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 District Dialogue

Serving the Greater Northwoods

Oneida - Vilas - Florence - Forest

May 15, 2020

Supreme Court Ruling


This week the Wisconsin State Supreme Court made a ruling on the case Wisconsin Legislature v. Andrea Palm which declared the Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm’s Emergency Order 28 unenforceable and illegal due to not going through the exiting emergency rulemaking process. In response to the ruling, all businesses can reopen immediately unless there is a local health department order prohibiting it.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed that the DHS Secretary-designee does not have the authority to create laws that unilaterally shut down our state or impose criminal penalties. The ruling is certainly a victory for not only people in the Northwoods, but the entire state.

I would like to stress to everyone that individual actions and personal responsibility should remain in effect on how our citizens and their families choose to conduct and protect themselves moving forward. I would strongly encourage people to continue following social distancing guidelines, hand washing, sanitizing frequently touched surfaces, and people with underlying health concerns to take extra precautions. Most importantly, if you feel sick, please stay home. It is certainly up to us to make the best decisions for themselves and their families. This order does not promote people to act in a way that they believe endangers their health.  

Our state now has an abundance of state, regional and local resources and data available to help people of the Northwoods make these important decisions. I would encourage all businesses to take a look at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s guidelines to reopening, the Wisconsin Hospitals Association COVID-19 Dashboard and the DHS COVID-19 cases and test results webpage.  

Moving forward, my goal is to minimize the impact of the shutdown on our struggling families, businesses and taxpayers. I look forward to working with the Evers administration to promulgate rules that would provide clear guidance if COVID-19 reoccurs more rapidly in the future. I am confident that together, we can begin to rebuild Wisconsin’s economy. 

WEDC Guidance for Businesses to Reopen 

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The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) recently released guidance for Wisconsin businesses for when they reopen. WEDC received input for national and state With input from national and state health and industry experts and in partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism and our regional economic development partners, WEDC has compiled a series of industry-specific documents to help you get back to business while taking the necessary precautions to maximize safety.


For more specific information pertaining to your business please click the following link: https://wedc.org/reopen-guidelines/

 Budget Committee Approves Additional Funding for Public Schools

Earlier this week, the Joint Committee on Finance approved a Department of Public Instruction (DPI) plan to allocate nearly $175 million to K-12 public and private schools to improve virtual education and mental health offerings during the public health emergency. This funding was provided by Congress and President Trump as a part of the CARES Act. As teachers and students around the state adapt to virtual learning, these much-needed funds will play an important role in ensuring the continuity of education for our students.

The CARES Act requires 90% of this funding to be distributed according to a formula established under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This formula directs funds to school districts based on the number of proportion of low-income students in a school district. 

DPI plans to use the remaining 10% to fund initiatives to train teachers on virtual education and to increase the number of courses that are offered virtually. DPI believes this will better prepare K-12 schools to provide increased virtual education offerings whether that is due to COVID-19 or another reason students may not be able to physically attend school, like a snow day. Funding will also be used to improve mental health services provided to students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under DPI’s original plan, the department planned to retain $500,000 for administrative purposes. After discussions with DPI, the amount of administrative funding was reduced by $150,000, freeing up additional resources to be used for programs directly benefiting students and teachers.

 Community Testing for COVID-19

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Oneida, Iron, Forest, Lincoln, Price, and Vilas Counties are collaborating with the Wisconsin National Guard to offer free community testing.

Testing for symptomatic individuals (including mild symptoms). If you have any of the following symptoms you are encouraged to come get tested:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Fatigue
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Please note that anyone tested who has symptoms will be expected to self-isolate until test results come back.

People should be prepared to provide a current address, county of residence, and phone number when you arrive for testing. We request that you wear a mask or cloth face covering when you arrive. Testing at these events will be free. Please be aware that if testing kits run out before the end of the events, those not tested may be turned away. Due to the unknown amount of interest, prepare for potential wait time. It is requested that modes of transportation form a line while waiting for testing and that those who want to be tested stay in or on their mode of transportation at all times,

 Additional Resources   

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, please visit the Department of Health Services website.

For information regarding Wisconsin unemployment benefits, please visit the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development website.

For collective information regarding all Wisconsin State Agencies, please visit: Wisconsin COVID-19 Collective Information.

Public Service Commission: Internet Resources for Wisconsin Residents during Public Health Emergency

Local Health Departments

Oneida County Health Department

Vilas County Health Department

Florence County Health Department

Forest County Health Department

Local Chamber of Commerce Business Listings



Eagle River


St. Germain

Land O’ Lakes

Boulder Junction

Sayner-Star Lake


Three Lakes


Manitowish Waters (School Breakfast and Lunch Requests)

National Resources:

Center for Disease Control

World Health Organization