Live coronavirus updates: Supreme Court postpones all Wisconsin jury trials until late May

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The Wisconsin National Guard is training to conduct mobile testing procedures and specimen collection for COVID-19. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Updates on coronavirus and how it’s affecting life in Wisconsin from reporters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the USA Today Network-Wisconsin.

Blog Recap: Thursday’s coronavirus updates

Daily Digest:  What you need to know about coronavirus in Wisconsin

More Coverage:  Coronavirus in the U.S. and around the world 

8:37 p.m.: Supreme Court postpones all Wisconsin jury trials until late May

The Wisconsin Supreme Court late Sunday ordered all jury trials statewide postponed until after May 22, following the lead of other states and several counties.

Continuing trials would present substantial health risks to all persons involved, from judges and jurors to witnesses and victims, the court found.

Two justices, Rebecca Bradley and Daniel Kelly, dissented from the order.

“The constitution does not countenance such an infringement” on the rights of citizens, Bradley wrote. “Emergency does not create power.”

If a public health emergency can justify a 60-delay in a defendant’s right to a speedy trial, Bradley writes, the freedom of speech, religion, press and gun ownership could also be subject to “suspension by judicial decree.”

The order finds that the health risks from the current COVID-19 pandemic constitute “good cause” for the temporary changes, even the suspension of jury trials.

“Indeed, failing to temporarily suspend jury trials in the courts of this state would create an unacceptable risk of a miscarriage of justice,” the order reads.

It also allows for circuit courts, or any parties appearing those trial courts, to seek an emergency exception to Sunday’s order.

A week or more ago, some of the circuit courts in the state’s largest counties announced they were taking immediate steps to curtail court activities requiring in-person contact, including postponing nearly all jury trials.

But some counties continued business as usual despite the daily worsening of the health crisis.

The Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers wrote to Chief Justice Patience Roggensack last week urging the high court to impose some consistent statewide restrictions.

In a separate, unanimous order, the high court also suspended all in-person court proceedings, including in appellate courts, through April 30, and required court officials to use email, phones and video conferencing. On a case-by-case basis, in-person appearance may be required for certain essential proceedings if no technological workaround is possible. 

The order specifies that parties and their lawyers can request a hearing on scheduling, which must be done telephonically or by video. Some lawyers had complained that some judges were insisting they appear in person last week for simple scheduling conferences. 

“This order is intended to be interpreted broadly for protection of the public, court staff and judges from the risks associated with COVID-19.”

— Bruce Vielmetti

8:15 p.m.: Milwaukee closes three early-voting sites 

One week after opening three early voting sites in the city of Milwaukee, officials are closing them because of concerns of spreading the coronavirus.

City of Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht issued the order Sunday night to immediately close three locations where people could vote in person before the April 7 primary.

Because of the risk of exposure to coronavirus to poll workers, early voting sites at these locations will not be open for the next two weeks as originally scheduled:

  • Zablocki Library, 3501 W. Oklahoma Ave.
  • Zeidler Municipal Building, 841 N Broadway
  • Midtown Center,  5700 W. Capitol Drive

On March 15, Albrecht, Mayor Tom Barrett and other officials encouraged people to vote by absentee ballot through the mail or in person at the early voting sites. Those sites were open Monday through Friday last week.

Related: How to get an absentee ballot in Wisconsin

“Given the city’s longstanding dedication to fair and equitable elections, the decision to end early voting in Milwaukee has been exceptionally difficult for all involved,” Albrecht said Sunday night in a release.

Milwaukee residents may still request an absentee ballot online at myvote.wi.gov or by calling 414-286-VOTE. Online voter registration will resume Tuesday.

6:51 p.m.: Governor suspends rules for required hours of instruction at state schools

The governor is suspending rules for the required number of instruction hours at state schools as well as rules that will allow student teachers to graduate on time this spring.

With all schools in the state closed for an unknown amount of time because of the coronavirus pandemic, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers’ action on Sunday suspends the amount of instructional time required for the school year. He also suspended licensing requirements to allow student teachers the ability to graduate.

Before he was elected governor in 2018, Evers was the state superintendent of schools in Wisconsin. Evers was also a schoolteacher, a principal and a district superintendent.

“As we continue to face challenges surrounding COVID-19 in Wisconsin, it’s critically important that school district administrators, educators, students, and parents have the peace of mind knowing we’re working to address concerns about hours of instruction, making sure our student teachers will graduate on time, and ensuring the department has flexibility as we move forward to do what’s best for our kids, educators, and schools across our state,” said Evers said in a release.

— Meg Jones

5:47 p.m.: Lenard Wells, longtime advocate for African Americans in MPD, died from coronavirus complications

Lenard Wells, who worked for decades to increase African American representation in all ranks of the Milwaukee Police Department and served as president of the League of Martin, has died.

The Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office confirmed Sunday it is investigating his death as complications of COVID-19. Wells, 69, died Saturday.

“Much of the progress in law enforcement by people of color and women can be attributed to the sheer force of his personality,” Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas said in a statement released Sunday.

“Lenny spoke truth to power in ways only few people could, and he even showed compassion for those who displayed little or no concern for others,” Lucas said. “He was a force to be reckoned with who kindled the fire in me and others to continue to persevere through the struggle and the storm.”

After his police career, Wells served on the Wisconsin Parole Commission. He has taught criminal justice at the University of Memphis since 2013.

“He was well known for his compassion and dedication to the impartation of knowledge and providing guidance to his students regarding their future careers and life,” wrote KB Turner, chairman of the Department of Criminology & Criminal Justice, in a message to staff and students.

“His untimely passing will leave an indelible void for some time to come. He will be sorely missed by his family, students and colleagues,” he said.

Many posted tributes on social media Sunday.

“He epitomized what it meant to be a public servant: serving in Milwaukee’s Police Department for 27 years and practicing compassionate, community-led policing,” Congresswoman Gwen Moore said in a tribute on Facebook.

“‪The Milwaukee community will miss his voice, and his passion, which all drove his deep commitment to building safer, stronger communities,” she said. “So proud to have called him a friend and a brother.”

The Journal Sentinel is preparing a full news obituary. To share memories or photos, please email aluthern@gannett.com.

—Ashley Luthern

5:10 p.m.: Evers issues order to keep utility services going for businesses, farms

Commercial and industrial businesses and farms in Wisconsin will not be disconnected from water, electric or natural gas services for unpaid bills under an order issued Sunday by Gov. Tony Evers.

“It is critically important to give people flexibility during this emergency, when paychecks might be disrupted, to keep the lights and heat on and water flowing,” Evers said in a news release. “We’re making sure that folks don’t have to make the critical choice between keeping their utilities on and paying for other essentials.”

Evers already had given a similar order for residential homes in the state.

Under the order, the Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities, also asked utility providers to stop assessing late fees for customer accounts, stop requiring deposits from customers to reconnect service and allow deferred payment agreements for all customers who request them.

“I want to thank the governor for his prompt action on this and our utility providers for their continued efforts to keep our homes and businesses supplied with light, heat, and water,” said Rebecca Cameron Valcq, the commission’s chairwoman.

“This is a difficult time for many,” she said. We’re asking that those who are able to pay their utility bills, please continue to do so. For those who can’t, today’s order allows them to remain connected.”

3:53 p.m.: National guard assists senior living facility in Grafton

A team of six Wisconsin National Guard medics were deployed to a Grafton senior living facility to help with a deadly coronavirus outbreak that has sickened several residents and staff.

Four Army and two Air Force medics arrived at Village Pointe Common late Saturday to help staff while the facility works out a long-term solution. The guardsmen are expected to be at the facility for three days, according to a Wisconsin National Guard spokesman.

Robert Blackbird, 91, died Thursday at Village Pointe Common and several other residents and one caregiver have also tested positive for coronavirus.

The National Guard medics are using their military-issued personal protective equipment because of a shortage of equipment such as masks, gloves and gowns used by civilian medical personnel. That will help preserve the limited supply of equipment for civilian health care workers.

Capt. Heather Schaller, a nurse assigned to the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s Medical Detachment in Camp Douglas is the officer in charge of the mission in Grafton. In her civilian job, she’s a nurse at a Milwaukee hospital.

“It’s cool that my job could give me up in order to do something like this and support the National Guard as well,” Schaller said in a release. “It’s rewarding, and it’s the reason why I put on the uniform, and why I joined the Guard.”

The medics are part of a group of around 300 guardsmen who volunteered to help with the coronavirus pandemic. While the soldiers and airmen prepare for the possibility of collecting specimens at mobile testing sites and transporting supplies or equipment, Wisconsin National Guard members have also driven Wisconsin residents returning home on two flights to Volk Field from quarantining on a cruise ship in California.

—Meg Jones

2:32 p.m.: Uline Inc. responds to New York Times story

Uline Inc. is pushing back against a national story suggesting the Wisconsin packaging company is one a few major businesses around the country declining to take important steps aimed at curbing the coronavirus. 

“Uline has been a leader in the nationwide fight to defeat the coronavirus,” Uline said in a lengthy statement Sunday. 

The New York Times reported Sunday that Pleasant Prairie-based company required its employees to report for work throughout the past week, including staffers working in cramped call centers.

The report said the manager at one call center sent a memo encouraging Uline employees to keep it to themselves if they were not feeling well. 

“If you, or family members, are under the weather with cold/allergies — or anything aside from Covid-19,” the memo said, “please do NOT tell your peers about the symptoms & your assumptions. By doing so, you are causing unnecessary panic in the office.”

Asked about the Times report, which was part of a bigger story on coronavirus deniers and disbelievers, a spokesman responded with a detailed statement describing the company’s role in helping to fight the virus.

The statement said all “non-essential workers” at Uline are working from home. Customer service and warehouse employees, it said, continue to fill orders, many of which are related to the global pandemic.

Uline is working closely with the federal government to respond to the emergency, the statement continued. At the direct request of the Trump administration, it said, Uline has made many overnight deliveries to pharmacies, health providers and hospitals. 

The goods being shipped include protective clothing, specimen bags, cleaning supplies, wipes, masks, and insulated shipping products. 

The major packaging and industrial supply company — which has opened multiple facilities in Kenosha County since moving its headquarters from Waukegan, Ill., to Pleasant Prairie in 2010 — is owned by Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein. 

The two are among the biggest GOP donors in the nation. In recent years, they have given tens of millions of dollars to various conservative groups, including a $10 million gift to Club for Growth this year, and to such Republican politicians as unsuccessful U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson of Wisconsin. 

Uline officials did not respond to questions about the Uihleins’ personal beliefs about the virus. 

Daniel Bice

2:13 p.m.: Wisconsin reports 381 confirmed cases of COVID-19

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is now reporting 381 cases of COVID-19 statewide and four deaths. Some 6,230 have tested negative. Milwaukee County, the most populous county, has the most confirmed cases at 182 with two deaths. More updates are expected this afternoon.

– John Diedrich

12:58 p.m.: Alverno College to donate protective gear, continue online classes for rest of semester

Alverno College will donate its supply of protective gear and face masks the school’s primary healthcare partner, Ascension.

The college’s JoAnn McGrath School of Nursing and Health Professions — one of the largest programs in the state of Wisconsin — is providing 30 gowns, 450 masks and nine cases of gloves.

The college also announced Sunday it will continue online classes until the end of the semester. No decision has been made about commencement, which is still scheduled for May 23.

School officials say they hope they will be able to have the ceremony, but are monitoring the situation and following guidelines from public health officials. 

– Ashley Luthern

11:44 a.m.: Domestic violence shelters, hotlines remain open

Advocates and providers serving domestic violence victims are sharing this message during the COVID-19 public health crisis: 

Local shelters remain open. Hotlines are staffed. Restraining orders are being granted. Help is still available.

“It’s important for us to remember that home isn’t always a safe place for everyone,” said Carmen Pitre, president and chief executive of the Sojourner Family Peace Center. 

Since last week, Sojourner has seen an increase in police referrals to the hotline as officers respond to domestic violence incidents in Milwaukee County, Pitre said. 

The Sojourner Family Peace Center in Milwaukee operates a 24-hour confidential hotline at (414) 933-2722. 

The Milwaukee Women’s Center also offers a hotline at (414) 671-6140 and its shelter remains open. The Asha Project provides a crisis line from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at (414) 252-0075.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached at (800) 799-7233 or by texting LOVEIS to 22522.

Read the full story here.

– Ashley Luthern

11:24 a.m.: State asks FEMA for help getting supplies for police, firefighters

Wisconsin officials are asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help the state obtain protective medical supplies for law enforcement officers and firefighters who risk direct exposure to COVID-19 while on duty.

The state has requested 50,000 non-surgical masks, 10,000 face shields, 11,000 coveralls, 3,000 N95 masks and 35,000 pairs of protective gloves, according to a Sunday news release

“We are asking FEMA to help us purchase valuable medical supplies that will be used to protect our first responders as they do the important work of keeping Wisconsin safe,” Gov. Tony Evers said in the release.

“It is our hope that the federal government can identify a source for these supplies as quickly as possible,” Evers said.

So far, Wisconsin has received about 52,000 N95 masks, 130,000 surgical masks, 25,000 face shields, 20,000 surgical gowns, 100 coveralls and 36,000 pairs gloves from the Strategic National Stockpile.

Public safety agencies across the state, including the Milwaukee Police Department, have made public appeals for donations of such equipment, too.  

– Ashley Luthern

10:46 a.m.: Milwaukee County reports 39 new cases of coronavirus.

Milwaukee County had 165 cases of coronavirus as of Sunday morning, adding 39 new cases from Saturday. Wisconsin now has 320 cases of coronavirus, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and local agencies. 

– Jordyn Noennig

SATURDAY, MARCH 21

8:52 p.m.: Wauwatosa senior living center resident tests positive

A resident of a senior living center in Wauwatosa has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The patient, an 89-year-old woman who is a resident of the long-term care facility at Luther Manor, remains hospitalized and is showing mild symptoms, according to a press release.

As of Saturday evening, there are no other positive cases for the virus on campus, the release said. Luther Manor is home to about 600 seniors, according to its website.

The release said staff are required to wear masks for the next 14 days and will be assessed for symptoms as the enter and leave work daily, among other precautions.

– Elliot Hughes

8:23 p.m.: Froedtert hospitals preparing tent triage centers

Three Froedtert Health hospitals will introduce tent triage centers to help separate coronavirus patients next week.

Beginning March 23, the triage centers will be used at Froedtert Hospital, Froedtert Menomonee Falls Hospital and Froedtert West Bend Hospital, according to spokesperson Steve Schoof.

The tents will be used to house coronavirus patients in order to prevent the spread of the virus among other emergency department patients, Schoof said. The tents will not be used for walk-up testing.

As of 7:30 p.m., Milwaukee County reported 126 cases of coronavirus. Waukesha and Washington counties reported 20 and three, respectively, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

– Elliot Hughes

7:20 p.m.: Evers requests resources from FEMA to protect first-responders

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers is asking the Federal Emergency Management Agency to assist the state in obtaining protective medical supplies for law enforcement and firefighters at risk of exposure to the coronavirus.

Wisconsin is asking for help obtaining 50,000 non-surgical masks, 10,000 face shields, 11,00 coveralls, 3,000 face masks, and 35,000 pairs of gloves, according to a press release.

“We recognize that this equipment is in high demand, and we thank our first responders for their patience as we work to identify additional sources of personal protective equipment,” Dr. Darrell Williams, the administrator of Wisconsin Emergency Management, said in a statement.

The request comes in addition to state’s efforts to receive similar equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile for medical professionals in areas with known community spread of the virus.

So far, Wisconsin has received about 52,000 face masks, 130,000 surgical masks, 25,000 face shields, 20,000 surgical gowns, 100 coveralls, and 36,000 pairs of gloves from the stockpile, the release said.

– Elliot Hughes

7:01 p.m.: Long-term care facilities in Washington, Ozaukee counties on lockdown

All long-term care facilities in Washington and Ozaukee counties have been ordered to lock down after one such facility has seen its own outbreak of the coronavirus.

The Washington-Ozaukee Public Health Department issued the order Saturday, stipulating that visitor access to such facilities would be restricted, save for certain scenarios like an end-of-life situation.

At least three residents and one caregiver at a Grafton facility, Village Pointe Commons, have tested positive for the virus. They were tested after another resident, a 91-year-old man, died Thursday.

The man tested positive for coronavirus after his death.

Village Pointe Commons is now being partially staffed with a medical unit from the National Guard, according to Bailey Murph, a spokesperson for the health department.

The order issued Saturday also stipulates additional safety measures for staff at long-term care facilities to mitigate the spread of the virus, which has proven to be more dangerous towards elderly populations and those with compromised immune systems.

– Elliot Hughes

4:58 p.m.: State unemployment claims continue skyrocketing

Nearly 63,000 Wisconsinites filed unemployment claims this week after the coronavirus outbreak forced scores of bars, restaurants and other businesses to temporarily close.

From Sunday through Friday, a total of 62,828 claims were filed, according to preliminary figures by the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development.

That’s 12 times the number of claims the state received during the same time period in 2019, when 5,190 claims were filed.

About 15,000 claims have been filed every day since Wednesday, according to the data.

– Elliot Hughes 

3:55 p.m.: Family of Fond du Lac man who died from COVID-19 speaks

The family of a 55-year-old Fond du Lac man who died from coronavirus has asked that people take COVID-19 seriously, but not panic, and has appealed for compassion and understanding.

Dale Joseph Witkowski contracted the virus while in Egypt with one of his sisters. He celebrated his 55th birthday there Feb. 25th and died Thursday at St. Agnes Hospital in Fond du Lac.

“We ask you to be serious about COVID-19. Please do not panic, rather educate yourself and your family. Please do not blame or shun, rather be supportive and compassionate, especially with the people who have tested positive for this virus,” his family wrote in an online obituary.

“We responded too slowly as a country and now we are seeing devastating effects in our country, state and community, and for us, our family. Knowledge and mindful, safe practices are what is needed now,” they added.

Witkowski worked for many years at outboard engine maker at Mercury Marine where he was manager of MercNET product protection and warranty service.

“His work at Merc was very important to him and he was passionate about the company, its product and its history,” his family said.

While the family said they will honor and celebrate Dale, there will not be a funeral service at this time due to the COVID-19 crisis. Instead, they plan to schedule a service this summer.

“Dale deeply respected and appreciated those who serve our country in the military, protective services and as first responders. … Remember Dale as you knew him, larger than life, a big teddy bear of a man with a gift for laughter and hugging and a caring heart that knew no limits,” they wrote.

The family has asked that they be allowed to grieve in private. Online condolences may be shared at Zacherl Funeral Home.com.

– Rick Barrett

3:25 p.m.: Molson Coors pledges $1 million for relief fund for bartenders

Molson Coors Beverage Co. announced it will pledge $1 million to United States Bartenders’ Guild, a nonprofit that supports bartenders and other service industry professionals, after millions have fallen out of work during the coronavirus outbreak.

Miller Lite is also encouraging members of the public to offer their support by contributing to the USBG National Charity Foundation’s Bartender Emergency Assistance Program, a relief campaign that aids bartenders and other service professionals.

USBG is offering emergency grants to anyone who serves alcoholic beverages at bars, taverns and restaurants that hold full liquor licenses nationwide, according to a news release.

– Elliot Hughes

2:15 p.m.: State delays tax deadline to July 

Wisconsin’s Department of Revenue, like the federal government, is extending the income tax filing deadline to July 15.

State law automatically extends deadlines and waives interest and penalties for taxpayers due to a presidentially declared disaster, according to the department.

“This is just one more thing we can do for Wisconsinites during this challenging time,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement.

Tax filers do not have to file any extension forms and there is no limit on the amount of payment to be postponed, nor income exclusions, according to the department. The extension applies to individuals, trusts, estates, partnerships, associations and companies or corporations.

DOR Secretary Peter Barca said roughly half of Wisconsin taxpayers have already filed their tax returns.

– Molly Beck

1:59 p.m.: 281 have tested positive for the virus in Wisconsin, state says

Nearly 300 people have now tested positive for coronavirus and four people have died after contracting it, according to newly released data from the state Department of Health Services.

About 6% of the total number of people who have been tested for coronavirus are positive, according to the latest batch of test results released Saturday by the health department.

Among the 281 people who tested positive, nearly half live in Milwaukee County. Dane County has 49 positive cases of the virus and Waukesha County has 20 cases.

Four people have died after contracting the virus: two in Milwaukee County, one in Fond du Lac County and one in Ozaukee County.

DHS Secretary Andrea Palm on Friday in a call with reporters warned of more deaths to come.

– Molly Beck

1:09 p.m.: Wisconsin farmers to feel the pain as ethanol plants slash production

Wisconsin ethanol producers and grain farmers are feeling the pain from coronavirus as plummeting demand for gasoline reduces the need for the fuel additive made from corn.

Last week, oil prices hit an 18-year low of $20 a barrel.

Analysts say it’s only a matter of time before ethanol plants slash production or close. And it will affect grain farmers since 40% of the U.S. corn crop goes to make the fuel additive.

 “This is crushing refineries and ethanol producers,” said Alex Breitinger with Breitinger & Sons, a commodities futures brokerage firm based in Indiana.

– Rick Barrett

12:47 p.m.: New child-care launch targets health care, emergency workers

A coalition of partners, including the YMCA of Greater Milwaukee, the Milwaukee Health Department, local health care providers and others are launching a new initiative to provide child-care services for emergency responders and essential medical personnel, the YMCA said Saturday.

Details of the program, which if successful could be replicated statewide, will be announced at a news conference at 11 a.m. Monday.

A spokesman for the YMCA said a pilot center would be set up at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center at 2900 W. Oklahoma Ave. in Milwaukee, and other area sites are in the works. He said the groups are coordinating with state officials to ensure they comply with new restrictions imposed last week that limit child care centers to 10 adults and 50 children.

Other partners include Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin, Rogers Behavioral Health and Milwaukee city and county emergency agencies.

– Annysa Johnson

12:30 p.m.: Sub-Zero, Wolf appliance plants start layoffs

One of the largest Wisconsin manufacturing plant layoffs from coronavirus is scheduled to take place starting Sunday, involving more than 1,040 workers at the Sub-Zero and Wolf appliance plants in Fitchburg.

Most of the affected employees are expected to be called back to work in mid-April, Sub-Zero, a manufacturer of refrigerators and freezers, said in a statement. “Some employees are anticipated to not be recalled,” it said.

The two plants will be temporarily closed, according to the company.

“These 2020 business circumstances were not foreseeable, but we must react in a way that is designed to balance our duty to protect the health of our workforce as much as possible, minimize the spread of COVID-19 across our communities, and respond to the reality that demand for production has gone down and is forecast to remain down,” the company said.

– Rick Barrett

12:25 p.m.: Lucky Liu’s temporarily closes after verbal attacks

Lucky Liu’s Chinese/sushi restaurant on Milwaukee’s lower east side said it is closing for safety reasons after staff members were verbally attacked.

In a post on its Facebook page, it said: “Since the COVID-19 crisis is spreading intensively around Milwaukee along with the racial tensions we are experiencing ever since then, we have encountered more xenophobic and verbal attacks toward our committed staff members. For the safety and well-being of our staffs, our team has come to a difficult decision in closing the business temporarily until further notice. Thank you for understanding and we hope that everyone will rise out of the pandemic strong. Stay safe and healthy.”

A state mandate has shut down all restaurants except for takeout and delivery.

— Carol Deptolla

12:16 p.m.: GE, union agree to emergency contract to build ventilators in Madison

Addressing an urgent need to produce ventilators in the fight against coronavirus, the International Association of Machinists union has agreed to an emergency contract extension to manufacture as many ventilators as possible in the next 90 days at the GE Datex-Ohmeda plant in Madison.

The plant employs more than 340 machinists who build anesthesia, respiratory and infant-care machines and are now working day and night to meet the sudden demand for ventilators.

The union and GE management had scheduled contract negotiations beginning next month but instead agreed to the emergency one-year extension of the current agreement which was to expire in June.

“This extension allows the company and union to work together to produce lifesaving equipment that will be used around the world. Both union members and salaried workers will be working on the shop floor side-by-side in order to meet the unprecedented demands of this crisis,” said Joe Terlisner, District 10 Business Representative for the union.

— Rick Barrett

11:15 a.m.: Oak Creek Woodman’s initially limits number of customers allowed in store

Employees at Woodman’s Market in Oak Creek were only letting 10 people in at a time to limit the number of people in the store early Saturday morning. The line was at roughly 100 customers, but those at the front said they had only been waiting less than 10 minutes and the line was moving fast.

But about 11:15 a.m., the line was gone. Customers were allowed to enter the store.

Signs were posted on doors saying the store will be closing at 9 p.m. to restock for the next day. There were also signs with a list of items that were limited to one per customer.

At Sam’s Club in Franklin, the line for the self-checkout reached almost to the back of the store. Sam’s Club was able to restock on bottled water, but paper towels and toilet paper were gone.

Most of the employees at Sam’s Club wore rubber or plastic gloves. The same could be said of employees at Walmart next door.

The Walmart in Franklin had a hand sanitizer dispenser at the main entrance that had been working all week. By Saturday morning, the only thing it was dispensing was air. It was completely out of sanitizer.

Walmart was also out of bottled water, paper towels and toilet paper. Many shelves in the grocery store and pharmacy were barren from the run the store absorbed last weekend.

At each store, there were a few customers that wore gloves or masks, and sometimes both.

At the Grafton Costco, shoppers were urged to practice social distancing, cover their coughs and let associates manage “member flow” into the store. The store had a steady stream of customers who were stocking up for on a variety of items but especially paper products. The store had had a stock of toilet paper for a brief time Saturday, an associate said, but it quickly sold out. Associates were wiping down carts for shoppers to use.

At the Salvation Army Family Store and Donation Center on 27th Street and College Avenue, the parking lot was closed off but that didn’t stop people from leaving donations. Dozens of bags of donated items lined the entrance to the parking lot. 

— Ricardo Torres and David D. Haynes

10:28 a.m.: Wisconsin’s U.S. senators adjust to the new normal in Washington

With the House in recess, it’s the U.S. Senate that is experiencing the new realities of congressional working life in Washington amid the coronavirus crisis.

Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin spoke with a reporter by phone Thursday from her D.C. apartment, which now doubles as her D.C. office, since neither she nor her staff are operating out of their Senate work spaces.  

“I am sheltering in place,” said Baldwin.

“We’re all tele-working now, so my life is a series of conference calls,” she said, including for the first time this week, virtual (phone-in) caucuses of Senate Democrats, which she described as “quite orderly.”

Ron Johnson spoke with a reporter by phone earlier this past week from his Senate office, in the company of only his chief of staff, since his aides are also working from home. Johnson described the Capitol as a “ghost town.”    

Roll call votes are being conducted over a longer period of time, so smaller numbers of senators are occupying the chamber at any one time. Baldwin said there is a placard in the chamber asking members to exercise their responsibility to socially distance.

“I think we’re all adapting, as best we can, to recognizing the responsibility to keep on serving our constituents under very new circumstances.”  

With both parties trying to hammer out a massive stimulus package, senators are convening over the weekend in the hopes of passing legislation early this coming week.

— Craig Gilbert

10:20 a.m.: Low-interest disaster loans available for Wisconsin businesses

Small businesses in Wisconsin affected by the coronavirus pandemic will have access to low-interest federal disaster loans, Gov. Tony Evers’ office announced Saturday.

Evers’ office said the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved his administration’s request to make the loans available in Wisconsin. But it said processing of the loans could be delayed because of the likely deluge of requests.

“This is very good news for Wisconsin businesses that have already suffered financial losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” Evers said in a statement.

“With the SBA loans now available to our state, small businesses and their employees have a little more certainty over their financial futures.”

Under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, businesses and nonprofits may qualify for up to $2 million in loans to cover losses resulting from the pandemic, according to the state. The interest rates are 3.75% for for-profit businesses and 2.75% for nonprofits, and payments can be extended to 30 years.

Applicants can get started at www.sba.gov/disaster. The Wisconsin Small Business Development Network and its partners also are helping small businesses apply for federal disaster loans. It has created a web page, and consultants are available across 13 locations by phone and online to help applicants navigate the process.

— Annysa Johnson 

8:31 a.m.: Milwaukee County cases up to 109, according to county

As of Saturday morning, the number of coronavirus cases in Milwaukee County has risen to 109, according to an online dashboard published by the county.

The majority of those, 78, are in the city of Milwaukee. Six are reported in Oak Creek and Whitefish Bay, five in West Allis and Shorewood, Two in Wauwatosa, Glendale and Greenfield; and one each in Hales Corners, Fox Point and Franklin.

— Annysa Johnson

8:18 a.m.: Medical Examiner’s Office reports second coronavirus death

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating the death Saturday of a 69-year-old man from complications related to the coronavirus, the agency said. 

It was the fourth coronavirus death in Wisconsin and the second in Milwaukee County. 

The man had been hospitalized for several days before he died.

An official with the medical examiner’s office said the man was not from Wisconsin but has family in the area. 

The official said the man had several major health issues and came to a hospital for shortness of breath on March 14. He was then tested for COVID-19 and the test results were positive.

— Annysa Johnson and Ricardo Torres

FRIDAY, MARCH 20

10:14 p.m.: Evers announces federal OK of loans for small businesses

Gov. Tony Evers announced Friday that the U.S. Small Business Administration has approved Wisconsin’s request for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to access low-interest federal disaster loans.

“This is very good news for Wisconsin businesses that have already suffered financial losses due to the COVID-19 outbreak,” he said. “With the SBA loans now available to our state, small businesses and their employees have a little more certainty over their financial futures. This is another step in providing much-needed assistance to Wisconsin’s small businesses.”

With unprecedented demand for the loans nationwide, processing of the applications may be delayed. 

10:10 p.m.: Judge revives Wisconsin’s online voter registration

A federal judge reinstated Wisconsin’s online voter registration system late Friday to help people find ways to participate in the April 7 presidential election.

Wisconsin stopped allowing people to use the state’s online voter registration system Wednesday in accordance with a state law that limits online registration just ahead of an election. But U.S. District Judge William Conley ruled that the online portal must be put back in place because of the coronavirus outbreak that has disrupted everyday activities around the globe.

7:30 p.m.: Milwaukee bus driver tests positive

Milwaukee County Transit System officials confirmed Friday that a bus driver tested positive for coronavirus.

“We cooperated with the Milwaukee Health Department to identify other bus operators that may have shared a bus with that individual,” said Dan Boehm, director of MCTS. “Meaning that operator drove for eight hours, pulled the bus over and somebody else got in.”

Boehm said the Milwaukee County Health Department is not concerned about passengers contracting the virus because of a Plexiglas security shield that separates drivers and passengers.

Read more here.

— Ricardo Torres

6:45 p.m.: Milwaukee police ask for donations of medical supplies

The Milwaukee Police Department is asking for donations of N-95 masks, coverall safety suits, isolation gowns, goggles, hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for officers.

“Each day our officers respond to thousands of calls for service which significantly exposes them to contracting this virus,” Chief Alfonso Morales said in a video released Friday by the department.

“We have taken an oath to protect and serve and we take that oath very seriously,” he said. “We will not run or hide but we’ll be there with you every step of the way.”

The department ordered a “surplus” of protective equipment last week, but shipments likely will not arrive for several months, Morales said, adding he wanted officers to have the protection they need to continue protecting city residents.

Anyone willing to donate supplies is asked to email supportmpd@milwaukee.gov.

— Ashley Luthern

5:50 p.m.: UW-Eau Claire student tests positive after studying abroad

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt told the campus Friday that a study abroad student tested positive for the coronavirus.

The student is now “is in self-isolation and doing well at home with family.” The university has contacted two other students who were in contact with the student who tested positive. Both are also in self-isolation at home.

None of the three students came to Eau Claire County after coming back from studying abroad and they did not come into contact with anyone else from campus, Schmidt said.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread across Wisconsin and more people are tested, we realize there is a chance other Blugolds may be affected by this virus,” Schmidt said in a message to campus. “Please know that we are here to support everyone in our community, our students, faculty, staff and alumni. We will get through this together.”

— Devi Shastri

5:45 p.m.: Officials urge public to report coronavirus fraud

Federal prosecutors on Friday urged the public to report any suspected fraud related to the COVID-19 crisis.

“Anyone trying to exploit this national emergency for private gain should know that they will be pursued,” said Matthew Krueger, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin.

He appointed Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly Watzka to coordinate anti-fraud efforts.

Krueger said people with concerns should call the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) hotline, (866) 720-5721, or email NCDF at disaster@leo.gov.

Some examples of what prosecutors expect include: Sales of fake cures, phishing e-mails from entities posing as legitimate public health groups like the CDC or World Health Organization, solicitations for illegitimate charities and malware or ransomware that appears to provide COVID-19 information. The NCDF coordinates complaints with 16 federal agencies, state attorneys general and local authorities. For more information, visit www.justice.gov/coronavirus.

— Bruce Vielmetti

5:30 p.m. All barbers, salons, tattoo parlors now closed

Gov. Tony Evers issued an order that barbers, day spas, nail salons, tanning facilities and tattoo parlors would have to close at 5 p.m. Friday.

Evers’ orders on barbers, nail salons and tattoo parlors follow measures to shutter schools, limit capacity at day cares, ban dine-in customers at restaurants and bars, and cap gatherings at 10 people.

— Madeline Heim

5 p.m.: Three residents and caregiver at Grafton senior living facility test positive after resident’s death

Public health officials are battling a coronavirus outbreak at a Grafton senior living facility. 

Three residents and a caregiver at Village Pointe Commons, 101 Walnut Circle, have tested positive for coronavirus following the death of a man in the memory care unit on Thursday.

The man had underlying health symptoms; after his death, he tested positive for coronavirus.

“This was unexpected for his family, and our hearts go out to them,” said Kirsten Johnson, director of the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department.

Three other residents in the memory care unit have since tested positive for the virus. The health department was waiting for additional test results as of Friday.

One caregiver also tested positive for coronavirus. The caregiver is isolated at home and has not worked in the facility since March 14.

The Health Department said it was working with Village Pointe Commons to ensure people who were exposed are isolated and monitored for symptoms. 

Johnson said the health department does not have evidence of community transmission outside of Village Pointe Commons. She urged people to stay home and practice social distancing to prevent the virus from spreading.

“We need to protect our aging population and the most vulnerable,” Johnson said. “The best way for us to do this is by staying home.”

Read more here.

— Jeff Rumage

4:50 p.m.: UWM cancels commencement ceremonies, closes dorms with exceptions

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee canceled its commencement ceremony, scheduled for May 11, citing Gov. Tony Evers’ ban on gatherings of more than 10 people. 

“We know how profoundly disappointing this is for those graduating, as well as families, supporters and friends,” Chancellor Mark Mone wrote. “These decisions are not made lightly, but with the best interests of our campus communities and our students’ families and loved ones in mind, especially since many people would make travel plans to attend. We appreciate your understanding of this difficult decision.”

The university also announced it would close its dorms with the exception of students who have no where else to go. More details on the move-out process were to be sent to students Friday.

UWM, along with all other UW System schools, will provide prorated reimbursements for the cost of housing and food for students who leave. The university will also extend the spring 2020 bill payment deadline and will not assess late fees or interest on bills from March 20 to June 2. 

—  Devi Shastri

4:45 p.m.: Messmer employee tests positive

An employee at Messmer St. Mary, a Catholic voucher school in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood, has tested positive for the coronavirus, Messmer President Jim Piatt confirmed Friday.

Piatt said the school alerted parents Wednesday, hours after learning the individual had tested positive. It said the employee was at home on self-quarantine. 

Piatt declined to provide any information about the individual, including the person’s age or job, citing health care privacy laws. He said the individual has not been in the building since March 12 and that he has received no reports of other cases. He said families were provided information from the health department on how to minimize the spread of the virus and what symptoms to look for.

Piatt said the school, which serves about 425 students, was just wrapping up its regularly scheduled spring break and would begin meal distributions on Monday and academic packets starting on March 30.

— Annysa Johnson

4:40 p.m.: Milwaukee County counts 95 confirmed cases

Milwaukee County had 95 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Friday afternoon, according to an online dashboard. It was up from 64 cases Thursday afternoon.

The new total includes 67 cases in the city of Milwaukee; six in Whitefish Bay; five each in Shorewood, Oak Creek and West Allis; two each in Glendale and Wauwatosa; and one each in Greenfield, Hales Corners and Franklin.

One Milwaukee County resident, a 66-year-old man, has died from the virus.

4:35 p.m.: Legal group asks state to halt all evictions

The state Supreme Court should order an immediate halt to all eviction proceedings statewide, Legal Action of Wisconsin said in a letter sent to the justices Friday.

“This Court has the power to help flatten the curve of COVID-19 infections by halting evictions, and it should do so without delay,” Deedee Peterson, the nonprofit’s executive, told the justices in the two-page letter.

The letter from the agency that provides legal services to low-income people comes three days after Peterson urged circuit courts in the 39 counties in its services area to stop serving eviction orders in their counties.

The new letter asks for a similar prohibition statewide as well as an order banning the courts from “otherwise allowing eviction actions to move forward.”

“Some counties have suspended eviction proceedings and stopped executing writs,” Peterson wrote. “Many counties, however, continue to allow evictions to proceed. This county-based approach puts lives at risk simply because of where they live.”

Read more here.

— Cary Spivak

4:25 p.m.: NEWaukee launches virtual networking events

NEWaukee, a Milwaukee company best known for holding large community events like the city’s summertime night market, is launching a new series of virtual events. 

The Cloud Cafe is a series of initiatives for Milwaukeeans to connect. NEWaukee has started a Slack channel and will host virtual meetups and other events. 

“It is vital for us to physically distance ourselves from one another at this time and do our part to flatten the curve,” NEWaukee wrote in a news release. “But that doesn’t mean we need to forget about our social health and wellbeing.”

— Sarah Hauer

4:15 p.m.: Philanthropic coalition raises $1.2 million

Several Milwaukee-area organizations have come together, raising $1.2 million to help coordinate resources for the community during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bader Philanthropies, Brewers Community Foundation, Greater Milwaukee Committee, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Herb Kohl Philanthropies, Milwaukee Public Schools, Northwestern Mutual Foundation and the United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County are just a few of the community partners that are part of the coalition.

The organizations are prioritizing food, housing and shelter and medical needs.

They are asking those who want to help to donate to the MKE Responds Fund at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, COVID-19 Urgent Needs Fund at United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County and other local agencies.

— Talis Shelbourne

4 p.m.: Wisconsin Center expansion delayed

A bond sale set for next month to finance the Wisconsin Center expansion has been delayed indefinitely because of financial turmoil tied to the coronavirus pandemic.

The downtown Milwaukee convention facility plans to double its space with the expansion, which could cost up to $425 million.

Along with needing demand from investors interested in buying the bonds — so the center district can borrow up to $425 million — the project also needs to see a rebound in the travel, restaurant and hotel industries, which pandemic concerns have virtually shut down.

That’s because the center district finances its operations with taxes on Milwaukee County hotel rooms, restaurant and bar tabs, and car rentals.

That center district relies on those tax revenues to make payments on its debt, including the 40-year bond debt that would be tied to the expansion.

So, the bond sales won’t occur until those industries are back on their feet, said Marty Brooks, center district president and chief executive officer.

Read more here.

— Tom Daykin

3:50 p.m.: Milwaukee County dedicates certain ambulances to COVID-19

Milwaukee County is seeing a “slight uptick” in overall 911 calls and ambulance transports in recent days as COVID-19 cases increase, but other calls for service appear to be decreasing, according to Ben Weston, who oversees the county’s paramedic services.

The county has designated a couple of ambulances to handle suspected COVID cases to limit exposure to paramedics and ambulance vehicles, which need to be cleaned afterward. The concern is to protect against the system being overwhelmed and unable to handle medical emergencies, Weston told the Journal Sentinel Friday.

“We need to be ready to continue to provide that day in, day out rapid response to people in need for these life-threatening conditions that are going to happen,” said Weston, who also is an emergency medicine doctor at Froedtert Hospital. “COVID is here no doubt but heart attacks are here, strokes are here, serious car crashes are here. Those are all still happening.”

Weston said people who have been exposed to COVID but are not showing symptoms should not be tested. He said there have been cases of false negatives where people who actually did have COVID but their “viral load” was not high enough to trigger a positive. Conversely, there have been false positives too, causing unnecessary concern for people who actually don’t have COVID.

Weston said the people who are young and healthy but showing mild symptoms also should not be tested but stay at home to recover.

“What would you normally do with mild flu-like symptoms? Normally you would call into work, sit home, watch a movie. Instead now people are worried about this. The natural reaction is, ‘Oh my gosh, I have COVID, I need to get to the emergency department.’

“With this going on people are scared and it is understandable. This is new. This is unknown.” 

At this time, it is important to remind people that the 911 system and hospitals are reserved for emergencies and the sickest patients, Weston said.

— John Diedrich

3:45 p.m.: Unemployment claims continue to pour in

More than 45,700 new unemployment claims have been filed in Wisconsin this week as the coronavirus pandemic shut down daily life, according to preliminary data from the state’s Department of Workforce Development.

More than 16,200 people filed new unemployment claims in the state just on Thursday. The numbers of new claims have steadily increased all week as bars, restaurants, malls and other businesses were forced to close in a social-distancing effort to slow the spread of the new disease. 

The 16,200 new claims filed Thursday are more than three times as many were filed in the entire previous week. These are preliminary numbers and subject to change.

Read more here.

— Sarah Hauer

3:30 p.m.: Wisconsin cases surpass 200, Evers asks people to leave home only if necessary

Wisconsin’s total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus was up to 206 on Friday afternoon, up from 155 on Thursday. 

Since Thursday’s update, the state also saw its first three deaths from the virus: a man in his 50s from Fond du Lac County, a man in his 90s from Ozaukee County and a person from Milwaukee County. 

Gov. Tony Evers urged people to “only leave your home if it is absolutely necessary,” but stopped short of issuing a shelter-in-place order, as governors have in Illinois and California. He said he thought Wisconsin could avoid doing so.

Brown, Dane, Milwaukee, Kenosha, Columbia and Walworth counties have now had documented instances of community transmission.

Read more here.

— Madeline Heim

3 p.m.: Wisconsin students may not take standardized tests

Wisconsin students may get a reprieve from the annual Forward Exams this spring after U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Friday that her agency would not be enforcing the mandate on assessments as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

DeVos said in a statement that her office would grant a waiver to any state unable to assess its students due to the ongoing national emergency. 

Wisconsin’s Department of Public Instruction said Tuesday that it was “aggressively pursuing” such a waiver. DPI spokesman Chris Bucher said the agency was in the process of submitting waivers related to student assessments, report cards and other federal requirements and that it would keep local districts apprised of any new development.

“This is obviously a fluid situation with many factors and states involved,” he said.

In announcing the decision, DeVos said, students would be unlikely to be able to perform their best in the current environment.

“Students need to be focused on staying healthy and continuing to learn. Teachers need to be able to focus on remote learning and other adaptations. Neither students nor teachers need to be focused on high-stakes tests during this difficult time,” she said.

– Annysa Johnson

12:05 p.m.: Wisconsin clerks are running out of ballot envelopes as absentee voting surges

Wisconsin is running out of the envelopes used for absentee ballots as municipal clerks face a surge of requests to vote by mail in next month’s election because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission estimates clerks are short about 600,000 envelopes for the fast-approaching election. A million envelopes are on their way so clerks can overcome the issue, according to the commission.   

Clerks are dealing with the issue because absentee voting is skyrocketing as the world wrestles with the pandemic. Health officials have advised people to work from home and Gov. Tony Evers has closed schools, bars and malls to curb the spread of the disease. He has banned gatherings of 10 people or more, though that edict does not apply to polling place.

Read more here.

– Patrick Marley and Craig Gilbert

10:59 a.m.: Baldwin, Democrats criticize McConnell stimulus plan as doing too little for workers

WASHINGTON – As the two parties prepared to sit down to negotiate a massive coronavirus stimulus plan, Democrats argued the GOP plan outlined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does too little for affected workers.

“This proposal falls far short of what workers, families, small businesses and our health care system need in direct economic support to get through this crisis,” said Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

McConnell’s plan, regarded as an opening offer ahead of talks with the House and the administration, would give individual taxpayers up to $1,200 with additional payments of $500 per child. Lower-income adults who paid no taxes in 2018 would receive smaller payments. Individuals who made more than $99,000 won’t be eligible.  The plan also defers tax payments for businesses and individuals.

Baldwin is among at least 18 Democrats backing a plan that would send much larger payments — checks of up to $4,500 this year — to individual Americans. The first payment, of $2,000, would go out this month. Additional payments of $1,500 and $1,000 would go out in subsequent quarters of the year, if certain “triggers” are met, such as an increase in unemployment.

The payments would be phased out for higher-income Americans.

Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson has not yet weighed in on the McConnell plan.

– Craig Gilbert

10:25 a.m.: Lawyers say a patchwork of court procedures poses risk

While courts in Wisconsin’s largest counties moved last weekend or sooner to cancel, postpone or limit in-person events, others changed little or adopted a patchwork of differing approaches.

Criminal defense lawyers say that has put them and some clients at unnecessary risk for exposure to or spreading of the COVID-19 virus, and have asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court and Director of State Courts to impose consistent, statewide procedures for all circuit courts, as many other states’ Supreme Courts have done.

“The absence of a coherent common statewide set of procedures is dangerous,” reads a letter from the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

“The lack of such furthers the potential spread of the coronavirus, potentially and needlessly exposing judges, clerks, bailiffs, prosecutors, court reporters, defense attorneys, defendants, jurors and witnesses,” reads the letter, addressed to Chief Justice Patience Roggensack and Director of State Court Randy Koshnick.

WACDL says most of its members work in multiple counties, often on the same day.

One unnamed judge, according to the letter, responded to a lawyer’s concerns that COVID-19 “is no worse than the flu,” and insisted lawyers come to court in person.

It’s not only defense lawyers who have concerns concern.  Portage County District Attorney Louis Molepske, president of the state’s DA association, told Wisconsin Public Radio that the “lack of a clear directive from the director of state courts” has been a big challenge for prosecutors.

The state court system on March 11 announced it was monitoring the situation.

— Bruce Vielmetti

9:33 a.m.: AmFam, gener8tor to offer emergency program for small businesses

The venture capital arm of American Family Insurance and Milwaukee-based startup accelerator gener8tor are partnering to offer free one-week emergency programs for small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Small businesses will be helped to identify, understand and secure resources to withstand the pandemic. The program from the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact and gener8tor will start March 30. 

Businesses will receive one-on-one consultation during the program and daily lunchtime webinars. 

Businesses can register for the virtual program online at gener8tor.com/emergency-response-program/wisconsin. The deadline is March 25. All Wisconsin-based businesses will be included.

March 20, 8:02 a.m.: Medical examiner investigating Milwaukee’s first virus-related death

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating what would be Milwaukee’s first death related to the coronavirus.

The office Tweeted early Friday that the victim was a 66-year-old Milwaukee man who was hospitalized for several days prior to this death.

The man was diagnosed with the virus, but also had other health conditions and his cause of death is being listed as complications from coronavirus.

There were 88 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Milwaukee County as of Friday morning, according to online data. That includes 63 cases in the City of Milwaukee, the data shows.

– Elliot Hughes and Mary Spicuzza

8 p.m.: Barrett in self-quarantine

Mayor Tom Barrett will be going into a 14 day self-quarantine after he came in contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

“I am following best practices by self-isolating,” Barrett said late Thursday. “In an effort to maintain social distancing the last several days, I have been continuing my duties and responsibilities by teleconference and videoconference and I expect to do the same during this time of self-quarantine.”

Barrett came into contact last Friday with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus.

He participated in a virtual news conference at 4 p.m. Thursday with Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik and others after being absent from an in-person news conference Wednesday at the Milwaukee County Courthouse.

— Ashley Luthern and Mary Spicuzza

7:11 p.m.: Wisconsin sees first two deaths due to coronavirus

A man in his 50s from Fond du Lac County and a man in his 90s from Ozaukee County both have died from COVID-19, Gov. Tony Evers announced Thursday.

Out of the 155 cases confirmed as of Thursday afternoon, these are the first two deaths. Confirmed cases of coronavirus have been reported in 21 Wisconsin counties. The state’s daily total of confirmed cases grew by 49 to 155 on Thursday.

Read more here.

— Natalie Brophy

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