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: Monday’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
8:20 p.m.: Wisconsin receives PPE shipment from national stockpile
Wisconsin received its second shipment of personal protective equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile, Gov. Tony Evers’ office announced Tuesday.
Crews are working to distribute the items to health care and emergency workers in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes and assisted living facilities across the state.
The second shipment includes 51,880 N95 respirators; 130,840 face/surgical masks; 23,400 face shields; 20,226 surgical gowns; 96 coveralls and 79,000 pairs of gloves.
The first round of supplies from the National Stockpile included similar numbers of each item.
Evers has also asked the Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide personal protective equipment to law enforcement officers and firefighters.
— Sophie Carson
6 p.m.: Two additional Dane County Jail deputies test positive
Four Dane County sheriff’s deputies working in the jail in Madison have tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Dane County Sheriff’s Office announced two cases Monday and two cases Tuesday. The deputies are ages 35, 24, 27 and 46. All are at home in quarantine.
The positive tests come after two Dane County inmates were diagnosed with COVID-19 last week. One inmate was released and the other is in quarantine in the jail. He does not have symptoms, according to the sheriff’s office.
All six people were working or housed in the same part of the jail, the sheriff’s office said. No other inmates have exhibited symptoms.
The outbreak has seen 11 deputies tested for the virus. Four have tested positive, five negative, and two others are awaiting results.
— Sophie Carson
5:30 p.m.: Milwaukee Air & Water Show ‘still a go’
The 2020 Milwaukee Air & Water Show is “still a go,” organizers said in a release Tuesday.
The event is scheduled to take place July 25-26 and will feature the U.S. Navy Blue Angels Flight Demonstration Team.
The show annually attracts hundreds of thousands of people to Milwaukee’s lakefront.
Organizers said they “will continue to monitor the situation with COVID-19 as we get closer to the air and water show.”
— Bill Glauber
5:20 p.m.: S.C. Johnson donates hand sanitizer to Milwaukee police
The Milwaukee Police Department on Tuesday got a donation of 65 cases of hand sanitizer from Racine-based S.C. Johnson & Son.
Fisk Johnson, the company’s CEO, dropped off the hand sanitizer to thank officers for their work to help keep people safe during the coronavirus pandemic, the company said.
— Mary Spicuzza
5 p.m.: Valet parking employee at airport tests positive
An employee of a valet parking company at Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport has tested positive for the coronavirus.
The person last worked third shift on March 26 in the Interflight Parking booth near the baggage claim area. Interflight Parking runs a curbside valet parking service.
Crews have sanitized the areas where the person worked as well as restricted access to the booth. Mitchell has also increased its cleaning processes across the airport, according to a news release.
— Sophie Carson
3:45 p.m.: Milwaukee cuts in-person voting sites from 180 to about 10
The City of Milwaukee expects to have only 10 to 12 voting sites — or possibly fewer — open for in-person voting citywide during its April 7 election day, Milwaukee Election Commission Executive Director Neil Albrecht said Tuesday.
That’s a dramatic reduction from the 180 sites that are typically open on an election day. Albrecht cited a drastic shortage of poll workers as the reason for the change, saying that earlier in the week the city was also down to 400 poll workers, rather than the 1,400 Milwaukee would typically have.
“The City of Milwaukee has maintained a long-standing tradition of voting sites that are very often within walking distance of a voter’s home. We will not be able to do that on April 7. We will be going toward a model of voting centers, which is a consolidation of voting sites,” Albrecht said.
Voters gathering to cast ballots in person also raises the risk that the virus could spread, Albrecht said.
“We’re very concerned about that, in terms of the community gathering at a voting site on election day being contradictory to public health guidelines,” he said.
— Mary Spicuzza
3:35 p.m.: Polish Fest postponed
Organizers at Polish Fest announced that officials with Milwaukee World Festival Inc., which oversees Maier Festival Park, informed them the lakefront site would not be available during their scheduled dates June 12 to 14.
“We have been discussing alternatives already in concern for health safety to our volunteers, performers, participants, and patrons prior to this directive and will continue to do so for possible alternative dates,” read a statement on the Polish Fest Facebook page.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, the Italian Community Center, which runs Festa Italiana, announced the 2020 edition would be canceled.
“We’ll definitely be back in 2021, bigger and better,” Joseph T. Emanuele, Italian Community Center president and Festa general chairman, said in a statement.
The calendar is clearing out for Maier Festival Park events through early July, with PrideFest and Summerfest officials announcing earlier this month that their events would be postponed. Summerfest is now scheduled for Sept. 3 to 5, 10 to 12 and 17 to 19. New dates for PrideFest have yet to be announced.
— Piet Levy
3:01 p.m.: State establishes voluntary isolation centers for those showing symptoms
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday announced that the state would be opening two voluntary coronavirus isolation facilities in Madison and Milwaukee.
The sites at a Super 8 hotel in Milwaukee and the Lowell Center in Madison will open Wednesday.
The facilities will be for people with symptoms who are suspected of being infected with the virus or who have confirmed cases, according to a statement from Evers’ office.
— Alison Dirr
2:45 p.m.: Wisconsin cases of coronavirus triple over past week
Confirmed cases of coronavirus in Wisconsin grew by more than 100 for the seventh straight day Tuesday, nearly tripling in a week’s time to 1,351.
At least 25 Wisconsin residents had died after contracting COVID-19, adding in county reports that had yet to be included on the Department of Health Services dashboard. Twenty of those deaths occurred in the past week.
A study by a research center at the University of Washington, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, estimated that Wisconsin’s COVID-19 epidemic would peak in late April, when 37 people would die in a day.
Gov. Tony Evers and state officials have closed schools and nonessential businesses, warning that without social distancing measures, the state could see an exponential growth in new cases that overwhelms hospitals and kills upward of 1,000 residents.
DHS officials have cautioned, though, against seeing the climbing numbers — Wisconsin’s count jumped 130 on Tuesday — and concluding that social distancing isn’t working. Because of the slow onset of symptoms and the lag in testing and reporting, it may be weeks before those numbers level off, state officials have said.
2:39 p.m.: Brew City Match offering grants and zero-interest loans to some small businesses
Brew City Match is offering grants and zero-interest loans to Milwaukee small businesses to help during the coronavirus pandemic.
The grants and loans are available to retail, restaurant and service businesses within the program area. Brew City Match is focused on businesses around Historic King Drive, Lindsay Heights, Near West Side and Clarke Square areas of the city.
Loans from $5,000 to $10,000 are available at a 0% interest rate to cover rent, payroll and other fixed expenses. Grants of up to $1,200 are available for commercial rental assistance or to meet payroll for current employees.
— Sarah Hauer
1:55 p.m.: Radio Milwaukee, gener8tor team up to help Milwaukee musicians
With concerts halted for the foreseeable future, local musicians that depended on show income are really struggling. WYMS-FM (88.9), business startup accelerator gener8tor and the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate or Social Impact are pairing up to do something about it.
They’re offering a free, two-week virtual course April 6 to 17 to help musicians during the coronavirus crisis. It’s an extension of Radio Milwaukee and gener8tor’s Backline program, a career advancement course for local musicians. Between Backline and complementary program Motown Accelerator in Detroit, gener8tor was named one of the most innovative music companies of 2020 by Fast Company earlier this month.
The virtual Backline program will include hour-long webinars, including a best practices presentation from Instagram’s Head of Music; tips for applying for financial support; listening sessions with producers, songwriters and A&R reps; and more.
The program also offers virtual office hours with Backline staff. To register, visit backlinemusic.com/emergency-response-program. Seventy-five slots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration closes at 11:59 p.m. CT Sunday.
— Piet Levy
12:50 p.m.: Woman from Pewaukee is 12th person to die in Milwaukee County
An 85-year-old African American woman from Pewaukee died from the coronavirus around 9 a.m. Tuesday, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office said.
The woman had been hospitalized for several days when she died, the examiner’s office said in a Tweet. The death brings Milwaukee County’s total to 12 and the state’s to 25.
— Elliot Hughes
12:29 p.m.: Festa Italiana 2020 canceled
The Italian Community Center announced Tuesday that it was canceling this year’s Festa Italiana.
The event had been scheduled for July 17-19 at Maier Festival Park.
It will return in 2021, according to Joseph T. Emanuele, Italian Community Center president and Festa general chairman.
“The coronavirus has impacted virtually every business and industry across the country,” Emanuele said in a statement. “The health and safety of our employees, volunteers, vendors, members and certainly our attendees are our highest priority to ensure a safe environment for everybody.”
— Bill Glauber
11:48 a.m.: UW football brothers launch GoFundMe to provide meals to Central Wisconsin
Brothers Jack and Bobby Dunn, both members of the University of Wisconsin football program, are doing what they can to help others less fortunate during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jack Dunn is a wide receiver on the team; Bobby Dunn is a graduate assistant. Both are graduates of Edgewood High School in Madison.
The brothers announced Tuesday via Twitter they have started “Team 2020 Campaign” through GoFundMe.
“Funds raised for this campaign will allow us to provide meals for some of central Wisconsin’s most critically in-need community members,” Bobby Dunn said on a video posted on Twitter.
Jack Dunn added: “There are no better fans than Badger fans and we knew that the platform football provides us would allow us to broaden our reach and raise money to help those in desperate need of food during this time.
“In addition to UW football, we’ve teamed up with the (Madison) Community Foundation and Agrace Hospice Care to provide meals during the state’s safer at home time period.”
The brothers hope to raise $100,000.
“All donations, large or small, will have a significant and immediate impact on Madison families,” Jack Dunn wrote on Twitter. “We encourage anyone to join our cause by donating or helping to spread the word.” Here’s the link to the GoFundMe.
— Jeff Potrykus
11:35 a.m. Eleventh Milwaukee County resident dies from coronavirus complications
A 72-year-old Latino man from Milwaukee died Tuesday morning from coronavirus, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office said.
The man, who died shortly before 8:45 a.m., is the 11th person to die in Milwaukee County after contracting coronavirus. His death brought the statewide total to 23 deaths.
— Mary Spicuzza
11:25 a.m.: Unemployment numbers staggering; DWD asks applicants to use online service
The impact of COVID-19 on jobs has been significant, but new numbers Tuesday from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development are simply staggering.
The DWD says that on Thursday, for example, its unemployment insurance division telephone system was at times receiving 160 calls per second.
“During the week of March 22, 2020, DWD’s Unemployment Insurance Division received more than 1.5 million calls, an increase of 6,208% over the busiest weekly call volume,” according to a statement from the agency.
“The unprecedented number of calls overloaded the system as it was not built to handle this type of call volume,” according to the statement.
The heavy volume is continuing. On Sunday, there were just over 12,000 claims filed and on Monday, nearly 25,000 claims were filed.
Monday’s total was the most in a single day by far since efforts to blunt the spread of COVID-19 were put in place.
Monday’s total was also just under a quarter of the 115,679 new claims that were filed for the entire week of March 22 through 28.
Because of the massive volume of claims, DWD is asking residents to file for unemployment insurance benefits online at https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/apply/.
“The online application process is faster and easier than applying over the phone,” the DWD said in a statement. “Over 98% of the people who have applied through the DWD website have been able to successfully start, complete, and file their claim for unemployment benefits.
“DWD is encouraging people to apply online so that the phone lines are open for people who have been specifically instructed to call DWD or for those people who do not have access to a computer or internet,” according to the statement.
Meanwhile the agency is continuing to mobilize to meet the demand as an increasing number of businesses either lay off or furlough employees amid a rapid declines in business brought about by emergency closure and stay-at-home orders.
“DWD is diligently working to increase both staff and technology capacity. The department has increased the number of calls UI is able to send and receive, allowing for 690 simultaneous calls, which is up from the 450 simultaneous calls it was previously able to handle,” according to the statement.
The agency is also adding workers.
“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, UI call center consisted of 57 employees. Last week, DWD has temporarily added 35 staff members to help with the call volume, totaling 92 call center workers. DWD has now pulled, and is currently training, 40 staff members from other DWD divisions to assist the call center, and DWD would like to hire an additional 80 staff workers to triage calls for unemployment.”
Meanwhile the agency also said it wants to remind people that the week someone becomes unemployed, they should file an application for unemployment benefits online.
— Joe Taschler
10:15 a.m.: Poll workers in gravely short supply
The Evers administration is turning to state employees to work on Election Day as it scrambles to replace nearly 7,000 poll workers who are staying home because of their risk of being infected by coronavirus leaving at least 111 communities without anyone to man the polls.
Nearly 60% of Wisconsin municipalities are short on poll workers, according to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, and election officials are worried even more won’t show up on April 7.
With one week before the election, Gov. Tony Evers is encouraging state employees to fill the gap among other efforts to replace older poll workers who are at a higher risk of serious health complications and death if they contract the virus.
— Molly Beck and Patrick Marley
9:15 a.m. Aurora to erect triage tents at St. Luke’s
Aurora Health Care has filed applications with the city Department of Neighborhood Services to build triage “temporary membrane” structures and triage tents at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center, 2900 W. Oklahoma Ave., and Aurora Sinai Samaritan Medical Center, 945 N. 12th St., to help handle the increased number of patients tied to the coronavirus pandemic.
The membrane structures, similar to canopied tents used for wedding receptions and other events, need building permits, and the other tents need building code variances, according to the applications filed with DNS. They would be in parking lots at both hospitals near the emergency rooms.
— Tom Daykin
7:40 a.m.: 10 new cases confirmed in Milwaukee County
Milwaukee County reported just 10 new cases of COVID-19 Tuesday morning, the smallest batch of new cases the county has reported in more than two weeks.
Since March 16, Milwaukee County had reported several dozen new cases every day until Tuesday. The county total is now at 673.
In the city of Milwaukee, six new cases were reported, bringing the citywide total to 531.
West Allis (26), Wauwatosa (20) and Oak Creek (15) have the most confirmed cases among Milwaukee suburbs.
– Elliot Hughes
9:30 p.m. Monday: Dane County records a second coronavirus death, bringing state total to 23
Dane County’s coronavirus website updated late Monday to note a second person there had died due to coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 23 deaths.
Ten of those deaths have been in Milwaukee County.
The county’s page updates twice daily, at 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., based on “real-time data” that may not match the state Department of Health Services’ count.
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