Updates on coronavirus and how it’s affecting life in Wisconsin from reporters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the USA Today Network-Wisconsin.
Daily Digest: What you need to know about coronavirus in Wisconsin
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10:19 p.m.: Milwaukee stay-at-home order includes broad exemptions
The city of Milwaukee finally issued its planned stay-at-home order late Monday, just three hours before it was to take effect.
The eight-page order, announced by Mayor Tom Barrett and Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik earlier in the day, requires all Milwaukee residents to stay home and for all but essential businesses to close.
However, it includes numerous exemptions that allow people to leave their homes to, for example, go to the doctor or the grocery store, to vote, to take care of others, or to work at essential businesses. It lists a vast array of essential businesses, from health care and public safety to taverns and restaurants that provide food for pickup, the media, grocery stores and more.
7:15 p.m.: Kenosha bus passengers ride for free
Bus riders in Kenosha can ride for free because the city’s transit system is temporarily suspending collection of fares due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Kenosha Area Transit has also suspended street car service until further notice.
To prevent the spread of the virus, bus passengers are asked to board buses through rear doors and avoid putting money into fareboxes at the front starting Tuesday.
– Meg Jones
6:12 p.m.: Summerfest moving to September
Officials with parent company Milwaukee World Festival Inc. announced that the annual 11-day festival — originally set this year for June 24 to 28 and June 30 to July 5 — will now run nine days in 2020, taking place on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays across the first three weeks in September.
The new dates: Sept. 3 to 5, Sept. 10 to 12 and Sept. 17 to 19. Festival officials Monday did not reveal if any of the 32 acts already announced for 2020 will be available in September. They were split up across nine shows at the American Family Insurance Amphitheater and seven shows at the BMO Harris Pavilion, and they included Justin Bieber, Guns N’ Roses, Chris Stapleton, Dave Matthews Band and Halsey.
“The new dates provide the best possible option to deliver the Summerfest experience our fans and sponsors have grown to love; we are doing everything possible to continue a tradition which spans five decades,” festival officials said in an announcement Monday.
“We know there will be many questions and we look forward to sharing details with you in the future.”
All festival tickets that have been already purchased will be honored, and announcements about rescheduled shows “will follow soon.”
6 p.m.: Waukesha County Meals on Wheels changing delivery
The Meals on Wheels program in Waukesha County is changing deliveries due to the spread of the coronavirus.
Instead of delivering one meal each weekday, seniors will receive five meals in one delivery each week. Participants in some communities might see changes to their delivery schedule this week while most will switch to the new delivery schedule starting next Monday.
The Aging and Disability Resource Center of Waukesha County is no longer using volunteer delivery drivers. Instead staff members will make deliveries. For more information, contact the resource center weekdays at (262) 548-7848.
– Meg Jones
5:57 p.m.: Milwaukee Common Council will meet via teleconference
Milwaukee’s Common Council is gathering for its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday morning but few will be present at City Hall. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the meeting will be mostly virtual.
To follow the “safer at home” orders from the governor and mayor, no members of the public or media will be allowed to observe the Common Council meeting in person. Nearly all council members will attend by teleconference; only a handful are expected to attend the meeting in person along with a few staff members.
City Clerk Jim Owczarski said all meetings will be teleconferenced until further notice.
The meeting starts at 9 a.m. and can be watched on TV in the city of Milwaukee on either Channel 25 on Spectrum Cable and on AT&T U-Verse Channel 99 or live-streamed on the city’s website – Milwaukee.gov/Channel25
The agenda can be accessed here.
– Meg Jones
5:47 p.m.: Packers give $1.5 million for COVID-19 relief
The Green Bay Packers on Monday announced the team will donate COVID-19 community relief funds totaling $1.5 million, through Packers Give Back, to help with efforts in Brown County and the Milwaukee area.
The $1 million fund for Brown County, the Packers Give Back COVID-19 Community Relief Fund, is being established through the Greater Green Bay Community Foundation. Packers Give Back also is directing $500,000 to provide help in the Milwaukee area.
“We are facing an unprecedented challenge in our communities,” said Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy. “We know our nonprofit support agencies will be performing their usual excellent work, but they’ll need additional resources as various needs and gaps in coverage develop in the coming weeks and months. The Packers are committed to supporting them now and into the future as we all work together to weather this difficult time.”
— Mary Spicuzza
5:38 p.m.: Milwaukee stay-at-home order won’t force bars, liquor stores to close
Bars, taverns and liquor stores will not be ordered to shut down when Milwaukee issues its stay-at-home order, Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said Monday.
“Taverns, bars, liquor stores are considered food service providers, and will able to remain open as long as they can maintain social distancing and provide product via curbside takeout or delivery,” Kowalik said during an online news conference.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett has said the order, which he is issuing Monday, will go into effect at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday
— Mary Spicuzza and Alison Dirr
5:10 p.m.: Legal Aid Society urges Evers to impose moratorium on evictions
Gov. Tony Evers should order a moratorium on evictions throughout the state as officials and residents battle the coronavirus pandemic, the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee said in a letter to the governor Monday.
Legal Aid’s call for the freeze comes days after Legal Action of Wisconsin asked the state Supreme Court to issue a similar ban on eviction proceedings.
“Ultimately, what is at stake here is the safety of the public at large by preventing further transmission of the COVID-19 virus by those closest to the eviction process,” Colleen Foley, Legal Aid executive director wrote to Evers
Foley argued that evictions “unnecessarily expose and endanger untold numbers of the public,” including court officials, sheriff’s deputies, inmates, landlords and tenants to COVID-19.
Legal Aid last week succeeded in freezing the execution of eviction orders — the last step in the process of tossing out a tenant — when it persuaded a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge to stay the orders until at least April 9.
— Cary Spivak
5 p.m.: Federal courthouse closes to public
Milwaukee’s federal courthouse will be closed to the public starting Tuesday.
Chief U.S. District Judge Pamela Pepper issued the order Monday afternoon 10 days after she imposed lesser restrictions and the same day Gov. Tony Evers announced plans for more restrictions on public movement Tuesday.
“The court finds that closing the building to the public will assist in complying with the governor’s ‘Safer-at-Home’” order, reduce the number of individuals who come into contact with each other and with building staff and, the court hopes, reduce the likelihood of spread of COVID-19 infections.”
“The court has considered reasonable alternatives to this building closure order and has not been able to identify any that would effectuate the interest in protection of health and safety,” Pepper’s order said.
The order won’t completely empty the building, at 517 East Wisconsin Ave. Pepper noted that agencies that work there — federal prosecutors, federal defenders, bankruptcy court, federal probation services and the like — all continue working, though some may also be working from home.
Judges will continue conducting hearings, mostly by phone or video conference, but possibly in person in some instances.
Pepper said there haven’t been any pleas or sentencings before judges since her last order took effect, but that a couple of magistrate judges have some arraignments and bond hearings in criminal cases in which defendants agreed to waive their in-person appearances.
There will be no in-person deliveries to the clerk’s office or judge’s chambers. Parties can use a drop box on the Jackson Street side of the building, e-file them or mail documents.
But persons who may need to enter for some other reason can call ahead to whichever office they need to contact, and might be able to enter from Jackson Street, and go through the usual security, plus new coronavirus screenings.
News reporters can call ahead to specific judge’s chambers to hear telephone hearings, or would be allowed inside for a criminal case hearing that for some reason could not be done remotely or postponed, she said.
— Bruce Vielmetti
4:45 p.m.: Marquette postpones commencement, extends online classes
Marquette University postponed its commencement and extended virtual learning through the end of the semester.
The school announced the changes Monday and provided more information about how to receive refunds for room and board and register for summer classes — which were still set to occur, the school said.
All events at Marquette are canceled through the end of the semester on May 10. Students will take final exams online, and faculty and staff are directed to continue working from home.
Graduation ceremonies are postponed as administrators work to reschedule it for a later date. They’d like to hold an in-person event in August for the spring graduates, but plans are still being ironed out. Diplomas will be mailed.
— Sophie Carson
4 p.m.: UW-Madison students must move everything out of dorms tonight
The University of Wisconsin-Madison is asking those who live in student housing to move out by 9 tonight, ahead of Gov. Tony Evers’ planned Tuesday order to stay at home.
Students need to collect their belongings before the residence halls close entirely, according to a notice posted on the school’s website. UW-Madison has suspended students’ key-card access to the residence halls.
Only those who have permission to stay in the dorms will be allowed to enter.
Students had previously signed up for move-out dates, but the school has canceled all those appointments in light of Evers’ announcement.
“At this time, we do not know when we will be able to safely resume move-out activities,” the university said.
If students cannot retrieve their belongings from their dorm rooms, the items will be boxed up and put in storage, according to the notice.
The school asked people to stay away from the campus and not to attempt to enter the residence halls. Last week it moved all classes online for the rest of the semester.
— Sophie Carson
3:30 p.m.: State parks remain open despite incorrect hotline information
Wisconsin state parks are still open.
Despite a Wisconsin DNR news release Thursday stating all state properties were going to remain open, with buildings and campsites closing to the public, on Monday trail hotlines for Lapham Peak and the Kettle Moraine State Forest-Southern Unit said that all parks, forests and trails were closed.
The hotlines are wrong, however. Amanda Kutka, a visitor services associate in the southern unit, said “there was some confusion,” but parks and trails do remain open, and the recordings were being updated to reflect that.
— Chelsey Lewis
3:15 p.m.: Local restaurants give free meals to health care workers, police
When licensed practical nurse Yvonne Leitze got word that Culver’s was offering health care workers free meals, she called her nearest location for her Aurora clinic in New Berlin.
Leitze found out from the manager that the Culver’s location was not participating in the free meal giveaway. But since the clinic was only up the street, the manager was happy to give the clinic free lunch only for today.
“It makes me feel like what we’re doing really does make a difference and people care about us and what we’re doing,” Leitze said.
A West Allis Chic-fil-A location, meanwhile, has also been helping out emergency workers during the virus outbreak.
That location gave away free meals to the West Allis Police Department last week and plans to give meals to the staff at Rogers Memorial Hospital this Thursday.
“At the end of the day, our goal is just to serve our community in the best way,” said restaurant operator David Schiedt. “We want to make sure people don’t have to worry about food and things like that in a time of crisis.”
All Chic-fil-A stores in Wisconsin are independently owned and operated, but Schiedt believes other locations are helping out. The outbreak has reawakened a sense of community that Schiedt hopes continues.
“Hopefully, it’s not something that goes away here,” he said. “It can be done during good times as well as tough times.”
— Patricia McKnight
3:05 p.m.: State Rep. David Bowen tests positive for COVID-19
Democratic state Rep. David Bowen, 33, has tested positive for coronavirus —the first Wisconsin lawmaker to contract the virus that has halted daily life in the state.
Bowen, who represents northeast Milwaukee and the Village of Shorewood, said Monday he tested positive for the virus over the weekend after coming into contact with another elected official he didn’t name who also has the virus.
Bowen said he has been isolating himself for about a week after the Shorewood Health Department notified him he may have been exposed. He said he’s recovering at home and in good spirits.
“While it isn’t clear whether I was infected by this individual or someone else within our community, one thing is certain — it is imperative that this virus be taken seriously and that individuals minimize social interactions and stay home to prevent further spread of this virus and its immobilizing symptoms,” he said in a statement.
Another elected official, Shorewood School Board member Pablo Muirhead, recently opened up about his diagnosis in an effort to encourage people to stay home and raise awareness about the illness.
— Molly Beck
2:21 p.m.: You won’t need to get your vehicle’s emissions tested for a while
The state is extending the deadline for vehicle emissions testing because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The extension affects vehicles in Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Washington and Waukesha counties.
Customers who have a routine vehicle registration renewal date after March 12 and require an emission test will have 90 days from their renewal date to complete an emission test and maintain valid registration.
Customers who got a new vehicle registration this year as of March 12 will need to complete an emission test by June 10 to maintain valid registration.
Customers who apply for or got a new vehicle registration after March 12, when the governor’s emergency order took effect, have 90 days from their date of registration to complete an emission test and maintain valid registration. This gives customers another 45 days to complete the original requirement.
Vehicles registered in southeastern Wisconsin are required to undergo emissions testing before license plate stickers can be renewed. Under state law, the departments of transportation and natural resources must agree on a vehicle emissions test deadline extension.
— Meg Jones
2:15 p.m.: Wisconsin advocacy groups calling for election to be postponed
Local advocacy groups are pushing to postpone the April 7 election, saying the coronavirus pandemic would dissuade people from voting in person.
“I’m part of pastors and religious leaders in Milwaukee who believe that it would be a devastating, pitiful attempt to have the election on April 7,” said Gregory Lewis, president of Souls to the Polls, on a conference call with reporters. “If someone is saying we have to stay at home, how can we go out and vote?”
Lewis said he has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The election would disproportionately affect low-income voters and those without internet access who want to request an absentee ballot, a coalition of six groups said Monday.
“Most Latinx voters rely on same-day voter registration to cast their ballot,” said Christine Neumann-Ortiz of immigrant rights group Voces de la Frontera in a statement. “Latinx” is a gender-neutral term to refer to Latinos.
“A decision to go ahead with this election will discourage people from voting and put them at risk of infection if they do vote in person,” she added.
And Debra Cronmiller, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, said a huge onslaught of requests for absentee ballots would be too much for local election clerks to handle in time.
“In the next two weeks before the election, the incoming volume of requests for absentee ballots will be so great that even with extended staffs, the time required to process the requests is greater than the two weeks we have,” she said in a statement.
Since libraries and schools as well as early-voting sites are closed, those without internet access at home will have a harder time finding ways to register to vote online or request a ballot, the coalition said.
The Milwaukee branch of the NAACP is advocating for an all-mail vote on June 2.
— Sophie Carson
2:10 p.m.: Here’s a look at the latest coronavirus numbers in Wisconsin
Wisconsin’s total number of confirmed cases of coronavirus is now at 416 and counting, state health officials announced Monday.
Thirty of the state’s counties have now recorded cases. Community transmission — meaning we’ve lost track of how the virus is passing between people — has been documented in more than a half-dozen counties. Five people have died.
Prior to Monday, Wisconsin’s confirmed cases had grown by at least a third each day since March 18, mirroring trends in other states and countries that saw exponential growth in cases after community spread set in.
Wisconsin’s number of confirmed cases Sunday stood at 381, and the increase is smaller than increases in recent days.
To date, confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state stand as follows:
- 204 in Milwaukee County
- 61 in Dane County
- 31 in Waukesha County
- 16 in Fond du Lac County
- 15 in Washington County
- 14 in Ozaukee County
- 12 in Kenosha County
- Six in Sheboygan County
- Five each in Columbia, La Crosse, Racine and Winnebago counties
- Four in Eau Claire County
- Three each in Brown, Pierce, Rock, Sauk, St. Croix and Walworth counties
- Two each in Dodge, Douglas, Jefferson and Outagamie counties
- One each in Bayfield, Calumet, Chippewa, Dunn, Green, Marathon and Wood counties
On Monday, more than 7,000 Wisconsinites had tested negative for the virus.
— Madeline Heim
1:30 p.m.: Wisconsin companies team up, change focus to manufacturing respirator masks
A Janesville-based textile mill and a Oak Creek flag manufacturer are teaming up to produce respirator masks needed by front-line medical personnel during the coronavirus pandemic.
Monterey Mills, a supplier of knitted pile fabric, and Eder Flag, which makes flags and poles, announced the collaboration in a news release Monday.
Monterey Mills has an order of 20,000 barrier masks from a large regional health system. Another 2,500 masks will be donated to the City of Milwaukee Health Department. Park of the flag-sewing operation in Oak Creek will be converted to produce the barrier masks.
“We’re combining air filtration and insulation fabrics, with a membrane liner to create a highly effective, comfortable respirator mask. The masks are designed to be re-useable, cleaned in an industrial or home washer, and available for multiple uses.” said Dan Sinykin, president of Monterey Mills.
— Sarah Hauer
1:28 p.m.: DNC exploring contingency plans if July convention in Milwaukee must be postponed
Leaders of the 2020 Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee issued a statement Monday in which they said they are “exploring a range of contingency options” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The statement, however, did not spell out what the options are.
— Bill Glauber
12:40 p.m.: Report indicates Olympics will be postponed, likely to 2021
Christine Brennan of USA Today reports that International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told USA TODAY Sports that the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are going to be postponed, likely to 2021, with the details to be worked out in the next four weeks.
12:35 p.m.: Sherman Park business hub makes emergency appeal for funds
Sherman Phoenix, the small business hub in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood, has launched an emergency appeal for funds after closing last week.
“Our first priority is to provide immediate rent relief for all 27 tenants. Secondly, we want to provide support to our entrepreneurs as they pivot to new e-commerce platforms,” said the Monday announcement from Sherman Phoenix developers JoAnne Sabir and Juli Kaufmann.
Tax deductible donations can be mailed to: Wisconsin Preservation Fund, c/o Bruce Block, President, 1000 N. Water St., Suite 2100, Milwaukee, WI 53201. Online gifts – which are not deductible — can be made at www.shermanphoenix.com or cash app $shermanphoenix.
— Tom Daykin
12:16 p.m.: Restraining order process moves online
People seeking new temporary restraining orders must now file electronically to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In Milwaukee, advocates with Sojourner Family Peace Center are available to help with e-filing at (414) 278-5079. Those who call are asked to leave a message with their full name and a safe call-back number. An advocate will call back between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, according to a Sojourner news release.
Those who already have filed for a restraining order and have an upcoming hearing date are still to appear at the Milwaukee County Courthouse, Room 712. Failure to appear to the hearing will result in a dismissal of the order. Advocates will attend hearings by phone, the release stated.
A restraining order is a court order against someone who has abused or harassed another person that prohibits them from having contact with the person who filed for it.
“Filing a restraining order can be especially challenging for survivors of domestic violence who may feel intimidated or frightened for their safety,” said Carmen Pitre, Sojourner’s president and chief executive, in a news release.
“It’s important that survivors connect with us so we can help them understand unfamiliar terminology, navigate the legal process and discuss safety planning,” she said.
— Ashley Luthern
12:12 p.m.: Concerning volume of cases on Milwaukee’s north side
A number of coronavirus cases have been confirmed on Milwaukee’s north side, city officials said Monday.
“I want to make sure residents in the northern part of the city are listening to what I’m saying: Please do everything you can to keep your distance from other individuals,” Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett said during an online news conference with reporters.
Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said tat officials would be doing outreach on the city’s north side to help prevent the spread of coronavirus, particularly among the African American community.
Their comments came as Kowalik announced that a third Milwaukee resident – again an African American male – had died after contracting coronavirus.
— Mary Spicuzza and Alison Dirr
11:53 a.m.: Milwaukee issues separate stay-at-home edict
The City of Milwaukee will issue its own order that residents stay at home to limit the spread of the coronavirus, Mayor Tom Barrett and Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik announced in a Monday morning virtual press conference.
“We continue to see the torrential push, if you will, of COVID-19 cases toward our community and now in our community,” Barrett said.
The city’s order will be issued Monday and is expected to go into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday.
Gov. Tony Evers on Monday announced that he is preparing to order the state’s residents to stay in their homes starting this week.
Part of the reason for the city’s order, Barrett said, was that there were reports of people congregating around liquor stores, restaurants and other locations – the opposite of what people should be doing.
The goal is to get compliance from the community and not to have to use legal enforcement measures, he and Kowalik said.
Operators that continue to do business in violation of the order jeopardize their licenses.
Barrett and Kowalik were careful to say this is not the “shelter-in-place” orders seen in other places.
“This is not a lockdown,” Kowalik said. Instead, it’s meant to stress that staying at home is the best way to prevent COVID-19 from continuing to spread in the community.
Barrett said people can still go for a jog or to grocery stores, and he asked that residents not rush to grocery stores in an effort to further stock up on supplies.
He also said the city is looking to see what it can do to help residents who are affected, particularly those in lower-paying jobs.
This is both a health care crisis and an economic crisis, he said.
— Alison Dirr and Mary Spicuzza
11:47 a.m.: Drugs being identified that can assist with treatment
Scientists have identified 69 existing drugs, some already approved for use, that target parts of the network used by the virus that causes COVID-19 disease.
This discovery raises hope that one or more of the drugs may be able to interfere with the virus’s actions and slow or stop the disease, according to a preprint on a web site run by the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, N.Y.
The unpublished preprint has not been peer-reviewed but is being made available on the web site bioRxiv. Under normal circumstances, scientists are hesitant to post studies that have not been peer-reviewed, but the COVID-19 pandemic has changed practices. Scientists are sharing their work much earlier, and the often-slow publication process has sped up considerably.
The work, conducted by about 90 scientists from more than a dozen universities and institutions, maps out how the virus interacts with components of cells. The scientists used that information to search for drugs that can stop the virus from hijacking cells.
The authors write that the 69 drugs include, “FDA approved drugs, compounds in clinical trials as well as preclinical compounds targeting (part of the virus’) network.
“We are currently testing these compounds for antiviral activity and encourage others to do the same…”
— Mark Johnson
11:38 a.m.: UW-Oshkosh prepares to house coronavirus patients, people under quarantine
The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh will be one of at least three UW System campuses working with the state to make beds available for local coronavirus patients, should the need arise.
Over the weekend, the university responded to a request from the departments of Health Services and Administration, along with the UW System, to make its residence halls available for what officials called mild cases or those in need of quarantine, if local hospitals are unable to meet the demand, Chancellor Andrew Leavitt said Monday during a news conference.
“We are a state facility, and we want to be good stewards of those assets,” Leavitt said. UW campuses in Madison and Milwaukee also are involved in the efforts.
The university put out a call around noon Sunday for volunteers with a background in health care and to be involved in data entry to help prepare, Leavitt said. That call garnered more than 100 responses within about five hours, most of which came from students.
“These are clearly unprecedented times for all of us, and I was really heartened by the response from the community,” he said. “In just a few hours, we were able to secure over 100 people to help out.”
While the state would determine which and how many residence halls it would need, the university is making all of them available and is looking at starting with Horizon Village and Gruenhagen Conference Center, Leavitt said.
The university is in the third and final day of moving students out of the residence halls, Leavitt said. Cleaning crews would follow, after which the rooms would be available, most likely within the next couple days.
— Nathaniel Shuda
11:32 a.m.: Insurance to be offered for restaurant food deliveries
Restaurants that have started to deliver food because of the coronavirus pandemic will receive insurance coverage for the new service, Gov. Tony Evers ordered Monday.
Insurers operating in Wisconsin will assist restaurants that have begun offering delivery service after all restaurants were ordered to suspend dining service. The order says insurers must cover delivery services for restaurants on personal auto insurance policies and must offer coverage for hired drivers and non-owned cars as a rider on a restaurant’s general liability insurance. Both option will be at no cost to the policyholders.
This insurance order will be in effect until the public health emergency is lifted or restaurants are allowed to resume normal operations.
— Sarah Hauer
11:29 a.m.: Barrett calls for changes to April 7 election
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett called on state leaders to change the voting process in Wisconsin ahead of the April 7 election, whether that’s going to all mail-in balloting or changing the date.
Dramatic change is needed to ensure people’s right to vote can be exercised in a safe way, he said during a virtual press conference Monday.
The city has ceased all in-person absentee or “early” voting at its three locations. Barrett said an increasing number of poll workers at the early election sites were declining to come in due to concerns about the virus.
— Alison Dirr and Mary Spicuzza
10:49 a.m.: University of Wisconsin postpones graduation ceremony
The University of Wisconsin in Madison announced that it was postponing its May graduation ceremony.
“Of all the decisions we’ve had to make in this extraordinary time, this one has been the most heartbreaking for me,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank wrote. “There is no better event at UW than commencement when we award degrees and celebrate the completion of school for our graduates.
“We held out on this decision as long as possible, in hopes that the outlook for late spring might brighten and we’d be able to gather as usual, but as you probably know, both the CDC and State of Wisconsin have put out guidance regarding gatherings of large groups of people. That means that in addition to the main ceremonies, graduation celebrations in schools, colleges, departments and campus organizations will also not go forward in May.”
Blank also recorded a video message. She noted that Wisconsin will hold an online commencement ceremony, and when it’s safe for crowds together, Wisconsin will find a date for an in-person event. Commencement ceremonies were scheduled to begin May 8. Candidates for graduation will still offiically graduate on time.
— JR Radcliffe
10:38 a.m. Portage prison employee tests positive
An employee at Columbia Correctional Institution has tested positive for COVID-19, marking the second confirmed case in the Wisconsin prison system.
Eighteen inmates at Waupun Correctional Institution were quarantined last week after a doctor at the facility tested positive. Eleven prison medical workers also were sent home.
No inmates in the state prison system have tested positive for the virus, the Department of Corrections said in a news release.
The case at Columbia Correctional Institution, in Portage, was confirmed Saturday, according to the department.
— Sophie Carson
10:28 a.m.: Milwaukee confirms third coronavirus-related death
Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said she was notified that Milwaukee has had its third death related to complications of coronavirus, an African-American male. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner confirmed that a 54-year-old male had been hospitalized for a short time before his death.
More information to come.
— Mary Spicuzza
9:43 a.m.: Governor Evers orders Wisconsites to stay at home
Gov. Tony Evers on Monday ordered Wisconsinites to stay in their homes starting this week. The governor did not say how long the order would last or how the state could conduct its April 7 presidential primary and election for state Supreme Court and local offices.
The governor is calling his order a safer-at home order rather than a shelter-in-place order, as California and New York have. Evers’ phrasing is the same as what’s been used in Ohio and is meant to get businesses to close and people to stay at home without terrifying them or making them think martial law is being imposed.
Under the order, people will be able to go to grocery stores and pharmacies and go outside to exercise or walk a dog. But businesses will be forced to close unless they are deemed to provide essential services.
Restaurants, which were closed by the governor last week for dine-in service, will be able to continue to provide curbside takeout, according to the governor. Manufacturers will also get to stay open under the governor’s order.
— Molly Beck
7:50 a.m.: Milwaukee County now over 200 cases of coronavirus
The number of cases in Milwaukee County increased to 202 Monday morning, adding about 20 new cases since Sunday afternoon. Most of the county’s coronavirus cases are in the city of Milwaukee, which has 156.
Forty-five people in their 40’s have tested positive, which was the most of any age group, according to the county. There are 39 cases with people in their 50s, and 34 people in their 20’s tested positive in the county.
– Jordyn Noenning
7:35 a.m.: Wisconsin Olympian calls for postponement of Tokyo games
On Sunday, word came that Canada would not be sending athletes to the 2020 Summer Olympics, scheduled to begin July 24 in Tokyo, unless the games were postponed a year to 2021.
It’s not the only athletics body calling for a postponement, though the International Olympic Committee has hesitated to make that call.
Molly Seidel, the University Lake School alumna who grew up in Nashotah and became a national sensation last month when she qualified for the U.S. team in her first ever marathon, is joining USA Track and Field in calling for a yearlong postponement.
“For the health of athletes & integrity of the games I support USATF’s call to #PostponeTheOlympics,” Seidel wrote on Instagram.
“Writing that last sentence made my stomach drop. But I know it’s the right decision and I stand behind @usatf, for the health of athletes, spectators, and the games as a whole.”
Seidel, one of the greatest distance runners in Wisconsin history, matched another former Olympian in Suzy Favor Hamilton as the only high-school runner to win four cross country titles in her high-school career. She went on to win national titles at Notre Dame and surprised the country when she finished second in the marathon trial.
“I was lucky enough to do my marathon training at a time when coronavirus didn’t impact me; the vast majority of @teamusa athletes still working to qualify for the games don’t have that luxury,” she added in her post. “Their preparation would be severely impacted, their competition schedule gutted, and their safety put at risk. They simply won’t have the access to safe training venues or competitions leading into this summer, putting them on an unequal playing field and denying many the chance to give their best effort.
“I’m praying that current conditions improve quickly and that the situation is stable enough by July to hold the games. However, that outlook continues to look more naive as the coronavirus pandemic worsens. Four months is not enough time to deal with the far-reaching ramifications of this crisis.”
— JR Radcliffe
8:37 p.m. Sunday: 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. Sunday: 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.
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