Live coronavirus updates: State parks resume normal hours for holiday weekend, bathrooms open next month

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, May 8-11

Daily Digest: What you need to know about coronavirus in Wisconsin

More Coverage: Coronavirus in the U.S. and around the world

12:38 p.m.: Milwaukee churches can reopen in very limit

Churches in Milwaukee can now reopen, but attendance must be capped at a maximum of 10 people, the city’s health commissioner said Friday.

Commissioner Jeannette Kowalik made the announcement during a daily virtual press conference with other local officials. She acknowledged a 10-person maximum was low for a religious gathering, but said it’s all the health department can allow at this time.

“I know there’s been a lot of feedback about that,” Kowalik said. “We’re looking at the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommendations and congregation is still limited to 10 people at this time. We don’t want to have more of a setback by letting things loose too soon.”

– Elliot Hughes

11:55 a.m.: Milwaukee County playgrounds, dog parks reopen

Milwaukee County announced it is reopening its playgrounds, outdoor fitness areas, dog parks, disc golf courses and basketball and tennis courts, effective immediately.

Jen Francis, the county’s interim parks department executive director, announced the changes Friday as the Memorial Day weekend approaches. She and other officials cautioned people about remaining six feet apart from each other, wearing masks and using hand sanitizer.

“Our human instincts are to be out and be with people,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said. “No problem with people being out, but if you’re interacting with other people, please, please wear those face masks.”

Francis added that the county is not cleaning or disinfecting shared surfaces at its outdoor locations and that they are being offered at a “use-at-your-own-risk basis.”

Additionally, Barrett also announced Friday that one of the city’s two free testing sites – at the Midtown Center, at 5700 W. Capitol Dr. – will be closed next week, beginning Tuesday. The other testing site, at UMOS, 2701 S. Chase Ave., will remain open with new hours beginning Tuesday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

– Elliot Hughes

11:50 a.m.: State parks to resume hours, bathrooms open next month

MADISON – State parks will resume normal hours this weekend but visitors won’t have access to bathrooms until early next month, the Department of Natural Resources announced Friday.

The parks have been operating with reduced daily hours and have been closed completely on Wednesdays as the state grapples with the coronavirus pandemic. Visitors have had no access to park restrooms.

The DNR said all parks will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. starting Saturday subject to property-specific capacity restrictions, which can be found on the DNR website at:

Patrons won’t have access to bathrooms until June 3, however. Towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, entrance stations and concession buildings will also remain closed to the public.

All campsites will remain closed until at least June 7. The department plans to reevaluate conditions after that date.

Rock Island State Park will also remain closed, the DNR said. Ferry service to the island has been suspended due to high lake levels.

Four natural areas will remain closed as well, including the Dells of The Wisconsin River; Gibraltar Rock, Parfrey’s Glen; and Pewits Nest, due to public health concerns.

– The Associated Press

7:50 a.m.: Milwaukee County reports 96 new cases, but no additional deaths

Milwaukee County reported another 96 cases of the coronavirus between Thursday afternoon and Friday morning.

The countywide death toll remained at 246 Friday morning, but hospitalizations continued a slow climb while the percentage of positive test results continued to spike, according to the county’s online dashboard.

Milwaukee County’s overall caseload for the coronavirus is now at over 5,700.

After a month of steady declines in hospitalizations, the trend has reversed since hitting a low of 146 on May 14. As of Friday, the county now has 192 hospitalized patients.

Meanwhile, 28 percent of tests came back positive on Wednesday after 27 percent of tests were positive on Tuesday, the most recent data available. The county has a goal of having 10 percent or fewer positive tests, which it has not hit since May 9, when 9% of tests that day were positive.

– Elliot Hughes

Thursday, May 21

5:31 p.m.: Milwaukee issues updated order, allows all businesses to reopen in some fashion

The city of Milwaukee issued an updated stay-at-home order Thursday afternoon, which allows all businesses including gyms to reopen in some fashion, but still bans in-person dining at restaurants and bars.

Gyms must limit their capacity to 10 people and take additional precautions, including distancing and enhanced cleaning, Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said Thursday during a news briefing.

Kowalik also said for retail stores, the limit will be based on square footage. The capacity will be 25% or one person for every 30 square feet.

Business owners should know their capacity and update their signs with that information, she said. 

Milwaukee’s order will continue this weekend, even as suburban municipalities in the county will allow remaining businesses to open Friday.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the city wanted to make sure it was issuing orders that would withstand any challenge that might be made. That led a minor change to be made.

“It in essence still has that 10-person limitation but makes it clear that a number of the businesses can open,” Barrett said.

Kowalik said the city would be using the same five “key indicators” listed on the Milwaukee County dashboard as criteria for reopening.

Those indicators consider COVID-19 cases, testing, hospital care, personal protective equipment supply in major hospitals, and contact tracing.

Kowalik said more specifics would be coming.

Barrett said city officials will re-assess the situation May 28 and each Friday afterward, evaluating the percentage of positive cases, death rates, hospitalizations and other factors.

“My goal is next Friday to have all sorts of good news where we will be able to announce a gradual reopening of a number of establishments,” he said Thursday. “If I have my druthers it will include churches, it will include restaurants and bars, but this not an announcement.”

The mayor said the city is proceeding cautiously. 

“There’s real angst of ‘isn’t this over with?'” Barrett said. “We have to recognize there are a lot of people that are still very much in harm’s way.”

— Ashley Luthern and Alison Dirr

5:18 p.m.: More Waukesha County festivals canceled

The uncertainty over the coronavirus continues to force organizers of big summer festivals and even a fall event in Waukesha County to change their plans.

The German Christmas Market in Oconomowoc, scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend, is the latest event to be canceled.

Big Bend’s Rumble by the River, a two-day festival that features truck and tractor pulls in July, along with the Donna Lexa Memorial Art Fair, set for August in Wales, have also both been canceled.

Meanwhile, Okauchee Days has postponed its three-day event in June. It hopes to reschedule later this summer or fall. 

— Christopher Kuhagen

3:30 p.m.: Labs run more tests in a day than ever before

Labs across Wisconsin ran thousands more coronavirus tests since Wednesday than they have in any single day prior, as state health officials reported an increase of 472 new positive cases Thursday. 

The 472 cases make up about 5% of the 9,410 tests processed since the day before. The previous record for tests in a single day was set Wednesday at just over 6,000. 

The percentage of positive tests announced Thursday is down slightly from Wednesday’s 8% positive tests, which Department of Health Services secretary designee Andrea Palm called a good sign. The percentage of positive tests is one metric state health officials are watching to determine when the state could begin to reopen under Evers’ former stay-at-home order. 

To date, 177,123 Wisconsinites have now been tested for the virus, more than 163,000 of which have come back negative. On Thursday, 13,885 people had tested positive, and nearly six in 10 of those patients have recovered. 

Four hundred and eighty-seven people have died as a result of complications from the virus, an increase of six from Wednesday. 

And in Milwaukee County, hospitalizations from the coronavirus rose to the highest point in a month Thursday, with 192 COVID-19 patients in the county.

The county also reported 83 new coronavirus cases Thursday afternoon since its morning update. Countywide totals now stand at 246 deaths and 5,631 confirmed cases, including nearly 4,400 cases in the city of Milwaukee.

Read more here.

— Madeline Heim

2:55 p.m.: 34 Kohl’s stores reopen in Wisconsin Friday

About two months after closing all stores nationwide, Kohl’s Corp. will reopen 34 of its 41 Wisconsin stores Friday at 11 a.m. 

The remaining seven stores will remain closed until May 26 at 11 a.m. Those stores are in counties with local orders that don’t expire until next week.

All 41 stores have been closed since March 20 when Kohl’s closed all of its more than 1,100 stores nationwide. The seven stores opening Tuesday are Madison East, Madison West, Madison South, Appleton North, Darboy, Racine and Janesville. 

Kohl’s started reopening stores May 4. As of May 18, it had reopened more than 50% of its stores. Kohl’s has been reopening stores on a state-by-state basis by looking at health data, store readiness and local government guidelines. 

Read more here.

— Sarah Hauer

2:50 p.m.: Evers to give $100 million to nursing homes and other care facilities

Gov. Tony Evers said Thursday he would give $100 million to nursing homes and other care facilities as he continued a whirlwind round of announcements to dispense about $2 billion in federal aid to help Wisconsin cope with coronavirus.

“We recognize the significant burden the COVID-19 response has placed on these providers,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “We also recognize the integral role they play in ensuring the health and safety of some of our most vulnerable Wisconsinites and we want to support their efforts during this pandemic.”

The funds for care providers will be awarded in two rounds. Initial payments will be put toward immediate needs. A second round of funding will be targeted for specific providers, according to the governor’s office. 

The funds can be used for costs directly related to the coronavirus outbreak, as well as other expenses, such as higher overtime and sanitation costs. 

The funds will go to emergency medical service providers, long-term care facilities and community-based service providers. The amount individual providers receive in part will depend on how much they receive through the state-federal Medicaid program, Evers said. 

Read more here.

— Patrick Marley

2:45 p.m.: County executive says ‘we are nowhere near the clear’ as suburbs reopen

As businesses in suburban communities in Milwaukee County prepare to reopen, county officials plan to continue to focus on data to help inform the decisions in the future.    

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said will lean on public health officials when making decisions on how or when to reopen, and it will also require public and private entities working together. 

“It’s extremely important when we talk about reopening that, again, we have the business community, government, as well as the public health officials at the table,” Crowley said. “You can reopen but if there’s not consumer confidence out there for people to come to your business, you may be actually spending more money than you would be if you stayed closed.” 

Crowley said his office has been communicating with the municipalities that are allowing businesses to open. He added the decision is ultimately up to the municipalities themselves. 

“We may not be able to put in orders or convince them on what these guidelines need to look like, I think it’s extremely important that we all align the message to protect the public,” Crowley said. 

Crowley said he hopes those municipalities are making sure there are “processes in place to keep this community safe.”  

“I understand the plight that many businesses are in because Milwaukee County is in that same position,” Crowley said. “We’re looking at up to about $100 million in lost revenue. So, we understand why businesses are itching to open up, but we can’t have a healthy economy without a healthy community.” 

In terms the prevalence of the coronavirus in the county, Crowley said he relies on the information from public officials and believes “we are nowhere near the clear, right now.”

“We still need to prepare ourselves for what the new normal is, again, figuring out the ‘how’ versus the ‘when,’” Crowley said.  

With the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturning Gov. Tony Evers’ extension of the safer-at-home order, Crowley said he was “frustrated” with a lack of clarity that came with that ruling. 

“It’s caused a lot of confusion about what reopening looks like,” Crowley said. 

Crowley said his office is going to monitor how the virus has an impact in areas that reopen, but that might take several weeks.  

“We have to see what the data says in a couple of weeks to really get a grip on what we can and cannot do,” Crowley said. 

Crowley encouraged people to spend some time outdoors but with a mask and maintaining significant physical distance from other people.  

— Ricardo Torres

8:13 a.m.: 17 more cases reported in Milwaukee County

Milwaukee county reported 17 more cases of the coronavirus and two more deaths between Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, according to the county’s online dashboard.

That brings countywide totals to more than 5,500 cases and 246 deaths.

The percentage of tests coming back positive has fluctuated in recent days, with that number spiking to 29% on Tuesday, the most recent data available, when 211 new cases were reported.

Hospitalizations had been slowly falling for about a month, but the trend has reversed since May 10, when the county reported a low of 146 patients. On Thursday, the county reported 189 hospitalizations.

A quarter of the county’s ventilators are in use while more than half of hospital beds are occupied, the dashboard said.

Wednesday, May 20

10 p.m.: UW-Madison to close access to popular Terrace with temporary fences

The University of Wisconsin-Madison will close off access to the Memorial Union Terrace and other outdoor lakefront gathering spots with temporary fencing, the school announced Wednesday.

The move comes as the areas have seen “particularly heavy use” in recent weeks — in spite of social distancing guidelines in place, the university said in a statement.

A new order issued Wednesday mandates that people on campus lands must stay six feet away from those not in their household, and they must follow occupancy limits.

They also should not enter areas, such as the Terrace, that are fenced off, according to the order. The university said it will promote voluntary compliance, but those who violate the rules are subject to a citation and fine.

The closures are in effect until the school can figure out a safe way to reopen, said Mark Guthier, associate vice chancellor for student affairs and director of the Wisconsin Union.

“There is nothing like summer on the Terrace and this year more than ever, we are committed to  ensuring our community can enjoy this special place,” Guthier said in a statement. “We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work to put in place measures to welcome members and guests back safely.”

Among the areas closed with fencing: Memorial Union Terrace, Alumni Park, the UW Arboretum, the Lakeshore Nature Preserve, Bascom Hill, Gordon Commons lawn and recreation fields.

The Goodspeed Family Pier is also closed to boaters. See a map of the fencing near the Memorial Union here.

— Sophie Carson

9:30 p.m.: Evers announces $50 million in direct payments to farmers

Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday announced the state would funnel $50 million in federal coronavirus aid to Wisconsin farmers struggling with the economic fallout of the pandemic.

Evers also announced a $15 million program to fill gaps in the food supply chain and help food pantries adapt.

The aid for farmers will come in the form of direct payments, Evers said in a statement. Farmers can apply to the Wisconsin Farm Support Program through the Department of Revenue, the statement said. No details on how to apply were given.

Farmers could receive the payments as early as June, the statement said.

Read more here.

— Sophie Carson

4:15 p.m.: Grant program created for small Milwaukee businesses

Starting May 28, small Milwaukee businesses will be able to apply for grants of up to $15,000 to help them resume their operations.

The application process will end June 12.

Applications can be submitted at when the application process opens.

The grants are for businesses that were established before the end of 2019 with annual revenue of less than $2 million and up to 20 full-time employees.

Eligible expenses for the grants are:    

  • The purchase of personal protective equipment for employees. 
  • Changes to businesses’ physical spaces or operations in order to reduce the coronavirus’s spread. 
  • Restocking inventory that is perishable.

There will also be other rules about what costs businesses can use the grant funds for. 

The Milwaukee Business Restart Program, as it’s been dubbed, will use $20 million in federal CARES Act funds received by the city. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said an additional $3 million will come from Community Development Block Grant funding.

— Alison Dirr

3:50 p.m.: Increase in COVID-19 patients is ‘concerning’ to local health official

Ben Weston, medical services director for Milwaukee County’s Office of Emergency Management, said Wednesday that local hospitals have seen increases in the combined number of COVID-19 patients in recent days. 

“COVID-19 has been constrained in its spread by stay-at-home orders, closed storefronts and canceled gatherings,” he said during a virtual press conference Wednesday. “We’ve slowed the flow of this river with a dam that we’re now dismantling, and there’s no reason to think that we’re not going to get wet.”

He said a week ago there were 146 COVID-19 patients in local hospitals, there are now 189 – a “concerning” increase.

Weston said these figure serve as a reminder that the pandemic is far from over, despite local governments’ efforts to build up infrastructure to face the virus. 

“Reopen businesses with humility, travel but with caution and pull back physical distancing with care and understanding that we’re now facing probably the most dangerous period in our fight against COVID-19,” Weston said.

— Alison Dirr

3:20 p.m.: State health officials report record number of new positive cases, but also most tests processed in a day

State health officials reported 528 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday, setting a new record for the largest one-day increase in cases. 

This record comes in tandem with another, however: the most tests processed in one day, eking out the previous highest day on May 15. The 528 positive cases make up about 8% of the 6,063 tests run since Tuesday, climbing back from a record low of 2.9% positive cases set Monday and 5% positive cases on Tuesday. 

As of Wednesday, 481 people throughout the state had died, an increase of 14 from Tuesday. 

Nearly 60% of patients, or 7,728 of the 13,413 total positive cases in the state, have now recovered, according to the DHS website.

Milwaukee County has reported 346 new coronavirus cases since its Tuesday afternoon update, one of its biggest daily increases ever.

The jump in positive cases pushed countywide confirmed cases past 5,500 Wednesday afternoon. 

The seven-day average of new positive cases per day is at its highest point ever as well, at 142.3 cases per day. A month ago, on April 20 — when testing was less widespread — the daily average was 60.1.

Milwaukee County reports 244 deaths from the virus and 5,531 cases, including more than 4,300 in the city of Milwaukee.

After more than a month of slow decline, Milwaukee County hospitalizations are trending upwards, from 146 patients on Thursday to 189 as of Wednesday.

Read more here.

— Madeline Heim and Sophie Carson

3 p.m.: Coronavirus cases now in all 72 counties as Langlade and Taylor report first cases

The coronavirus has now been found in all of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, as health officials in Langlade and Taylor counties reported their first cases Wednesday.

Each of the two north central Wisconsin counties reported that a single resident tested positive — the final counties to confirm cases more than two months after Gov. Tony Evers issued a safer-at-home order to flatten the curve of the coronavirus pandemic. The reports also came exactly a week after the state Supreme Court struck down Evers’ order, allowing businesses around the state to reopen immediately. 

In Taylor County, the person who tested positive had contact with another northern Wisconsin resident who had a confirmed case of the virus, according to a news release from the Taylor County Health Department.

In Langlade County, health officials are still working to determine how the person who tested positive was exposed to the virus, according to a news release from the Langlade County Health Department.

Read more here.

— Natalie Brophy

2:30 p.m.: Glendale mayor optimistic about reopening

As businesses in communities surrounding the city of Milwaukee plan to reopen, Glendale Mayor Bryan Kennedy feels things will go well in their area of the county. 

“I feel like we’ve done a very good job, here in the North Shore, among the seven communities because we have done everything in lock step in the north shore,” Kennedy said.

“We have one health department for the seven North Shore communities,” he continued. “Each one of the villages, as well as the city of Glendale, work closely with our health officer making sure we are all in line doing exactly the same things, so it makes for consistency among the 65,000 people that live in these seven communities.” 

Kennedy’s one concern is that some people out and about this weekend won’t be from one of the North Shore communities, which could cause an increase in coronavirus cases.  

“I do have concerns about the fact that this is a region, we’re not just 65,000 people on the North Shore,” Kennedy said. “I do believe there will be a lot of movement. That’s why we’ve worked so hard as a county to try to keep everybody on the same page together. That’s why 18 suburbs all did the exact same thing at the exact same time.” 

Glendale has had about 40 coronavirus cases, Kennedy said, and most of those infected are recovering. 

Kennedy said he is focused on making sure businesses that decide to open have all the information they need to do so safely for their employees and customers.  

“One of our big fitness clubs is going to be reopening this weekend and we’ve talked with them about all the different measures they’ve put in place and they hired experts to help guide them,” Kennedy said. “I feel like we’ve been doing a very good job in educating business owners and they’ve been very grateful for the information we provided and there’s been a good dialogue.” 

When asked if businesses will be asked to shut down again if there is a spike in positive cases, Kennedy said he hasn’t talked with area leaders about that.  

“I’ve not had conversations about what we do in the future. Right now it is what are we planning to do right now, how are we helping in assisting businesses in reopening,” Kennedy said.

— Ricardo Torres

1:15 p.m.: Ozaukee, Washington counties offer free drive-thru coronavirus testing

Residents in Ozaukee and Washington counties will soon be able to receive free drive-thru coronavirus testing close to home.

The Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department, North Shore Health Department and Wisconsin National Guard are offering free drive-thru COVID-19 testing from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 28-30 at Concordia University Wisconsin, 12800 N. Lake Shore Drive, Mequon. 

In Washington County, free drive-thru testing will be available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. June 1-3 at Washington County Fair Park, 3000 County Highway PV, West Bend.

The tests are available to all Wisconsin residents with or without COVID-19 symptoms.

Individuals must register ahead of time by calling 262-365-5878. Registration opens May 26, running from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through June 2.

– Jeff Rumage

12:13 p.m.: Prison reform groups protest for more urgent state response

Advocates for prison reform tried flooding Gov. Tony Evers with messages at 11 a.m. Wednesday in a virtual protest of what they say has been a lukewarm response to the threat of major COVID-19 outbreaks among the state’s prisoners.

More than 300 people had registered to participate.

Since Evers’ declared a health emergency more than two months ago, various groups have raised concerns that jails and prisons are prime environments for the coronavirus to spread rapidly and sicken or kill the facilities’ vulnerable residents. Jails and prisons in other states have suffered major outbreaks that created hot spots of infection in their surrounding communities.

The Department of Corrections has taken some steps to reduce populations and limit the impact of the disease, and so far says only 34 inmates have tested positive, along with 32 staff.

But during a virtual news conference ahead of the protest, WISDOM director David Liners pointed out that just over 400 inmates — out of more than 22,000 — have been tested, and that current infection rate of about 12% is much higher than among the general population.

“DOC says it’s done all it can do,” Liners said. “Now it really rests on the governor himself to take action,” via his powers to commute and defer sentences, and pardon inmates, and pressure faster actions by the Parole Commission to free eligible prisoners.

WISDOM is a state-wide network of groups, many of them faith-based, that works for social changes, including criminal justice, immigration and transit reforms.

Also taking part in Wednesday’s news conference were Ex-Prisoners Organizing, or EXPO, the ACLU of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Alliance for Youth Justice. 

Evers’ spokesperson Melissa Bauldauff said the office was still processing contacts from the event,  which numbered at least 100 as of around noon.

“The governor remains concerned about persons in our care and feels for them and their families, especially during this difficult time,” she said. “Reforming our criminal justice system continues to be a top priority for the governor and he appreciates the support and advocacy of groups like WISDOM.”

Some inmates are asking judges to modify their sentences, on the basis that the coronavirus constitutes a new factor that couldn’t have been known at the time the original sentences were imposed, and that exposing more vulnerable inmates to potential infection amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

– Bruce Vielmetti

12:06 p.m.: Oprah Winfrey donates $100,000 to Milwaukee non-profits

The Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation has awarded $100,000 to Milwaukee organizations SaintA and Nia Imani Family, Inc., as part of a COVID-19 relief effort. 

The foundation donated a total of $12 million to Winfrey’s “home cities” of Milwaukee, Nashville, Chicago, Baltimore and Kosciusko in Mississippi. 

“I’m proud to be able to support the communities I have called home,” Winfrey said in a press release. “These organizations are working tirelessly on the ground to help those hit the hardest by the pandemic, meeting people where they are and serving in ways needed most.”

Related: Oprah Winfrey reports from Milwaukee on trauma, citing Journal Sentinel series

Nia Imani Family, Inc., provides housing for young or first-time mothers. 

SaintA will use the money to purchase equipment and internet access for up to 150 clients to be able to talk remotely with mental health providers at SaintA on telehealth platforms for a year. 

“As we face the challenges arising from COVID-19, I wanted to support SaintA as they are dedicated to mental health and serving those that have been most impacted by the pandemic in my hometown of Milwaukee,” Winfrey said in a press release. 

Ann Leinfelder Grove, SaintA CEO, said when the organization moved all mental health visits to telehealth platforms, providers quickly found many clients had problems with accessing virtual appointments at a time when needs were especially acute. 

Related: Mental health workers see increased demand for treatment, support with pandemic

“African American families and those who have financial instability in these COVID-19 times are more at risk of lacking the technology to engage in telehealth,” Leinfelder Grove said in a press release. “This generous grant allows us to close the digital divide and be a healing bridge.”

– Rory Linnane

12:01 p.m.: Evers announces aid for struggling renters

Wisconsin residents who are struggling to pay rent and landlords struggling to collect will soon get some assistance from the state. 

On Tuesday Gov. Tony Evers announced a $25 million Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program for those who have experienced income loss as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.  

“Wisconsinites have enough to worry about as we continue to battle the deadly COVID-19 virus. They should not also have to worry about losing the roofs over their head,” Evers said. “The Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program will hopefully provide peace of mind to a lot of people, as well as a reminder to them that we are all in this together. They have not been forgotten.” 

Eligible applicants must be an adult Wisconsin resident with a household income at or below 80% of the county median income in the month of or prior to the application date. Once approved, eligible individuals may receive up to $3,000 in a combination of rental payments and or security deposits. These payments will be paid directly to the landlord on behalf of the tenant. 

The state Department of Administration will administer the funds. The state received the funding through the Coronaviurs Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.  

The Department of Administration plans to partner with the Wisconsin Community Action Program Association member agencies to accept applications from interested individuals and distribute the rental assistance. 

“Collaborations with ‘boots-on-the-ground’ partner organizations will be critical to ensuring eligible Wisconsin residents are aware of this new program and are able to receive rental assistance relief quickly,” DOA Secretary Joel Brennan said. 

Read more here.

– Ricardo Torres

11:40 a.m.: Southridge Mall reopens in Greendale 

Southridge mall in Greendale announced it is reopening Wednesday with a number of safety protocols put into place for shoppers. 

Southridge joins Mayfair Mall, Brookfield Square and The Corners at Brookfield, as area shopping centers who are allowing stores to reopen after being shut down since mid-March. 

Select stores in the mall will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. from Monday to Saturday, and from 12 to 6 p.m. on Sunday. 

Hand sanitizing stations and signage promoting CDC guidelines for maintaining personal hygiene will be prominently displayed throughout the property, a press release said. 

More information on what’s open at Southridge can be found here.

– Evan Casey

7:43 a.m.: Milwaukee County reports 180 new cases in past day

Milwaukee County reported 180 new cases of the coronavirus and one more death between Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning.

That brings the countywide totals to more than 5,300 cases and 241 deaths, according to the county’s online dashboard.

After more than a month of slow decline, hospitalizations are trending upwards, from 146 patients on Thursday to 183 as of Tuesday.

The percentage of test results coming back positive has also climbed in recent days, from 9% on May 13 to 25% on May 16. Eighteen percent of tests were positive on Monday, the most recent day available, according to the dashboard.

The goal for the county is to have 10 percent or fewer positive tests results per day.

Meanwhile, more than half of the county’s hospital beds are occupied, with a quarter of the county’s ventilators in use.

– Elliot Hughes

Tuesday, May 19

3:39 p.m.: Milwaukee County Suburbs can reopen all remaining businesses on Friday

Milwaukee County’s suburban municipalities will move on to the next phase of reopening Friday, allowing all remaining businesses in those municipalities to open.

A county order will expire at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, allowing the 18 municipalities to open all remaining businesses if they choose.

“In preparation for this next phase of the reopening beginning on Friday, May 22, local health departments are communicating with businesses throughout their communities to share best practices and guidance about how they can reopen and operate safely,” according to a statement.

– Alison Dirr

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