Live coronavirus updates: Milwaukee-area leaders say racial inequities must be addressed

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

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5:50 p.m.: ‘This is a clarion call’: Milwaukee-area leaders say racial inequities must be addressed

The disproportionate burden of COVID-19 being felt in Milwaukee’s African American community should be a call to action to address longstanding racial inequities, Milwaukee-area leaders said Friday.

“This is a clarion call for everyone to look around and address the inequities and the racial disparities as well as the socioeconomic disparities throughout Milwaukee county and not only just Milwaukee County but throughout Wisconsin and around our nation,” said Milwaukee County Supervisor Felesia A. Martin during a virtual press conference Friday afternoon.

She said the county is committed to achieving racial equity over the long term, including in its contracts.

Martin was among the government, health care and community leaders who spoke to the systemic reasons for the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on the county’s African American community

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, too, called for action.  

“We often gloss over this in this community, but if we can’t take what is the most tragic and boldfaced illustration of how far behind this community is for the African American community as a mandate to not just flag it but to do something, then we haven’t learned anything,” Abele said.

—Alison Dirr

3:02 p.m.: Four residents of Glendale nursing home hospitalized with COVID-19

Four residents of Symphony Nursing Home in Glendale have been hospitalized and tested positive for COVID-19. 

Lauryn Allison, director of communications for Symphony Care Network, said the patients were hospitalized at varying times in the past two weeks and were still hospitalized as of Friday. She said she did not know the date of the first positive test. 

Allison said the corporation immediately notified public health officials, residents, residents’ families, and staff. There was not a public announcement until the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel inquired Friday. 

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The North Shore Health Department was notified March 19, three weeks ago, of a hospitalized resident from Symphony of Glendale, said health department director Ann Christiansen. 

Christiansen said staff worked with the facility to track down those who may have been exposed and finished their investigation April 1. On April 3, she told a North Shore Now reporter there were no known outbreaks in long-term care facilities. 

In an email Friday, Christiansen clarified her April 3 comment: “This is true, but as you know, COVID-19 is a fast-moving virus and we are learning of new cases every day.”

The health department was notified April 8 that an additional Symphony resident tested positive, and was notified of two additional cases since Thursday afternoon, Christiansen said. 

“NSHD is working with Symphony of Glendale to identify staff and residents who were exposed and make sure the facility is taking all necessary precautions to control further spread,” Christiansen wrote in an email. 

Related:How the North Shore Health Department is trying to contain and prevent the spread of the coronavirus

The North Shore Health Department shares daily coronavirus updates on its Facebook page. As of Thursday, the department reported 29 active cases in the North Shore, which includes Bayside, Brown Deer, Fox Point, Glendale, River Hills, Shorewood and Whitefish Bay. It reported three North Shore residents have died from COVID and 47 recovered. 

At Symphony, Allison said staff have enough personal protective equipment, though she said donations of unopened masks and gloves approved by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health would be “tremendously valuable.” 

— Rory Linnane

2:36 p.m.: Bucks establish fund as means of distributing support to employees

The Bucks announced on Friday the organization established a $500,000 fund which will be handled by the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and distributed to Fiserv Forum’s part-time employees.

The entire Buck roster donated money to the fund, including $100,000 each from its two all-stars, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. The team’s owners have promised to match the player contributions.

Nearly 1,600 part-time workers received a link to an application and instructions to apply by April 17 so checks can be received by the third or fourth week of the month. Last month, the team paid $500,000 to the part time arena workers.

People can also donate to the fund online. 

The fund has been set up so the money that is distributed will count as a “gift” and not count as income so the employees can receive unemployment insurance.

— Ricardo Torres

1:05 p.m.: Evers reiterates that golf courses will remain closed

In a radio interview with 620 WTMJ in Milwaukee on Friday morning, Gov. Tony Evers confirmed that golf courses will continue to be closed to the public as part of the Safer at Home order. 

Golfing has been a topic of discussion since courses were named non-essential in Evers’ order, with a group of 40 Republican lawmakers even urging Evers to allow golf courses to reopen if they agree to follow social distancing and safety guidelines aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I know that’s been a hot topic which is interesting because we have life and death situations going on where we’re making decisions,” Evers said Friday. “I’m not belittling the golf. All things where people ask us to reconsider, we reconsider, but we’re not at the point now to say we’re going to open up golf courses.

“We will continue to monitor the science on that and when the science says to do that, we will do it.”

Read the full story.

— Curt Hogg

11:53 a.m.: German Fest has been canceled

German Fest Milwaukee Inc. announced on Facebook that its annual German Fest, scheduled for July 24-26 at the Henry Maier festival grounds, has been canceled because of the pandemic.

It’s the first time the festival has ever been canceled. 

Any purchased tickets for the 2020 event will be honored in 2021.

Read full story.

11:49 a.m.: Humane Society distributing massive dog food donation

The Wisconsin Humane Society has received more than 40,000 pounds of dog food in one donation, it announced Thursday on its Facebook page, and will distribute it at locations around the state.

Those struggling financially to feed their dogs are able to pick up the food from the donation at the following sites. People are encouraged to call individual locations for more information.

Read the full story.

— Curt Hogg

11:42 a.m.: Glendale woman designs yard signs to acknowledge essential workers

Glendale’s Sue Roska decided to do something she had never done before. She designed a yard sign and worked with Neil Eisendrath of Signs & Banners Today to create 50 blue-and-white signs that read, “Thank you! to our frontline heroes” with the words “Essential Workers” in the middle.

Eisendrath, who does the sign work for The Brick Pub & Grill, had never interacted with Roska but gave her a discount on the cost of the signs. It still cost Roska more than $300 — about $6 a sign — but to her, it was more than worth it.

On Wednesday morning, she posted on Nextdoor, inviting all of her neighbors to stop by that afternoon to pick up a sign — free of charge and following all social-distancing guidelines, of course — to place in their yard. They all went quickly. 

She challenged her neighbors to keep the gratitude going by ordering more signs. As of Thursday, Roska knows that at least four other people have contacted Eisendrath and ordered signs.

Read the full story.

— Matt Velazquez

11:28 a.m.: Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest to remain closed down

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, which covers more than 1.5 million acres in northern Wisconsin, announced Thursday it was delaying the opening of all recreation sites and campgrounds until further notice.

The move came after Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers directed the Department of Natural Resources to close 40 state parks and recreation sites, mostly in southern Wisconsin. All state park campgrounds had been closed in March. The state is under a safer-at-home order, which only allows for essential travel. 

The CNNF and forest roads remain open for hiking, biking and scenic drives — for people who live in the area — but the following areas are closed until further notice: 

  • Developed campgrounds (any existing reservations for May will be cancelled and will receive refunds) 
  • Dispersed or backcountry camping 
  • Trails (motorized and non-motorized designated trails)
  • Day use areas, including trailheads, picnic areas, boat landings, beaches and the Mountain Fire Lookout Tower
  • Lost Lake Cabins, Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center and Forest Lodge
  • All restroom facilities

Read the full story.

— Chelsey Lewis

11:20 a.m.: Inmates and ACLU ask Wisconsin Supreme Court to release prisoners

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin asked the state Supreme Court on Friday to force Gov. Tony Evers’ administration to release inmates to mitigate the spread of coronavirus and protect vulnerable prisoners.

The lawsuit contends one inmate with kidney disease and another with cardiac disease are being put at serious risk by being kept in a prison system where the illness is spreading. 

Ordinarily, lawsuits are filed in circuit court and take months or years to get to the state Supreme Court. But the inmates and ACLU are presenting their case directly to the high court in hopes it will deal with the issue quickly because the coronavirus pandemic is widening around the globe. 

Five inmates had tested positive for COVID-19 at two Department of Corrections facilities as of Friday morning, according to the department’s website — two at Columbia Correctional Institution and three at Oshkosh Correctional Institution.

Read the full story.

— Patrick Marley

10:47 a.m.: Local high schools honoring seniors by turning on field lights at night

The nine Waukesha County schools that form the Classic 8 Conference will have their stadium lights shining brightly at their athletic fields on Friday night, even without competitions because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“With the abrupt end to our winter season and current delay for our spring season, we would like to take a moment and recognize our spring sport athletes and let our seniors know that we are thinking of them,” the conference athletic directors said in a release. “Our focus is to bring solidarity for our conference and communities.” 

The nine schools are: Arrowhead, Catholic Memorial, Kettle Moraine, Mukwonago, Muskego, Oconomowoc, Waukesha North, Waukesha South and Waukesha West.

The lights at each school’s football and soccer stadiums will be turned on around 7:30 p.m. Muskego announced it would be lighting its fields for 20 minutes in honor of its class of 2020 seniors.

The schools will do so next Friday, as well.

Community members are also asked to turn porch lights on during the time to honor the spring athletes and seniors whose seasons and high school careers are in question.

Read the full story. 

— Curt Hogg

10:19 a.m.: Alice in Dairyland changes dates, format

The 73rd Alice in Dairyland Finals have been pushed back a month to June 19-20 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, because of social distancing, the events will be livestreamed for public viewing, with the question and answer session June 19 and the final on June 20.

A new host schedule for future events was also set.

Walworth County will host in 2021, Dane County will host in 2022 and Dunn County will host in 2023.

This year’s six finalists are: Rachel Gerbitz of Milton, Erica Helmer of Plymouth, Stephanie Hoff of Thorp, Kaitlin Konder of Glenwood City, Julia Nunes of Chippewa Falls and Grace Schroeder of Cashton.

The event annually selects an ambassador for the state’s agriculture industry, determining who will represent the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection in a one-year full-time public relations capacity.

The current Alice in Dairyland is Abigail Martin of Rock County.

— Bill Glauber

10:09 a.m.: Yelich, Braun donate to front-line workers

With the 2020 Major League Baseball season on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic, Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun still are waiting to suit up for the Milwaukee Brewers. But that did not stop them from trying to make a major impact in the community during a time of need.

The 3rd Street Market Hall announced a partnership Friday with Braun and Yelich as well as several local companies to provide meals for front-line healthcare workers at four major hospital networks: Froedtert Hospital & Medical College of Wisconsin, Aurora, Ascension and Children’s Wisconsin.

The first donation event will take place Sunday at Froedtert, with 1,000 meals distributed to healthcare workers to take home and enjoy with their families on Easter.

Read the full story.

— Tom Haudricourt

9:33 a.m.: Manitowoc ferry will delay start of its 2020 season

The popular car ferry S.S. Badger, which carries passengers across Lake Michigan from Manitowoc, will delay the start of its 2020 season by about a month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The car ferry was set to break anchor on May 8, but officials have pushed the ferry’s first trip to May 29, according to Pat McCarthy, vice president of Lake Michigan Car Ferry LLC, which owns the Badger.

“We are looking forward to a successful season,” he said. “But based on the information we have, we decided it was best to push things back to the end of May.”

Read the full story.

— Patti Zarling

8:49 a.m.: MLB considering radical realignment for 2020 season?

If there is baseball in 2020, it could look dramatically different than a usual season.

Bob Nightengale is reporting that Major League Baseball is assessing a radical plan that would elimate the traditional American League and National League for the season, and the plan would have all 30 teams returning to their spring-training sites in Florida and Arizona, with regular-season games only in those two states and without fans.

The Brewers would be slotted in the “Cactus League Northwest” in a division with the San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals.

Read the full story.

8:05 a.m.: Five more deaths bring Milwaukee County total to 72

The coronavirus death toll in Milwaukee County has risen to 72, up from 67 on Thursday. The total number of positive cases in the county is up to 1,587. 

Yesterday, confirmed cases in Wisconsin increased by 129, the smallest single-day increase since March 30, but there were also fewer new test results than any date since March 30.

Deaths across Wisconsin were at 111 Thursday. Milwaukee County reported on Thursday afternoon 1,560 confirmed cases, including more than 1,200 in the city of Milwaukee.

— Ricardo Torres

5:40 p.m.: UWM moves summer classes online, reschedules commencement for Oct. 10

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee joined UW-Madison, the Milwaukee Area Technical College and several other Wisconsin colleges in moving its summer session online.

The university also rescheduled its commencement ceremony for Oct. 10. Officials are still deciding if they will host one ceremony or two. Some schools and colleges are discussing recognizing graduates in alternative formats in may as well.

— Devi Shastri

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