Sunday April 5, 2020

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What COVID-19 has revealed

Posted by Mandela Barnes, Lt. Governor
Mandela Barnes, Lt. Governor
Mandela Barnes, Lt. Governor has not set their biography yet
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on Saturday, 04 April 2020
in Wisconsin

coronavirus-ventilatorLt. Governor Mandela Barnes shares his thoughts on the pandemic.


MADISON - As we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications, I would like to share my thoughts on what this crisis has revealed about our state and nation.

First, this crisis has exposed a glaring inequality that exists in our society. It begs the question: What does it really mean to live in the richest country on earth if we're unable to adequately care for people in need during an emergency?

While wealth continues to concentrate at the very top, working class people are struggling to get by, much less save for an emergency. And until healthcare is a universal right, people will die because of how expensive it can be to live when you're poor and facing a medical crisis.

This is why we must continue the fight for structural change - so that the needs of the many are prioritized above the interests of the few. Let's take this opportunity to reimagine society, our communities, and what quality of life actually means.

President Trump’s absence of leadership and racist rhetoric - referring to COVID-19 as the "Chinese-virus" - has hurt our ability to mitigate COVID-19 and unite as a nation.

The best response to a pandemic is prevention, and our failure to act decisively is the result of failed presidential leadership. President Trump's decision to dismantle a National Security Council directorate at the White House in 2018 charged with preparing for when another pandemic would hit the nation - and his cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) budget has seriously hampered our ability to respond to this pandemic.

We must also reject referring to COVID-19 as the "Chinese-virus." At a time when we should be setting aside differences and coming together, President Trump seeks to divide. Here in Wisconsin, we have already seen the harmful effects of this racist language: Milwaukee’s own Lucky Lui’s chinese restaurant has announced they will be closed indefinitely after workers received xenophobic and verbal attacks from customers. COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate based on race, and neither should we.

Despite everything, Wisconsinites are sacrificing for their fellow neighbor and displaying heartwarming generosity each and every day. Here are just a few examples of ways local businesses are helping out during these difficult times:

  • Central Standard Distillery, based out of Walkers Point in Milwaukee, has pledged to turn their focus to producing free disinfectant and sanitizing products with their supply of distilled alcohol
  • The Machinist Union (IAM) Local 1406, at GE Datex-Ohmeda in Madison, is fighting to produce much needed ventilators
  • Monterey Mills, a Janesville-based textile mill and supplier of fabrics, and Oak Creek-based Eder Flag, have teamed up to take on the demand for respirator masks

Our greatest opportunities exist in our greatest challenges. We are going to come out of this stronger and together.

Thank you for doing everything you can to keep Wisconsin safe and healthy.

-- Mandela

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State Treasurer Provides COVID-19 Updates & Resources

Posted by Sarah Godlewski, State Treasurer
Sarah Godlewski, State Treasurer
Sarah Godlewski, State Treasurer has not set their biography yet
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on Thursday, 02 April 2020
in Wisconsin

utility-shut-offSarah Godlewski outlines emergency orders and actions taken to protect the economic security during this public health crisis. Also resources available through the US Small Business Administration.


MADISON - We know a healthy economy is dependent on the health of its people. As we adapt to the Governor’s essential #SaferAtHome order, my office is working hard to provide the resources and information Wisconsinites and our small business community need.

sarah-godlewskiSince my last email, there have been a number of emergency orders and actions to protect the economic security of individuals and small businesses during this public health crisis. A few notable updates are:

  • Protection from Eviction/Foreclosure. In order to help ensure people are able to stay home and slow the spread of COVID-19, Governor Evers announced a temporary ban on evictions and foreclosures for 60 days. This includes both residential properties, as well as businesses. To read the full document, click here.
  • Insurance for Restaurant Delivery Drivers. As many restaurants are adjusting to carry-out and delivery only, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OCI) directed the insurance industry to cover delivery services on personal auto insurance policies. They must also offer coverage, if requested, for hired drivers and non-owned vehicles on a restaurant’s general liability service – both at no extra cost to policyholders. More information on this order here.
  • Prevention of Utility Shut-offs. The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) has directed regulated utilities to stop disconnection for nonpayment for all customers, including commercial, industrial, and farm accounts. They have also halted late fees and eased a number of administrative rules to keep homes and businesses supplied with light, heat, and water. For help with utility disconnections, reach out to the PSC directly here.
  • Sales and Use Tax Extensions. Last week, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) announced that small businesses can immediately request an extension to file sales and use tax returns. This comes along with extending the income tax payment and return due date to July 15th.  DOR has announced a series of steps to ease payment guidelines and postpone audit actions, more information can be found here.

In addition, there have been updates to resources available through the US Small Business Administration (SBA):

  • SBA Express Bridge Loans. This program allows small businesses who have a current relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. These loans can help small businesses access capital quickly and can be used to bridge the gap while applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan. For a list of Wisconsin SBA Express Lenders, click here.
  • Paycheck Protection Program. This program was rolled out under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and authorizes $349 billion toward job retention loans. They are specifically designed to help small business keep their workforce employed. If you maintain your workforce, the SBA may forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.

The most current information on eligibility and the application process for all of SBA’s loans can be found at www.sba.gov/coronavirus.

We know that COVID-19 will continue to impact our lives and our community. We are working with our partners to provide the tools and information Wisconsinites need to help navigate this uncertainty. Please feel free to reach out to my office via email at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with questions.

We are in this together.

Stay safe,

Sarah Godlewski, Wisconsin State Treasurer

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Stay Safer at Home

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
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on Wednesday, 01 April 2020
in Wisconsin

work-from-homeSen. Smith writes about public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, including the 'Safer at Home' order, and outlines other steps being taken by Governor Evers to address the short-term and long-term impacts of COVID-19.


EAU CLAIRE, WI - Every day, as we learn more about COVID-19 and adjust to the disruptions in our daily routine, we’re being tested on how we, as a community, step up to a challenge and work toward a solution. Throughout the state, people are coming together to help others. I’ve heard so many of my friends ask, “What can I do to help?”

The best way to help right now is by staying home. We all have a role to play to slow the spread of COVID-19. Our collective efforts will only make our communities safer and more resilient. As a state, we’ll get through this public health crisis by staying safer at home.

Since Governor Tony Evers declared a public health emergency in Wisconsin on March 13th, his administration has implemented 16 emergency orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while responding to repercussions of the public health crisis. On March 24th, Governor Evers issued the “Safer at Home” order, directing Wisconsinites to stay at home as much as possible, in order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 virus can spread between people who are in close contact to one another or through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes and another person in close proximity inhales, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As stated by the World Health Organization, most individuals infected with COVID-19 experience symptoms similar to the common cold; however COVID-19 can cause severe respiratory illness and may lead to death, especially for older adults or individuals with underlying health conditions.

jeff-smithProtective public health measures and policies, like the “Safer at Home” order are imperative to slow the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, these preventative measures are in place to ensure healthcare providers have the capacity to care for the number of individuals infected with COVID-19 and others that are in-need of emergency medical care.

After having conversations with public health experts, business leaders and local elected officials, Governor Evers understood it was in the state’s best interest to implement the “Safer at Home” order.  The “Safer at Home” order requires individuals to stay home, with limited exceptions, and requires non-essential businesses and operations to cease while the order is effective from March 25th to April 24th. The order is enforceable by local law enforcement and county sheriffs.

The “Safer at Home” order clarifies which businesses and operations are deemed essential, which includes, but is not limited to, farming and agricultural production, food banks and shelters, grocery stores and pharmacies, and manufactory industries. The “Safer at Home” order also provides mandatory guidelines on all forms of travel to further reduce the risk of COVID-19 community spread.

The Department of Health Services encourages Wisconsinites to get fresh air and exercise to stay healthy physically and mentally. You can still go out to walk your dog, visit a state park or go for a bike ride, but you should still maintain social distancing of six feet between others in public. Remember to continue following other public health practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by regularly washing hands with soap and water, covering coughs and sneezes, and cleaning high-touch surfaces.

The other emergency orders issued by Governor Evers are intended to address other consequences stemming from COVID-19. During the public health emergency, the orders will help expedite food delivery to grocery stores; extend unemployment insurance eligibility and remove the work search requirement; halt admissions to state prisons and juvenile facilities; suspend utility disconnections and waive late fees; and ban evictions and foreclosures.

Most recently, on Saturday March 28th, Governor Evers introduced a comprehensive legislative proposal to alleviate short-term and long-term challenges connected to COVID-19. I’m hopeful that all of my legislative colleagues can get behind these common-sense initiatives to protect our healthcare workers, help citizens practice their civic duty to vote, support Wisconsin workers and assist our local governments during this pandemic.

Every day, there are new updates about COVID-19. Be sure to stay up-to-date on ways to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and learn about available resources by visiting: govstatus.egov.com/wi-covid-19.

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Senator Jeff Smith Says Take COVID-19 Seriously

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
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on Wednesday, 25 March 2020
in Wisconsin

door-county-peopleSenator writes about ways we can slow the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, self-isolation and other precautionary measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


EAU CLAIRE, WI - We must take COVID-19 seriously. On March 13th, showing tremendous leadership, Governor Evers declared a public health emergency in Wisconsin and has since strengthened precautions. Now it’s our turn to do our part by following the guidance from leaders and medical professionals to slow the spread of COVID-19. Undoubtedly, this is a challenging time for us all as we learn to navigate the changes in our daily routine impacted by this global pandemic. It’s our responsibility as neighbors to keep our communities healthy and safe for all.

We have learned so much since we first heard about coronavirus and this particular strain, known as COVID-19. Seven other coronavirus strains exist, including one which leads to the common cold. Some skeptics use this fact as reason to scoff at the precautions taken to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, COVID-19 is a new strain and there’s still a lot scientists are trying to learn about it. To say that COVID-19 is no more than “a cold on steroids” is like saying a tiger is no more than an overgrown house cat. Yes, they are members of the same species but one is dangerous and vicious while the other is mild and tame.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), the COVID-19 virus is found in droplets from the throat and nose and can be spread when someone coughs or sneezes. DHS also reports that the virus can also spread when someone touches an object with the virus on it; if that person touches their mouth, face, or eyes the virus can make them sick. There are a range of symptoms associated with a COVID-19 infection, but symptoms can include fever, cough or shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). COVID-19 can cause severe respiratory illnesses, pneumonia and death.

In recent weeks, Wisconsin has seen community spread of COVID-19, which means there are people who have tested positive who have no exposure to a known case nor did they travel to a location where there is community spread. Now it’s even more important, while scientists and medical professionals research and provide care, that we all do our part to slow the spread.

jeff-smithI have to admit that in the past, I haven’t taken the strongest precautions for my own health, like I should. Then I realized that the public health precautions against COVID-19 are not only carried out to protect my personal well-being, but also to protect the health and safety of my loved ones. I’m self-isolating at my home to reduce the risk of community spread to vulnerable populations, like my 95-year-old father or others with compromised immune systems.

Sacrifices need to be made. We all need to follow CDC recommendations and practice social distancing and self-isolation. The CDC also recommends these practices to keep us and others around us healthy: wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; stay home when you’re sick; avoid touching your face; cover your cough or sneeze; and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

It’s times like this when the greater good of society is more important than going on with business as usual. Although it hurts that schools, restaurants and bars are shut down while social gatherings are limited to 10 people and we practice social distancing, it is a temporary pain that will slow the spread of COVID-19. We are taking these precautions now to prevent a spike in cases, which would overwhelm our healthcare system. Together, we must practice these measures to protect our family and community and support our hardworking healthcare professionals.

Wisconsin is taking COVID-19 very seriously and we all need to take necessary precautions to keep everyone safe. My next column will have more information about the measures being taken by the Legislature to slow the spread and support families affected by COVID-19.

Every day, there are new updates about COVID-19. Be sure to stay up-to-date on ways to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and learn about ways to cope during this pandemic by visiting: govstatus.egov.com/wi-covid-19.

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COVID-19 resources for Wisconsinites

Posted by Sarah Godlewski, State Treasurer
Sarah Godlewski, State Treasurer
Sarah Godlewski, State Treasurer has not set their biography yet
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on Tuesday, 24 March 2020
in Wisconsin

coronavirus-hand-sanState Treasurer offers helpful information in dealing with the crisis.


MADISON - I know we are facing trying times. COVID-19 is impacting not only the health of our loved ones but people’s livelihood. Yet despite it all, the people of Wisconsin continue to amaze me with their acts of kindness and generosity to those around them.

We are grateful to the health care professionals, the public safety officers, the day care providers and everyone else who are making sacrifices to help others. I know that together, we can make it through this.

sarah-godlewskiI’ve heard from a number of small business leaders from across the state who have shared their personal stories of having to shut down or lay off workers. I’m working with key government partners to provide support for our state businesses and have shared a few of those resources available below.

Beyond businesses, I also want to share some community resources for those in need.

I understand these resources will not help everyone, but they are an important start. I will continue to work to provide additional resources and information for workers and businesses who are navigating this time of uncertainty.

Food Security

  • Stores across the state are starting Senior Shopping Hours, so that those most at risk can shop safely.
  • Hunger Task Force is offering Stock Boxes, featuring cereal, milk, canned veggies and fruits, pasta or rice, protein, fruit juice, canned meats and 2 pounds of cheese, to low income Wisconsinites. If you want to help, donate here.


Resources for Small Businesses

  • Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is creating solutions for businesses. WEDC is working to provide $5 million in grants for small businesses of fewer than twenty people. Learn more about it here.
  • The Small Business Administration has approved Governor Evers’ request for loans for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Apply here.


Mental Health

  • If you are struggling with mental health, support is available. Call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746


Childcare and Resources for Students

  • The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families has information for child care, including requests for assistance.


Volunteer Opportunities

  • No matter where you live in Wisconsin, there are opportunities for people looking to help out. Check out Volunteer Wisconsin for ways to support your community.


I was living near the Pentagon on 9/11. I remember in those hours and days after, that I didn’t know how we would possibly recover as a nation. But then I saw neighbors and friends giving blood, volunteering and helping each other get by, one day at a time.

This pandemic is unlike any crisis we have ever faced as a nation, but I know that, if we follow the safety precautions and continue to work together, we will be successful.

-Sarah

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