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: Tuesday’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 p.m.: Milwaukee’s Pfister and all other Marcus Corp. hotels close temporarily
The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, as well as every other hotel owned by Marcus Corp., will be closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
Marcus Hotels & Resorts, a division of Marcus Corp., owns or manages 20 hotels, totaling 5,400 rooms, in Wisconsin and seven other states. In March, the company closed a number of its properties — including the Hilton Milwaukee City Center and Saint Kate arts hotel — but kept the Pfister open.
The other hotels involved in the newest round of closures are: Hilton Madison Monona Terrace in Madison, The Platinum Hotel in Las Vegas and the AC Hotel Chicago Downtown in Chicago.
— Sophie Carson
4:30 p.m.: Lakefront Brewery will give free beer to health care workers on April 14
Lakefront Brewery, 1872 N. Commerce St., will give health care workers each a 6-pack of Riverwest Stein on April 14 — also known as 414 Day.
Health care workers can stop by the brewery from noon to 8 p.m. for the free 6-pack and a special limited 414 glass while supplies last.
Health care workers must be 21 years or older and show their health care ID.
— Kathy Flanigan
4:05 p.m.: Seven inmates test positive, two hospitalized
Seven inmates at Milwaukee County’s House of Correction have now tested positive for the coronavirus, and two are hospitalized.
HOC Superintendent Michael Hafemann made the announcement Wednesday afternoon during a remote news conference with other local officials.
Hafemann said that in addition to the inmates, four HOC staff have tested positive and 21 other staffers are self-quarantining because they have either had some symptoms or been exposed to people who have COVID-19.
Hafemann said each dormitory at the Franklin facility is now sanitized three times a day, at the start of each shift, and that all common areas are sanitized twice a day. He said the facility has an adequate supply of soap and wipes, and that staff members wear masks “when appropriate.”
The HOC typically houses about 1,000 inmates serving sentences under a year, or terms under a year as a condition of a probation sentence on a felony. Many HOC inmates also typically had work release privileges, but in an effort to reduce the population in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, many have been released early.
On Wednesday, the population at the facility was around 725.
— Bruce Vielmetti
4 p.m.: Boswell Books to end sidewalk pickup service
Milwaukee’s Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer Ave., will end sidewalk pickup for books Saturday for at least two weeks, owner Daniel Goldin said in a message to customers.
“I’ve been persuaded by many other booksellers that this is the best course of action for the weeks ahead leading to peak,” Goldin wrote.
Boswell will continue to take phone and website orders for shipping and limited delivery.
“I’m hoping that when cases plateau and there are enough hospital beds, PPE, masks, ventilators, testing kits, and thermometers, or maybe even just some of those things, we’ll feel comfortable at least going back to sidewalk pickup, and someday, someday, we’ll get to reopen our physical space, which now looks a bit more like a warehouse than a bookstore,” Golden wrote.
— Jim Higgins
3:45 p.m.: Harley sales fall as coronavirus closes dealerships, threatens events
A flash of warm weather should be heating up motorcycle sales now, but the effect of coronavirus on the economy has kept buyers out of dealerships.
In the U.S., some Harley-Davidson dealers reported very slow business in the second half of March, according to a survey released Wednesday by analyst Robin Farley with UBS Investment Research.
The world’s largest manufacturer of heavyweight motorcycles continued to ban its dealers from selling bikes online, she said, although “they have now looked the other way to let dealers sell parts and accessories online.”
Harley isn’t offering many sales promotions now, Farley said, which isn’t surprising given that scores of dealerships are temporarily closed anyway.
With a few exceptions, dealers won’t be getting additional model-year 2020 bikes, according to Farley, as the company has suspended manufacturing and placed most of its factory employees on temporary layoff.
Many riding events have been canceled, including the Myrtle Beach Bike Rally, in South Carolina, that usually kicks off the riding season in May for thousands of motorcyclists.
— Rick Barrett
3:15 p.m.: Doctor who recovered from coronavirus is first to donate plasma to new program
A doctor who tested positive for the coronavirus in March — which led to more than 100 employees and patients at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin being tested for COVID-19 — was the first person to donate plasma to a new program designed to help coronavirus patients.
Dr. Dave Lal, a pediatric oncologist at Children’s Hospital Wisconsin, donated plasma to the Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin’s convalescent plasma program. The donations will be provided to hospitals participating in the program, which could help those who are severely ill with coronavirus.
One plasma donation can be used to treat multiple patients, according to a news release.
— Evan Casey
3 p.m.: Officials report more than 2,750 confirmed virus cases, 100 deaths
Wisconsin’s confirmed cases of coronavirus increased by 178, to 2,756, on Wednesday, the same day that known deaths due to COVID-19 surpassed 100.
According to state and county reports, 103 people had died of coronavirus in Wisconsin by Wednesday afternoon’s Department of Health Services update, including 58 people in Milwaukee County.
At least 790 people who tested positive, or three in 10, had been hospitalized.
Growth in total confirmed cases has leveled off somewhat in the past week, with single-digit percentage increases for four consecutive days after regular double-digit growth.
That suggests the growth curve of new cases is flattening, but confirmed cases may be limited somewhat by available tests.
12:22 p.m.: Why is toilet paper still so hard to find?
USA Today attempts to get to the bottom of the toilet paper shortage that continues to plague shoppers looking for the product at grocery stores.
“I can’t give you an exact number, but I will tell you we’re making more than ever,” said Arist Mastorides, president of family care for Wisconsin-rooted Kimberly-Clark North America, maker of Cottonelle toilet paper and other paper products. “It’s a significant amount to cover what we think will be used with people traveling less and staying home more.”
The bottom line: Without half the day spent at the office, Americans are using more home toilet paper than they have before, and it’s not a product that operates on seasonal shifts, so ramping up the supply chain hasn’t been so easy. Read the full story.
12:18 p.m.: Most coronavirus patients on ventilators won’t survive
While governors, mayors and hospital officials conduct much-publicized life-and-death struggles to acquire ventilators, for most COVID-19 patients the oxygen-providing apparatus will merely serve as a bridge from life to death.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently estimated that only 20% of coronavirus patients placed on ventilators “will ever come off.” Dennis Carroll, who led the U.S. Agency for International Development’s infectious disease unit for more than a decade, told USA TODAY perhaps one-third of COVID-19 patients on ventilators survive.
But for many, ventilators represent their last chance.
“If you were one of the one-third, I suspect you’d be very appreciative that that capability was available,” Carroll said.
12:13 p.m.: Milwaukee transit now limiting number of bus passengers
Starting Thursday, the Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) will permit a maximum of 10 passengers on a bus at any given time, an effort to help avoid close contact with others during the coronavirus crisis.
MCTS is also adding incremental service to help overcrowding and reduce wait times if buses are full. Buses continue to operate for essential trips only, defined by MCTS as “obtaining necessary supplies and services to sustain your life and the lives of others, or traveling to and from employment at an ‘essential business’ that is ‘necessary to sustain life.'”
No leisure riding, loitering or sleeping is permitted, and riders should plan extra time for travel. Riders are also asked to enter and exit the bus through the back door and leave space between other riders.
For bus-riding guidelines and more information, visit RideMCTS.com/Coronavirus.
— JR Radcliffe
12:08 p.m.: Unemployment claims level off
The number of initial unemployment claims filed with the State of Wisconsin appears to have plateaued in recent days, a review of the numbers shows.
So far this week, 34,410 initial applications for unemployment compensation have been filed, according to the Department of Workforce Development.
During the same three days a week ago, there were 55,280 claims filed.
During the same three-day period two weeks ago, there were nearly 51,000 initial claims filed.
A review of the numbers shows initial claims peaked March 30 when nearly 25,000 new claims were filed.
The number of new claims still remains high. Just over 10,000 new claims were filed Tuesday.
For the week so far, the number of claims filed is 14 times the number for the same three-days last year. which was 2,450.
Since March 15, just over 323,000 initial unemployment claims have been filed with the State of Wisconsin.
During the same period last year, there were just under 21,000 initial claims filed.
— Joe Taschler
11:35 a.m.: Wisconsin reaches 100 deaths due to coronavirus
At least 100 people have died in Wisconsin from COVID-19 as Milwaukee County reported Wednesday morning the death of a 75-year-old African American man who died from the disease.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is tracking data on deaths from around the state.
That latest death is typical of those so far in Milwaukee County: 39 of the 56 deaths were African Americans, according to a Journal Sentinel analysis of the figures. Of those, 23 were men and 16 were women. All but one of the victims from Milwaukee County had underlying health conditions, according to records.
The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office was publicly reporting Wednesday morning 57 deaths from the coronavirus. However, that figure includes at least one resident from outside Milwaukee, a Pewaukee woman who died last month at Froedtert Hospital. The state is counting that woman under Waukesha’s total, which stood at five Wednesday morning.
The state’s total count of deaths has generally lagged, in particular reporting Milwaukee total deaths. Officials said a death is not counted in the state tally until a death certificate is received.
To date, only Milwaukee and Fond du Lac counties have publicly provided details about the deaths such as the victim’s gender, age, race and underlying conditions. Other counties have refused, saying disclosure of any information including gender could identify the person who died.
— John Diedrich
11:26 a.m.: Costco to give priority access to health care workers and first responders
Costco is temporarily allowing priority access to its warehouses for Costco members who are health care workers and first responders, such as police officers, EMTs and firefighters.
Health care workers and first responders who present a Costco membership card and official identification of their role will be allowed to move to the front of any line to enter the warehouse.
Costco also opens from 8 to 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday exclusively for members 60 and older or for those with physical impairments.
10:38 a.m.: Gas prices dipping below $1 in multiple locations
Gas prices are dropping as low as 98 cents per gallon in the Milwaukee area as people spend less time driving during the coronavirus pandemic.
A Clark station in Waukesha registered as cheapest in the area on Wednesday, per price tracking site GasBuddy, at 98 cents per gallon.
A couple of stations in the area are at 99 cents per gallon, including the Woodman’s in Waukesha and Costco locations in Pewaukee and New Berlin.
The average gas price in the Milwaukee area is $1.40, per AAA data. The average is $1.23 per gallon in Green Bay, $1.14 per gallon in Appleton and $1.38 per gallon in Madison.
— John Steppe
7:25 a.m.: Fauci bobblehead reaches fundraising milestone for Milwaukee museum
It’s been a week since the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum announced it was creating a bobblehead for Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The Milwaukee museum said Wednesday it has raised more than $100,000 and has gotten purchase orders from all 50 states. Proceeds from the bobblehead help purchase masks for hospitals.
— Ricardo Torres
Wednesday, 6:56 a.m.: Death toll in Milwaukee County up to 55
The number of people dying after contracting the coronavirus continues to rise as Milwaukee County reports another death bringing the death toll to 55. There are also 1,416 confirmed cases in the county.
According to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office, a 50-year-old African American woman died due to complications from COVID-19. The woman was also suffering from obesity, diabetes mellitus, hypertension and chronic congestive heart failure.
In Ozaukee County, the location of numerous outbreaks of the virus at long-term care facilities, two people died on Tuesday after contracting the virus, bringing the death toll to eight in the county, according to the Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department.
— Ricardo Torres
Tuesday, 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’s 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 at wisconsindmv.gov
Also, all driver’s license and commercial driver’s 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 noncommercial driver’s license skills tests have been canceled until further notice.
— Meg Jones
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