Updates on the coronavirus and how it’s affecting life in Wisconsin from reporters from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin.
Blog Recap: Coronavirus updates from Thursday
Daily Digest: What you need to know about coronavirus in Wisconsin
More Coverage: Coronavirus in the U.S. and around the world
9:55 p.m.: 40 coronavirus cases in Milwaukee now thought to be tied to April 7 election, health commissioner says
In a Friday media briefing, Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik noted that she originally reported there were seven suspected coronavirus cases found in people who voted on election day or worked at the polls
“Now there’s 40 people that showed up,” she said. “We’re analyzing more to show the connections between the people.”
The department was analyzing data from election day, a process she said she hoped would be completed by May 1. She did not elaborate, telling reporters to “stay tuned.”
Gov. Tony Evers attempted to delay the election out of fears that masses of people at polling places would result in more people contracting the deadly COVID-19 disease. The governor’s eleventh-hour bid was blocked by the Republican-dominated state Legislature and Supreme Court.
8:37 p.m.: 2 at Beloit’s Hormel Foods plant have tested positive for coronavirus
Two employees at the Hormel Foods plant in Beloit have tested positive for coronavirus, the company and Rock County Public Health Department said Friday.
“As team members are impacted by COVID-19, we are doing what’s right, and that includes quarantining and ensuring all close contacts are identified and also quarantined,” the company said.
The firm said it is also “communicating transparently with our team members, including translating communications into approximately 10 languages.”
The company said it paused operations in three out of its 30 production facilities.
There have been 120 confirmed coronavirus cases and four people have died of the disease in Rock County, the Health Department said.
8:09 p.m.: Coronavirus has cost Milwaukee $6.7 million so far
The city of Milwaukee is estimating the coronavirus pandemic and the resulting economic shutdown has cost the city $6.7 million in revenue between March and April.
The figure compares the budgeted revenue to the actual revenue for those two months.
The biggest hits are in areas including the Department of Public Works services, Department of Neighborhood Services inspections, parking citations and parking payments made at parking structures, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett told the Journal Sentinel on Friday.
If the economic challenges continue, the city’s budget office is projecting that revenue losses between May and August could tally $26.5 million.
He didn’t have figures available for the amount the city estimates it has spent responding to the pandemic. But Barrett anticipated that federal funding could be used to cover the amount the city can document it has spent in that response.
He said he is directing his department heads to make sure they can document their coronavirus-related expenditures.
“The bigger issue for us is the loss of revenue,” he said, because there’s no federal assistance to address those losses.
He said his office would have plans next week for responding to the gaps in revenue.
7:31 p.m.: Stay-home order will be enforced in with fines starting May 2 in Milwaukee
Milwaukee Police and the Health Department will be able to issue citations carrying fines of up to $500 for violating Gov. Tony Evers’ stay-at-home order starting May 2, police said Friday.
The violation or obstruction of orders citation can be issued to those who “willfully violates or obstructs the execution of the (Evers) order,” police said.
The governor’s safer-at-home order bans many businesses from operating and bans people from certain activities during the coronavirus pandemic.
The order took effect Friday and is the second one-month stay at home order issued by Evers.
4:21 p.m.: Four nuns from Greenfield convent have died from coronavirus
A fourth nun at Our Lady of the Angels Convent in Greenfield has died from the coronavirus, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office.
Sister Annelda Holtkamp, 102, died April 19 at the convent.
—Bob Dohr and Hannah Kirby
2:59 p.m.: Tame Impala postpones; Fiserv Forum has no scheduled events until August
The lone concert holdout at Fiserv Forum this spring has been postponed.
Tame Impala, scheduled to play the Milwaukee Bucks arena May 30, announced Friday afternoon that their show is postponed indefinitely.
Purchased tickets will be honored for the new date, which has yet to be announced.
With that postponement, the new Milwaukee arena will likely go at least five months without hosting a public event.
The last event there was a March 11 show with the Lumineers, the night before concert promotor giants Live Nation and AEG pulled all their tours off the road. Concert venues and stadiums across the country and the world continue to be dark.
March 11 is also when the NBA suspended its season. There’s still no word if the season will resume, and if so, whether the Bucks would play at Fiserv Forum.
The next scheduled event at the Milwaukee arena at this point is the Democratic National Convention, which has been postponed to the week of Aug. 17, but details have yet to be determined.
After that, the first concert at Fiserv Forum is country pop duo Dan + Shay, scheduled to play Aug. 28, a show that was originally scheduled for April 11.
— Piet Levy
2:29 p.m.: Wisconsin reports record number of new cases as testing also increases sharply
For the second time in three days, Wisconsin health officials reported a record number of positive tests for the coronavirus, with 304 new cases taking the overall total to 5,356.
Nearly half the new cases, or 150, came from Brown County, where outbreaks have been tied to three meatpacking plants.
The record increase in positive tests — the previous high was Wednesday’s 225 — came as the state also reported more than 3,400 test results, nearly 50% more than it has reported in a day previously.
Deaths totaled 262, an increase of five from Thursday.
For the first time Friday, the state also reported a number of people who tested positive and then recovered from COVID-19: a little under half.
The state’s definition of a recovered patient is somebody known to have resolved symptoms or been released from isolation, or somebody who is alive 30 days after developing symptoms or being diagnosed.
The Department of Health Services had yet to update the breakdown by the time it released Friday’s new case totals, but as of Thursday’s numbers:
- 49% of patients did not meet the definition of a recoverd patient
- 46% of COVID-19 patients were listed as recovered
- 5% had died
The Wisconsin Hospital Association reported Friday morning that more than 350 patients were hospitalized with COVID-19 and nearly 200 inpatients were awaiting test results. About 300 patients were ventilated.
– Matt Piper
1:40 p.m.: Fiserv Forum to be distribution site for kits to make 2.5 million masks
For those looking to assist in making masks for the community but lacking the materials, Fiserv Forum could be a place to start.
Starting on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the next three weeks, people will be able to pick up materials to make face coverings thanks to a partnership with the Milwaukee Bucks, Fiserv Forum, Rebel Converting, Medical College of Wisconsin, Greater Milwaukee Foundation, Zilber Family Foundation, United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County and Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity.
Fiserv Forum will serve as a distribution site for 3,500 kits to make 2.5 million nonsurgical masks as part of MaskUpMKE.
“The Bucks and Fiserv Forum are dedicated to doing our part to keep the community strong and healthy during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Bucks Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility Arvind Gopalratnam.
Healthy individuals are invited to visit United Way’s MaskUpMKE site to sign up for a volunteer shift or schedule a time to drive by the Fiserv Forum loading dock to pick up a box of face-covering kits to take home for assembly.
Kits contain instructions and materials to make 700 face coverings. Each face-cover takes approximately one to two minutes to assemble. Volunteers will return their boxes to Fiserv Forum upon completion.
Before and after completion, volunteers will answer questions to ensure they are not exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, among other precautions. MCW has been involved in MaskUpMKE to advise on the public health aspects of the entire project.
– Ricardo Torres
12:50 p.m.: State high court declines move to expedite release of prisoners
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday declined to appoint a special master to expedite the release of state prisoners most at risk for contracting COVID-19.
On April 10, the ACLU, the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and two inmates filed an emergency petition with the court asking for the intervention, to protect the most vulnerable among the state’s roughly 22,000 inmates.
“The court is mindful of the seriousness of the issues presented by the petition,” it said in Friday’s order, but that it is satisfied with the “current efforts being taken to mitigate the risks and harms associated with the COVID-19 pandemic on the incarcerated population of Wisconsin, together with staff and members of the public who interact with these individuals”
The order said the court was not persuaded it had the authority to grant the requested relief, given the many factual determinations involved in deciding which inmates should be released.
Gov. Tony Evers, Department of Corrections Secretary Kevin A. Carr and Parole Commission Chairman John Tate II all opposed the petition.
The petition urged the officials to release inmates using pardons and parole, arguing that doing so is required to avoid unconstitutionally subjecting inmates to cruel and unusual punishment. It asked priority be given to those who are 60 or older and those who are at higher risk of developing severe complications if they are infected with coronavirus.
Larry Dupuis, executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, expressed disappointment at the court’s decision. He said despite the continued spread of the coronavirus and state health officials’ claim that testing inmates should be a priority, “the DOC has only tested 118 people in its care. In the massive Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility, the DOC has only tested 5 people, despite the fact that 3 of those 5 tested positive.
As of Friday, DOC has reported that 13 inmates and 16 staff members have tested positive for the coronavirus.
– Bruce Vielmetti
12:23 p.m.: Facebook group stages virtual counter-protest
On Facebook, Chris Walker, organizer of “A Virtual Protest Against Rallies to End Social Distancing in WI,” asked supporters to post videos or photos of themselves, memes or other images on social media condemning the protests.
“Normally we would be on the other side of those protesters, counter-protesting them, showing up in larger numbers to show them that Wisconsinites, in general, don’t agree with their views,” Walker said. “We can’t go out there right now, that risks their cause, getting things more open and spreading the disease.”
Walker describes himself as a “freelance writer” based in the Madison area.
Walker said the Madison protests risk spreading the disease and doesn’t believe reopening the state would help the economy as much as it would hurt it.
“We support the idea of voicing your opinion; we support the idea of protest,” Walker said. “But we feel that these actions by these individuals are callous, are selfish, they don’t look at the big picture, they only look at the country’s issues through their own lens and not other people’s situations.”
Walker said the Madison protest is “insulting to health care workers who are trying too hard to combat this disease at this time.”
“Out of respect for health care workers, out of respect for everyone trying to do their part, ending social distancing is not the right path to take,” Walker said.
“The economy is not going to snap back into place if we open things up right now,” Walker said. “The economy will rebound someday, our loved ones we want to protect now.”
10:14 a.m.: OSHA opens new investigation into Patrick Cudahy meatpacking plant
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is opening a new investigation into the work conditions of the Patrick Cudahy/Smithfield Foods meatpacking plant, according to OSHA spokeswoman Megan Sweeney.
The spokeswoman said they are opening the new investigation based on a Journal Sentinel story that included the testimony of a worker who said he was never given a face mask before becoming sick with COVID-19, even though he had to work less than 6 feet away from co-workers. Some employees said that they first learned through co-workers that others at the plant had tested positive.
Sweeney said that OSHA had closed previous complaints regarding COVID-19 safety concerns at the plant.
Smithfield Foods announced last week that it would start shutting down the plant to sanitize the premises after several workers tested positive for the coronavirus, but some departments are still operating, workers said.
Both Cudahy Mayor Thomas Pavlic and Smithfield Foods refuse to provide the number of plant workers who tested positive for the coronavirus. Several workers in the plant estimate that dozens could be infected. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said they don’t have that number readily available.
Keira Lombardo, executive vice president of corporate affairs and compliance at Smithfield Foods, said in a statement that the company is implementing the rolling closure of the plant. All departments will remain closed for two weeks since they shut down and will go through deep-cleaning. Certain essential personnel will keep working. These employees, she said in the statement, are being provided personal protective equipment including masks and face shields and are subject to other protective measures.
Lombardo said that when an employee tests positive for COVID-19, all team members with whom the employee has worked in close proximity in the last 14 days are immediately notified.
But workers who said they tested positive for COVID-19 told the Journal Sentinel that no one told them they had worked near a sick co-worker.
– Maria Perez
9:38 a.m.: Nurses line Capitol steps with candles in silent protest of the protests
On April 23, 2020, one day ahead of a planned protest of Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order, Madison nurses displayed more than 1,300 candles at the Wisconsin State Capitol — to represent all of Wisconsin’s COVID-19 hospitalizations. Seen here is nurse Ani Weaver, an RN in the internal medicine clinic Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Nurses lined the state Capitol steps with 1,300 candles Thursday night in tribute to those hospitalized with COVID-19 in Wisconsin. The candles were meant to be a silent protest ahead of a planned protest asking the state to lift the safer-at-home order that will take place at the Capitol at 1 p.m.
SEIU Healthcare, the state’s largest health care workers union, had this to say about today’s protest in Madison:
“These reckless protests show no regard for essential workers who are risking our lives to keep our country running. We face an emergency on two fronts: a public health crisis of a fast-spreading deadly virus and an economic emergency that threatens the well-being of millions. It is time for our elected leaders to step up to protect the health, safety and economic well-being of all people.”
The statement goes on to endorse Gov. Tony Evers’ safer-at-home order saying it is “recommended by public health officials, has drastically slowed the spread of this deadly virus and saved countless lives.
“Reopening the state without proper testing or infrastructure in place will risk further spread and an even greater public health emergency
– Ricardo Torres
7:36 a.m.: Milwaukee County reports 15 new cases, 1 death
Milwaukee County reported 15 new cases of the coronavirus and one new death between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.
The local caseload climbed to 2,436 cases, according to the county’s online dashboard, while deaths reached 145.
In the city of Milwaukee, 1,802 cases were reported as of Friday morning.
– Elliot Hughes
Thursday, April 24, 7 p.m.: 29 House of Correction staff on quarantine at home
Twenty-nine staff members at the Milwaukee County House of Correction are quarantined at home, Superintendent Michael Hafemann said Thursday.
Of those staffers, 10 are quarantined for various reasons, including out-of-town travel, and 19 are directly related to the coronavirus.
Seven have tested positive, nine are presumed positive by their health care providers and three are in “direct contact quarantine,” Hafemann said, meaning they recently had contact with someone who just tested positive.
He said 426 staff members were tested on Monday and Tuesday, and results for about 300 have come back. Other tests are being evaluated or the results are currently being reviewed.
Hafemann estimated they may have about 50 tests pending.
More than 600 inmates were tested over the weekend, and 50 tests are pending, he said. So far 105 inmates have tested positive, 104 of whom are male.
He also said that 104 inmates who tested positive are at the House of Correction and one is on an electronic monitoring program at his home.
Hafemann also took exception with a Journal Sentinel report Wednesday that a HOC inmate had died of COVID-19. That was based on information from the state Department of Health Services, but the DHS spokesman would not clarify or provide additional information Thursday.
An inmate who had been at the HOC briefly before being released to electronic monitoring and home detention on Feb. 18 died on March 15 at a hospital, Hafemann said, but from alcoholism-related complications.
Hafemann said the person was not tested for coronavirus while in HOC custody. No inmates or staff had any symptoms at that time, he said.
It was unclear if hospital officials tested him either before or after he died.
DHS spokeswoman Jennifer Miller said privacy concerns prevented her from saying if that man’s death was the one DHS was counting as occurring in a correctional facility.
– Alison Dirr and Bruce Vielmetti
Read or Share this story: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/2020/04/24/coronavirus-wisconsin-latest-updates-cases-cancellations/3018416001/