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Governor Tony Evers and DHS secretary Andrea Palm give an update to Wisconsin’s Covid-19 response. April 13, 2020.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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: Coronavirus updates from the weekend

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

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

Tuesday, April 21

7:45 a.m.: Milwaukee County reports 31 news cases and 5 more deaths

Milwaukee County reported 31 new cases of coronavirus and five new deaths between Monday afternoon and Tuesday morning.

The county now has 2,237 confirmed cases of the virus and 132 deaths, more than half of the statewide death toll, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Thirteen of the new cases were reported in the city of Milwaukee, for a total of 1,671, according to Milwaukee County’s online dashboard.

– Elliot Hughes

MONDAY, APRIL 20

7:35 p.m. 132 fatal coronavirus cases in Milwaukee County, 230 statewide

As of 7 p.m. Monday the number of deaths from coronavirus in Milwaukee County was 132 with 2,191 cases, according to figures from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Statewide 230 people have died and 4,499 people have tested positive with 1,211 requiring hospitalization, a little more than one-quarter. So far 46,603 people have tested negative for coronavirus in the state.

– Meg Jones

6 p.m. Democrats criticize Trump over PPE shortage, widespread testing

Three Democrats from Wisconsin’s congressional delegation are calling out Pres. Donald Trump for what they say is a lack of strong leadership to provide a national centralized plan for widespread coronavirus testing.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin and Reps. Mark Pocan of Madison and Gwen Moore of Milwaukee also sharply criticized the way some shipments to Wisconsin of personal protection equipment were handled.

“During a national emergency, you have pitted states against one another to bid on critical supplies needed for testing, and your administration has diverted shipments away from governors and into the hands of a small group of private distributors with no transparency,” they wrote in a letter Monday.

They called on the president to use the Defense Production Act to massively scale up coronavirus testing throughout the U.S. They said experts have suggested at least a million tests must be done in the U.S. each day to start reopening the economy by mid-May but Vice President Mike Pence reported Sunday that around 150,000 tests are being done daily.

Baldwin, Pocan and Moore noted that 1,000 N95 masks ordered earlier this month by the Brown County Sheriff’s and Green Bay Police departments from a supplier were intercepted by federal officials, leaving those law enforcement officials with desperately needed equipment. By then the national stockpile of PPE was almost depleted.

Last weekend the number of coronavirus cases exploded in Brown County with almost 300 infections reported including clusters at meat packing plants.

“At present, no national plan exists from your White House to provide our state with the resources and supplies we need to conduct widespread testing to identify those who are infected, isolate positive cases, and safely trace all contacts so the spread of this virus can be contained,” they wrote.

– Meg Jones

4:50 p.m. Officials identify 7 people who appear to have contracted virus related to April 7 election

Officials have identified seven people – six voters and one poll worker – who appear to have contracted COVID-19 through activities related to the April 7 election, Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said Monday.

She also said that officials “only have 30% of data as far as any new COVID-19 cases that were associated with the date of the 7th of April,” when the in-person election was held.

By the end of this week, officials hope to have additional information on the cases that were reported between April 7 and Monday including whether any of the seven cases were fatal and whether they were concentrated at any of the city’s five in-person polling locations.

Tuesday marks two weeks since the election that saw thousands of voters standing in line, many for hours.

It also marks the end of the virus’ 14-day incubation period.

– Alison Dirr

4:45 p.m. Wausau physician accused of violating safer at home order placed on leave

A Wausau physician was placed on leave after he appears to have broken the state’s Safer at Home order last weekend.

Dr. David Murdock, a cardiologist with Aspirus, will not be seeing patients for the “foreseeable future,” the medical group announced Monday.

Aspirus requires its employees to comply with Gov. Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order, which prohibits gatherings of groups of 10 or more people. Aspirus alleges that Murdock “took part in a large gathering this weekend and appeared to violate social distancing practices,” according to the Aspirus release.

Circulating on Facebook are photos of a man whom some have identified as Murdock attending the Open Wisconsin Now protest Sunday in Mosinee. One person posted the photo on Murdock’s Facebook page with the question: “Is this true David?” Murdock did not immediately reply.

Read the full story.

– Keith Uhlig, Wausau Daily Herald

4:30 p.m. Cluster of virus cases reported at meat packing plants 

Brown County officials are investigating a cluster of coronavirus cases at an east-side meatpacking plant after the number of people sick climbed to nearly 300 over the weekend. 

The county on Monday reported 292 cases, an increase of 119 since Friday, along with five in the Oneida Nation. The weekend surge came after officials called in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to look into an explosion of cases in the Green Bay area.

The recent spike includes a cluster of cases at JBS Packerland on Lime Kiln Road, said Ted Shove, an environmental health manager for Brown County. The number of cases from the plant is unknown, but Shove said the CDC will assist with contact tracing to determine how many people were infected.

The county also confirmed cases at American Foods Group and Salm Partners in Denmark, but Shove said those meat-processing companies have not seen as many as JBS. The CDC has indicated that there is a low risk of contracting the virus through food products or packaging that are shipped at room or cool temperatures. 

Read full story.

– Doug Schneider, Haley BeMiller, Nusaiba Mizan and Paul Srubas, Green Bay Press-Gazette

3:40 p.m. Milwaukee sports radio station switching to virus news 

Milwaukee radio station WAUK-AM (540) switched over Monday from all sports-talk to all coronavirus, all the time. 

Good Karma Brands, which owns WAUK, said the AM station would air “Coronavirus: What You Need to Know,” a public service channel from SiriusXM’s Doctor Radio, until further notice. The ongoing coronavirus coverage, presented by academic medical center NYU Langone Health, is commercial-free. 

The AM station had been carrying ESPN network programming and some live sporting events, back when those were still happening.

– Chris Foran

3:20 p.m. Infections double among House of Correction inmates

The number of inmates at Milwaukee County’s House of Correction infected with COVID-19 has more than doubled since last week, even before results are known of weekend testing of the entire population.

Last week officials announced 27 inmates had tested positive, that other test results were pending and that all 623 inmates at the facility in Franklin would be tested over the weekend with the help of the state.

On Monday, the number jumped to 63, said Raisa Koltun, an official at the county’s Emergency Operations Center. Officials have begun planning to convert a long-closed dormitory at the HOC grounds in Franklin into a medical treatment site.

The HOC typically houses about 1,000 inmates serving sentences under a year, or terms under a year as a condition of a probation sentence on a felony conviction. Many HOC inmates had work release privileges, but in an effort to reduce the population in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, many were released early or put on electronic monitoring.

Officials are scheduled to talk more about developments to blunt the spread of COVID-19 at the HOC during a county briefing Monday afternoon.

– Bruce Vielmetti

3 p.m. More National Guard troops mobilized for coronavirus testing

More than 200 Wisconsin National Guard members mobilized on Sunday to create more collection teams for coronavirus test specimens.

The National Guard will help establish more mobile testing and additional specimen collections at sites around the state that have not yet been determined. National Guardsmen will help transport collected specimens to state labs for analysis.

The Wisconsin Department of Health requested more help from the guard which has already taken an active role as the coronavirus pandemic escalated. This weekend’s call-up boosted the number of Wisconsin National Guard members responding to the coronavirus outbreak to more than 700.

On Monday two 20-person teams opened specimen collections sites at two community health centers in Milwaukee. On Saturday a National Guard-staffed mobile testing site opened at the Milwaukee County House of Correction in Franklin to test inmates and employees.

Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said the number of people tested for COVID-19 must increase to stop the spread of the virus.

“Our work with the National Guard throughout this pandemic has set us up to launch these mobile testing sites and strategically deploy guard assets to stop outbreaks,” Palm said in a statement.

Three National Guard specimen collection teams began training soon after Gov. Tony Evers declared the health emergency on March 12. Those teams have already been at work including opening a mobile testing site at a senior living facility in Sheboygan on April 5.

The Wisconsin National Guard also has:

  • 12-person teams serving as medical and administrative staff at two separate state-run voluntary self-isolation facilities in Milwaukee and Madison; another 30 soldiers and airmen are serving at a Milwaukee County-run self-isolation facility.
  • a team of six guardsmen assisting mortuary affairs operations at the Dane County Coroner’s Office.
  • 20 soldiers working at a state warehouse to receive and repackage personal protective equipment for redistribution to communities.

– Meg Jones

11 a.m.: Colectivo reopening two locations with curbside pickup and walk-up window

Milwaukee café chain Colectivo is reopening two of its locations as ColecDepot, where customers can purchase coffee, beverages and bakery selections.

The stores will offer limited café service and grocery with contact-free curbside order pickup, which is facilitated through the Colectivo app, or walk-up window service.

Drinks like brewed coffee, draft cold-brew beverages and lattes will be available. Café food favorites like muffins, burritos and whole wheat chocolate chip cookies will be for sale as well.  

Customers can take home coffee by the pound to brew at home, bakery bread, homemade granola and 4-packs of bagels with cream cheese.

ColectDepot is coming to the Humboldt café and roastery at 2999 N. Humboldt Blvd. and in Wauwatosa at 9125 W. North Ave.

Walk-up orders are available daily from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Colectivo app is available on Apple and Google Play.

For more information, visit https://colectivocoffee.com.

– Jordyn Noennig

7:33 a.m.: Milwaukee County reports one death and 43 new cases of COVID-19 Monday morning

Milwaukee County reported one death and 43 additional people with COVID-19 between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning. 

The county has recorded 126 deaths from coronavirus-related complications.

Milwaukee county accounts for about half of Wisconsin’s coronavirus cases. The county reported 2,193 cases Monday morning. On Sunday afternoon there were 4,346 positive coronavirus cases in the state. 

The city of Milwaukee continues to have the most cases of any city in the state with 1,700 cases.

– Jordyn Noennig 

SUNDAY, APRIL 19

10:06 p.m.: Tavern League president calls for restaurants, bars and supper clubs to reopen May 1

In response to Gov. Tony Evers extending his stay-at-home order through May 26, Tavern League of Wisconsin president Chris Marsicano sent a statement late Sunday night calling for a “soft reopening” of the state’s taverns, restaurants and supper clubs on May 1.

The Tavern League, which includes 5,000 members, believes measures used by open, essential businesses could be applied to the hospitality industry.

In his statement, Marsicano outlined nine guidelines the hospitality could follow to facilitate a soft reopening “while taking the important steps to protect the safety of employees and customers.”

Read the full story here.

Jim Owczarski

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