Updates on coronavirus and how it’s affecting life in Wisconsin from reporters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the USA Today Network-Wisconsin.
Updated Live Blog: Wednesday’s coverage of coronavirus around 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
9:15 p.m.: Advanced Pain Management warns of permanent clinic closure
Advanced Pain Management, a large physician practice, said that it may have to lay off 50 employees permanently at its clinics in Greenfield next month because of the postponement of elective procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The physician practice also may be forced to close its clinics permanently unless it can obtain financing and address other matters, according to a letter notifying the Department of Workforce Development of the pending layoffs.
Advanced Pain Management employs 20 physicians and 31 nurse practitioners and physician assistants who practice at more than 20 clinics and offices throughout eastern and central Wisconsin, according to its website.
— Guy Boulton
6:15 p.m.: DMV implements new restrictions on in-person services
The Department of Motor Vehicles is implementing more restrictions on in-person services because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Until further notice, the service centers will be closed to all in-person transactions except for commercial driver licenses, voters needing identification who need to use the identification card petition process and new Wisconsin residents who need a driver’s license or ID for voting. And those services are available by appointment only.
To make an appointment for one of these services during the Safer at Home order, call the DMV Communication Center at (608) 264-7447.
People can still perform all vehicle-related transactions including renewing registration or obtaining titles for vehicles and changing addresses by mail, through third-party providers or online – wisconsindmv.gov
Also, all driver license and commercial driver license renewals are extended 60 days and emissions testing requirements have been deferred. Registration renewals should still be completed by mail or online by the renewal date.
And all non-commercial driver license skills tests have been canceled until further notice.
– Meg Jones
6 p.m.: Officials prepare to open coronavirus facility at State Fair
As projections show coronavirus cases in Milwaukee County will likely peak by mid April, officials are close to opening a facility to handle overflow patients at State Fair Park.
Dr. Ben Weston, Director of Medical Services, Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management, said a request to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to open a coronavirus facility at State Fair “is moving forward quickly.”
Army Corps of Engineers officials have given authorities here “positive feedback that it will happen soon,” Weston said at a Tuesday afternoon media briefing.
A team to operate the facility is being put together and officials are working to identify the criteria for patients to be housed at State Fair, said Weston.
– Meg Jones
5 p.m.: Amazon hires 700 new employees in Wisconsin to meet surge in demand
Amazon said this week it has hired more than 80,000 employees to meet the surge in demand from people buying items online and having them delivered.
The digital company, now one of the world’s largest retailers, said it has hired more than 700 new employees in Wisconsin.
“The new hires in Wisconsin fill a range of roles, including picking, packing, and shipping customer orders and delivering packages from delivery stations to meet the needs of the COVID-19 demand surge,” Amazon said in a statement.
Many of those who were hired have been “impacted by layoffs related to COVID-19 and come from a variety of fields and life situations, including restaurant cooks, bartenders and servers, flight attendants, teachers, business owners, personal trainers, valet drivers, rideshare drivers, retirees, part-time workers whose jobs are now on hold, and people ‘who just wanted to help out,’” according to the statement.
Amazon says it is continuing to hire. Interested candidates can visit www.amazon.com/jobsnow to apply.
The jobs “start with minimum pay of $17 per hour through the end of April, which is an increase of $2 per hour since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and come with company benefits on day one, for full-time and some part-time positions,” according to the statement.
— Joe Taschler
4:20 p.m.: County buses in Milwaukee will be limited to 10 people
Starting Thursday, Milwaukee County buses will allow only 10 people onboard because of the need for social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.
County Executive Chris Abele announced the change Tuesday afternoon and said the county is putting more buses on busy routes to handle passengers.
If a bus already has 10 people on board, it will not stop to pick up passengers.
“I apologize to people who have to wait longer,” Abele said.
He reiterated concerns about overcrowding in the confined spaces of buses and said they should be used only for workers who need to travel to essential jobs or used to go to medical appointments.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, buses are “not there just for a convenience,” said Abele.
– Meg Jones
12:57 p.m.: Popular Bellin Run converted to virtual race
The 44th annual Bellin Run scheduled for June will be converted into a virtual-only event because of the coronavirus, race organizers announced Tuesday.
“It is with heavy hearts but clear purpose that we announce this fundamental change to our 2020 event,” race director Randy Van Straten said in a statement. “Bellin Health is a health system first, and at this time we must focus our attention and resources on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and protecting our patients and communities.”
Runners who already have registered for this year’s event have a few options. They can elect to do the virtual run, defer their registration fee to the 2021 event or receive a refund. Those asking for a refund will be subject to a small charge for online registration fees.
— Scott Venci
12:55 p.m.: Wisconsin National Guard sets up isolation facility for homeless
The Wisconsin National Guard has set up an isolation facility for the homeless in Milwaukee County on the grounds of the St. Francis de Sales Seminary in St. Francis.
The facility plans to be manned with 10 medics and 15 other “citizen soldiers” to provide 24/7 support to those who want to be safe from the coronavirus or protect themselves from infecting others.
The City of Milwaukee Health Department and Milwaukee County Housing Division designated Clare Hall at the property as the isolation facility for referrals from the area homeless shelters and health care facilities that have individuals who are struggling to find stable housing.
The National Guard expects to house individuals in the facility later this week.
— Ricardo Torres
10:01 a.m.: Is alcohol business suffering? Molson Coors says it is
Even as alcohol sales have risen during the coronavirus pandemic, Molson Coors warns that its overall business could be harmed by the shutdown of bars, restaurants, sporting events and festivals.
A weakened economy alone could encourage consumers to buy cheaper drinks, said the Chicago-based brewer with a large presence in Milwaukee in a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
“Under difficult economic conditions, consumers may seek to reduce discretionary spending by forgoing purchases of our products or by shifting away from our above-premium products to lower-priced products,” Molson Coors said in the March 27 filing.
The bigger impact could be from lost sales at bars, restaurants, sporting events, festivals and other large gatherings. “We expect that such closures may increase as COVID-19 continues to spread globally,” the company said.
Molson Coors warned that its business in 2020 could be “significantly affected” by the impact of COVID-19.
Still, U.S. sales of alcoholic beverages rose 55% in the week of March 21, according to the most recent figures from market research firm Nielsen, largely as consumers rushed to fill their pantries amid the fear of shortages.
Spirits like tequila, gin and pre-mixed cocktails led the way, jumping 75% from a year earlier. Wine sales were up 66%, while beer sales rose 42%.
— Rick Barrett
7:50 a.m.: Waukesha church hosting emergency blood drive
Due to the overwhelming needs of the community, Fox River Christian Church is hosting a blood drive from 8 a.m. to noon and 3 to 7 p.m. Friday at the church, W46 W24130 Lawndale Road, Waukesha.
The church is also holding a food drive from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Easter Sundayat the Waukesha location as well as the Muskego campus, S67 W19491 Tans Drive. The food drive is a drive-thru and drop-off event. All events adhere to the COVID-19 protection guidelines
— Debi Eimer
6:45 a.m.: 2 sheriff’s employees, including deputy, test positive
Two Milwaukee County sheriff’s employees tested positive for the coronavirus, according to a statement from the sheriff’s office late Monday night.
“We continue to see the spread of COVID-19 throughout our community and now into the workplace,” Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas said. “We will continue to take every precaution to ensure the safety of the members of the Sheriff’s Office, the people entrusted to our care and the community we serve.”
These cases mark the first two positive cases of coronavirus in the department. The sheriff’s office has conducted an internal contact tracing to determine if either member had contact with other members of the sheriff’s office.
According to the release, the officers include a deputy sheriff in the Court Services Division and a stores clerk in the Milwaukee County Jail, and both are in self-isolation.
The deputy, assigned to the Vel R. Phillips Youth and Family Justice Center, was sent home April 1 after experiencing symptoms of the virus. She later was tested and found to be positive for COVID-19. The deputy’s daily assignment did not involve contact with in-custody youths or members of the public.
The stores clerk, assigned to the property room at the Milwaukee County Jail, was sent home March 26 due to an elevated temperature. The clerk was later tested and found to be positive for COVID-19. The clerk’s duties and responsibilities do not involve any contact with the public or persons in custody.
UPDATE: The first version of this entry indicated that two sheriff’s deputies had tested positive instead of one deputy and one stores clerk
— Ricardo Torres
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