Evers: Wisconsin receives 2nd PPE shipment
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on the coronavirus outbreak in Wisconsin (all times local):
Gov. Tony Evers said Tuesday that Wisconsin has received its second shipment of personal protective equipment to help health care workers and emergency medical workers in the fight against COVID-19.
Evers said the shipment from the Strategic National Stockpile is being distributed. The supplies are going to medical facilities including hospitals, nursing homes, assisted living facilities and clinics across Wisconsin.
“We are doing everything we can to get more protective equipment as fast as we can to our health care workers and those on the frontlines to protect them from COVID-19,” Evers said in a statement.
The second phase includes N95 respirators, face masks and shields, surgical gowns, coveralls and gloves.
Wisconsin has not been reporting how many COVID-19 patients are currently hospitalized, but a state health leader said Tuesday that she has not heard concerns about hospitals being near capacity at this point.
Wisconsin Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said the state was working to update its data system to collect hospitalization numbers and report those “in days to come.”
Gov. Tony Evers announced on Tuesday that the state was opening voluntary isolation centers in Madison and Milwaukee on Wednesday to alleviate the strain on hospitals. Van Dijk said the Madison hotel can house 137 people and one in Milwaukee can take 110, but there were no patients yet.
She said the goal is to keep hospital rooms open for when there is an expected surge in patients, which health officials have said is expected in the next week or so. The centers are for people with mild symptoms who have no other place to go to isolate themselves and voluntarily want to check in. They need a referral from a doctor or public health official.
The Evers administration has provided guidance for other communities interested in doing something similar.
Wisconsin is opening a pair of state-run voluntary isolation centers in Madison and Milwaukee for people with the coronavirus, Gov. Tony Evers announced Tuesday.
The centers will open on Wednesday. Evers’ administration also provided other communities across the state guidance on how to open similar isolation centers if needed.
Evers said opening the sites will take a strain off of hospitals and give people who don’t want to spread the virus to others a place to go if they have no other option.
Evers said the sites will be available for people who have a confirmed case of COVID-19 or are showing symptoms and likely have it. They have to be referred by a doctor or public health official to be admitted and registration is voluntary.
The expected length of stay is 14 days or 72 hours after symptoms dissipate, Evers said.
The site in Milwaukee will be at a Super 8 hotel and the one in Madison is at a hotel and conference center on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday asked President Donald Trump to issue a major disaster declaration for the state of Wisconsin due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Evers said he hoped the declaration, which covers all 72 counties and federally recognized tribes, would allow the state to access critical programs to support the state’s response including community disaster loans, public assistance and crisis counseling.
“The response to this outbreak has caused multiple deaths, exhausted many of our resources, resulted in record unemployment claims, and taken a toll on the community infrastructure that is in place to protect the public,” Evers said. “We need federal assistance to help rebuild those critical safety nets and ensure they remain strong.”
As of Monday, there were more than 1,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state and at least 24 deaths, based on state and local health department reports.
Unemployment claims in Wisconsin since the coronavirus outbreak hit a daily high on Monday, with more than 24,600 people filing for benefits.
That brings the total number of preliminary unemployment filings since March 15 to nearly 222,000. That is 17-times higher then roughly 13,000 claims that were filed over the same period last year.
The state Department of Workforce Development said that last week it received more than 1.5 million calls, including more than 160 per-second at times on Thursday.
The agency is asking people filing for unemployment benefits to do it online rather than over the phone. The department said it is working to increase staff and technology capacity to deal with the flood in calls.
Gov. Tony Evers has said the agency needs at least 80 more workers to handle the increase in calls. Evers and Republicans who control the Legislature are working on an aid package for the state to help deal with the COVID-19 outbreak.
Wisconsin’s economy will be harder hit by the coronavirus pandemic in areas where there is more tourism, a study by the Wisconsin Policy Forum released on Tuesday said.
The study found that counties that depend heavily on tourism face the greatest challenges due to the concentration of jobs related to hotels, restaurants, entertainment and recreation. The virus outbreak has forced closures of nonessential businesses across the state, including many that rely on tourists like water parks in Wisconsin Dells, professional and collegiate sporting events and historical sites throughout the state.
The forum’s report said in six tourism-dependent counties, at least one out of every four jobs is in a sector heavily impacted by closures due to the virus. That includes Adams County, which covers a portion of the Wisconsin Dells area, Door County and Walworth County, which includes the Lake Geneva area. The other three are Vilas, Bayfield and Sawyer counties.
The longer the current economic situation lasts, the more it will affect summer tourism, particularly in counties where that is the majority of their tourism season, the report said.
The state’s two largest metropolitan areas, Milwaukee and Madison, large numbers of workers are affected, even though their share of jobs in the affected sectors is not as large as other more tourism-dependent counties, the report said.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison expects to lose $100 million because of the coronavirus pandemic, that’s if social distancing is over by June.
The loss includes reimbursing the majority of students for room and board after the campus closed because of COVID-19.
Chancellor Rebecca Blank told the University Committee Monday additional expenses include hiring professional cleaners and buying software licenses and programs to move thousands of courses online.
The State Journal reports the loss is about 3.2% of UW-Madison’s $3 billion budget.
System spokesman Mark Pitsch said he doesn’t have an estimate for the financial losses at its 26 campuses.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are among those particularly susceptible to more severe illness, including pneumonia.