the announcement Monday after the July 3 Lakefront Fireworks were canceled due to COVID-19.
“After 40 plus years of being involved in the 4th of July celebration this is a tough decision but the only right one,” Fourth of July Commission Chair Cheryl Cieciwa said. “We are disappointed we will not be gathering with our friends and neighbors to celebrate the 4th this year, but we look forward to resuming this cherished Milwaukee tradition in 2021.”
The festivities have taken place at more than a dozen Milwaukee County parks since 1911. This year, however, locals won't be able to take part.
However, fourth of July festivities are scheduled to resume in 2021.
12:30 p.m. -- Local business group develops new at-home, online trivia game
The Milwaukee group, which operates Nine Below, AXE MKE, and North South Club, are calling it "Head Space Trivia," a live trivia and puzzle challenge game for groups of 5 to 50 players.
“Our core business is providing activities for friends, family, and colleagues to play together, so this is a natural extension of our brand. We believe Head Space Trivia has a place in the entertainment market beyond COVID-19, but it’s certainly perfect for the current situation," said Bars & Recreation owner Marla Poytinger.
The new game will host solo players and household teams for their public trivia rounds.
Each head space, which is the square each head occupies in a video chat, costs $9 but there is no limit to how many people can be involved in one head space. Meaning, if you want you whole family involved, you still only have to pay $9.
After each round, the winning team will get a game voucher for any future play.
There are also private games if you wish to just play with friends and family. For these games, head spaces costs between $6 and $13. According to Bars & Recreation, "private groups get their own live trivia host and may choose upgrades including custom questions."
Reservations are now open at HeadSpaceTrivia.com.
Guests may also call 414-939-8837 to reserve. Private event inquiries may be sent to email@example.com or requested on the website.
10:17 a.m. -- Milwaukee's Sound Check Studios offering free bonus music lesson during pandemic
"After two weeks it was pretty apparent that we needed to do something other than just sitting around and wait for the restrictions to be lifted," says Michael Grassman, owner of Sound Check Studios.
Through various virtual realms students have access to, Michael and his instructors continue to jam out with students.
"I always say it's a great time to be learning because you've got the time at home. I have been at home hours a day practicing and making videos. Just trying to get better at things that I haven't had time to do before," says Michael.
This is why even during hard times Sound Check Studios is offering one free lesson on top of their usual specials.
"With the virtual realm, we are tagging on one free lesson just to get the ball rolling and then get the special of first four lessons for $50," says Michael.
8:38 a.m. -- July 3 Milwaukee Lakefront Fireworks canceled due to coronavirus
American Family Insurance, who are the main sponsors of the event, said the event will not be rescheduled.
“We’re obviously disappointed for the many Wisconsin residents who have made the lakefront fireworks an Independence Day tradition,” said Judd Schemmel, American Family Insurance associate vice president of community investment and partnerships. “However, the continuing uncertainty of the pandemic and concern for the health and safety of participants made it the right decision. American Family looks forward to continuing our support of this iconic community event in 2021.”
In lieu of the fireworks, American Family Insurance will donate to the newly-established Milwaukee Parks Foundation.
“We know this was a difficult decision for American Family Insurance and their partners, and we agree it’s the correct decision,” said Milwaukee County Parks Executive Director Guy Smith. “We look forward to seeing the display return even bigger and better in 2021.”
The event is sponsored by American Family Insurance, T&M Partners, the Milwaukee Brewers, and Milwaukee County Parks.
7:42 a.m. -- Gov. Evers to provide update on Badger Bounce Back plan Monday
It's been one week since Gov. Tony Evers announced the 'Badger Bounce Back' plan, a phased approach to reopening Wisconsin's economy.
Under the plan, Wisconsin must see a 14-day downward trajectory in positive cases as a percentage of total tests. The state must also continue to increase testing, and increase its ability to trace people with the virus.
Once Wisconsin meets the above criteria, it can enter the first of three phases designed to reopen chimerical and social activity.
Phase one would include reopening restaurants with social distancing in place, and getting back into childcare facilities. Phase two would allow gatherings of up to 50 people, and include reopening bars. In phase three, all business activity and gatherings would be resumed.
Currently, Wisconsin has not seen a 14-day downward trajectory in cases that would allow it to reopen. You can see the latest data here.
7:01 a.m. -- Gardening centers and DIY studio adapt under 'Safer at Home' order
Nurseries and gardening centers have been considered essential businesses since Governor Tony Evers issued the ‘Safer at Home’ order in March. Many garden centers don’t open until this time of the year when the weather gets nicer, but others like Plant Land in Milwaukee opened up in March.
Pull up to Plant Land and you’ll find flowers and vegetables galore. However, you will also find some changes.
Co-owner Karen Jorgensen-Matt said shortly after opening, they had to adjust the way they do business.
“We’ve gotten a lot of calls for curbside pickup which we’re happy to do, deliveries you know within a certain radius,” Jorgensen-Matt said.
They posted signs encouraging social-distancing. Employees are now wearing masks and plexiglass separates them from customers at the checkout station. They’re also monitoring the number of people in each greenhouse.
When it comes to business, Jorgensen-Matt said they’re a little down for this time of the year, but vegetables sales are way up.
“I had a couple come yesterday spend the most I’ve ever seen on one vegetable order,” Jorgensen-Matt said.
6:14 a.m. -- 'Meals Matter Movement' turns donations into meals for local first responders
Right now, restaurants across the state are limited to take out and delivery services under the Governor's Safer at Home order, which is scheduled to run through May 26.
In an effort to show appreciation for workers fighting the coronavirus, while also helping local restaurants survive the tough times, Lori Klosowski and her family started the Meals Matter Movement.
Klosowski's youngest son Sam, 19, is battling Hodgkin lymphoma. He underwent a stem cell transplant two months ago as part of his treatment.
Because Sam is at risk of serious complications should he contract COVID-19, the family has been quarantined at the advice of doctors since February 3.
"We've been in quarantine a long time, and we just really wanted to do something to help," said Klosowski.
So her family came up with the idea of the Meals Matter Movement.
They began collecting donations to buy meals for medical professionals and first responders who continue to work on the front lines of the fight against coronavirus.
Money raised is turned over to Ma Fischer's on Farwell, which then cooks and delivers the meals.
Each donation of $10 buys a meal.
So far, the organization has raised more than $5,000. That includes fundraising efforts by the Oak Creek chapter of the Meals Matter Movement, which has partnered up with Jim Dandy's Pub & Grill.
Sunday, April 26
4:21 p.m. -- Brown County has highest COVID-19 infection rate in Wisconsin, surpassing Milwaukee County
According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Brown County has 298.7 positive cases of COVID-19 per 100,000 people.
That number is higher than all counties across Wisconsin, including Milwaukee County which has a rate of 275.5 cases per 100,000 people. You can see the DHS' county-by-county data here.
Brown County currently has 776 positive cases of coronavirus, with 1,884 tests coming back negative. There have been two deaths within the county.
This higher rate comes after a beef production facility was shut down due to an outbreak of COVID-19. The Brown County Health department has linked 189 cases to the plant, according to WGBA.
JBS USA closed the plant Sunday in order to stop the spread.
3:17 p.m. -- Wisconsin is averaging the lowest gas prices in the country, according to GasBuddy
Averaging at $1.21 per gallon, Wisconsin is seeing the lowest gas prices in years due to the coronavirus pandemic.
No matter if you're living in a Wisconsin county with the highest gas price or the lowest, you are still seeing historically low numbers.
St. Croix County currently has the highest gas price within the state, but it still only sits at $1.64 per gallon.
Those Wisconsinites who are lucky enough to live in Waushara County, though, are seeing gas prices below $1 per gallon. In fact, they're seeing prices of $0.95 per gallon on average.
For those in Milwaukee County, an average gallon of unleaded gas will cost you $1.18. Sheboygan and Ozaukee counties are around the same with prices around $1.25 per gallon.
Since Saturday, the average price in Wisconsin has decreased by 2.9 cents. Since last month, prices are down 49.8 cents. The most important though, is since last year. Prices are down 165.7 cents from last year's average of $2.84 per gallon.
Now, when comparing Wisconsin to the rest of the country, we have a lot to be happy about.
Wisconsin's average is a solid $.563 less than the country as a whole, with the U.S. average sitting at $1.756 per gallon.
To see more about gas prices in Wisconsin and around the country, click here.
2:12 p.m. -- Positive COVID-19 cases nearly 6,000 in Wisconsin; 272 deaths
Wisconsin health officials reported Sunday the number of people in the state testing positive for COVID-19 has grown to 5,911, up 224 from the day before.
The number of deaths attributed to the coronavirus in Wisconsin grew Sunday to 272. That's up six from the previous day.
Statewide, 59,235 tests have come back negative. Hospitalizations increased to 1,397, up from 1,376 on Saturday.
Officials said 24% of people who have tested positive for coronavirus in Wisconsin have been hospitalized.
12:58 p.m. -- Businesses, libraries take advantage of curbside pickup under new Safer At Home order
The Cudahy Family Library said that it had 400 books checked out when it began curbside service on Friday.
"People have really missed the library. People are are exploring our collection a lot more even though they are doing it digitally through the catalog," said Clay Anderson, Circulation Services Supervisor. "They are finding out we have more than just books and movies, they're finding we have board games and puzzles."
Gov. Tony Evers extended the state's Safer At Home order through May 26th, but is allowing non essential businesses such as craft stores, gardening and other shops to offer curbside service.
It's a welcome change to Julie Karasek, who runs Patched Works, a fabric store in Elm Grove. She and her husband have been working day and night shipping out orders through a website she just built. Now she's able to hire help to prepare orders for customers to pick up.
"It's incredibly challenging to shop for fabric which is so tactile through this digital medium," said Karasek. "Until three, four weeks ago we were 100 percent brick and mortar, so having this complete pivot to our operation has been incredibly challenging."
11:45 a.m. -- A wish come true: Brad Pitt portrays Dr. Anthony Fauci on Saturday Night Live [VIDEO]
Saturday Night Live (SNL) has become SNL at Home as the stars create skits from their homes in order to socially distance. This week, the show started out with a cold open from Brad Pitt as he portrayed Fauci, and revised statements from President Trump.
In the skit, Pitt begins by thanking older women for their "supportive, inspiring, and sometimes graphic emails." From there, Pitt goes on to fact check statements from the president.
Of course Pitt couldn't make this skit without addressing the statement President Trump made about ingesting cleaning supplies to clear your lungs.
"I'm gonna be there putting out the facts for whoever is listening, and when I hear things like the virus can be cured if everyone takes the tide pod challenge, I'll be there to say, please don't," said Pitt.
At the end, the segment takes a more serious turn. Pitt took off his wig and glasses to address the real Dr. Fauci.
"Thank you for your calm and your clarity in this unnerving time. Thank you to the medical workers, first responders, and their families, for being on the front line," said Pitt.
Pitt portraying Dr. Fauci is a wish come true for Fauci, as he was asked in an interview who he would like to see play him on the show, Ben Stiller or Brad Pitt. To that, Fauci answered " Oh, Brad Pitt of course."
Congratulations Dr. Fauci, your wish has come true.
10:10 a.m. -- Performance Running Outfitters teams up with Brooks Running to donate shoes to healthcare workers
Milwaukee's very own Performance Running Outfitters is teaming up with Brooks Running to donate shoes to healthcare workers in the area.
Brooks Running launched a new campaign amid the coronavirus pandemic called "Our Heroes Wear Scrubs." Now, Performance Running Outfitters is supporting that campaign by donating shoes.
For every $150 spent on Brooks shoes or apparel, Performance Running Outfitters will donate a pair of Brooks tennis shoes to a healthcare hero in our area.
In addition to the shoes, for every two pairs of Feeture Socks sold, the company will donate two pairs.
This promotion will run from April 27 through May 11, with a goal of donating 25,000 pairs of shoes.
If you are a healthcare worker, click here to enter your name and information to have a chance to win a pair of Brooks shoes or Feeture socks.
9:19 a.m. -- Nonprofit opens Illinois site to clean masks for Wisconsin hospitals amid pandemic
WAUKEGAN, Ill. (Chicago Tribune) — A biochemical research company has opened up a new site in Illinois to sterilize used N95 medical masks with hydrogen peroxide gas as the need for them has increased due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Chicago Tribune reports Columbus, Ohio-based Battelle started the cleaning process at the Waukegan sterilization facility this month.
The nonprofit’s CEO, Lewis Von Thaer, says the facility is intended to serve hospitals and first responders for free. Company officials say the site can clean as many as 80,000 masks daily.
Battelle says the Illinois site has been sterilizing masks for Advocate Aurora Health’s Illinois and Wisconsin hospitals.