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COVID-19 Update

Dear Neighbor,

In order to support your families being able to take a deep breath, turn away from constant news updates, and create a new temporary normal, my office will continue sending a daily update on the COVID-19 public health emergency and will post online on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

It is my hope that one reliable update each day will allow you to take a deep breath, oversee all that is happening in your own life and home, and have a reliable source of news you can count on to be up to date and accurate. As always, previous updates are on our website and linked beneath the graphic below. 

My greatest concerns right now are your lives and livelihoods. We are working hard to keep you and your loved ones safe, and to fight for our small businesses in an unprecedented crisis. 

In solidarity,

Rep. Robyn Vining 

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 Past email updates can be found HERE

Department of Workforce Development Update 

More than 14,000 Workers Participating in Work-Share Plans in Wisconsin

The following is an update from DWD on increased participation in Wisconsin’s Work-Share Plans during the COVID-19 public health crisis. This increase is directly related to the efforts of Assembly Democrats in crafting what was signed into law by Governor Evers as Act 185, legislation passed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As of May 18, DWD has more than 340 Work-Share Program plans with more than 14,000 worker participants in Wisconsin. Work-Share is designed to help employers retain employees during slow business periods by reducing employees' hours and allowing affected employees to file for partial Unemployment Insurance benefits (UI) to replace a portion of their reduced pay. Participating workers also keep employer-provided benefits and avoid financial challenges associated with a total loss of employment. Prior to the COVID-19 public health emergency, between 2016 and March 15, 2020, Wisconsin had only 20 Work-Share plans involving 899 participants. Between March 15 and May 18, 2020, DWD saw a dramatic increase, with 14,091 workers participating in 342 Work-Share plans. 

Under recent changes enacted by Governor Tony Evers and the State Legislature, employers interested in creating a Work-Share plan must include a minimum of at least 2 Wisconsin employees. The reduction of hours will be a set percentage of at least 10% but not more than 60% of the normal hours per week of each employee and will remain consistent every week. Under the CARES Act, the federal government pays for 100% of the unemployment benefits paid through an approved Work-Share plan through the end of the year. The employer's future tax rates will not be impacted by Work-Share benefits paid to employees in the program during the effective duration of the CARES Act. For additional Information on Wisconsin Work-Share, please visit the DWD website HERE.  

Expanded DWD Direct Assistance Efforts

On May 15th, DWD announced that it secured contracts with outside vendors to expand efforts to directly assist more claimants faster during the COVID-19 pandemic. To assist with calls and processing the extraordinary number of claims for unemployment benefits due to the COVID-19 pandemic, DWD is working with two call center vendors and a processing and adjudication vendor. With additional staff on board, and an additional call center having come online on May 20th, DWD has also extended its call center hours to 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (hours were previously 7:35 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.). At 5:00 p.m., call center staff perform additional types of work, including clearing out the queue of those holding in person and call backs of those who chose the virtual hold queue. The queues must be cleared by 6:00 p.m. because nightly processing then begins which results in payment of benefits. Taking incoming calls past 5:00 p.m. would impact the payment of benefits.

In addition to the new call centers, DWD is currently recruiting new employees to fill more than 315 positions. Since the onset of COVID-19, the agency has also been reassigning its own employees to the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Division and is in the process of receiving additional assistance from other state agencies to help with the enormous workload. Since the beginning of the public health emergency, there have been 129 internal DWD transfers, 69 interagency transfers, and 162 new hires dedicated to the UI mission.

DWD also implemented JARVIS, a chatbot software application that helps claimants locate resources and find answers already on DWD's website, freeing up staff capacity to assist claimants with more complex issues.

Milwaukee Business Restart

An update from the City of Milwaukee Office of Small Business Development:

The City of Milwaukee has launched the Milwaukee Business Restart program website.  The Milwaukee Restart program uses federal relief funds to assist established Milwaukee businesses as they recover from COVID-19-related setbacks. The website can be accessed by searching Milwaukee.gov/restart.

Working collaboratively with the Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation, city government will provide grants to businesses so that they can restock perishable inventory, purchase personal protective equipment, and accommodate social distancing guidance.  The program is targeted at small businesses significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. The city anticipates supporting the restart of neighborhood businesses in all parts of Milwaukee.

The city anticipates disbursing grants in the coming weeks and will accept applications from eligible businesses between May 28 and June 12.

Businesses are encouraged to visit the website for more details and to prepare materials that will be needed to complete their application.   

 Department of Health Services Updates 

For daily updated information on COVID-19 in Wisconsin, visit the DHS website HERE

Updates on the Badger Bounce Back plan gating criteria can be found HERE.  

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15,863 confirmed cases (increase of 279*)

3.6% of total tests are positive (for 5/26)

2,362 hospitalizations (15% of cases- increase of 23)

200,874 negative test results (increase of 7,495)

517 devastating deaths (increase of 3)

14th District Counties

Milwaukee - 6,517 confirmed cases
Waukesha - 578 confirmed cases

*Changes over yesterday


Forward together,

Rep. Robyn Vining


Contact Us: 

State Capitol
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708 

PH: (608) 266-9180
TF: (888) 534-0014

Email: Rep.Vining@legis.wi.gov 
Web: www.vining.assembly.wi.gov 

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