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COVID-19 Update #14

 

Dear Friends & Neighbors,

Despite the end of Wisconsin’s Safer-at-Home order and the unofficial beginning of summer, the risk of the COVID-19 virus remains. It is important that all of us continue to take measures that help protect ourselves and others we come into contact with. 

This week, we learned about two more COVID-19 related deaths in Winnebago County. I am saddened that our community has now lost three people to this virus. My deepest condolences and prayers are with the families and friends of the individuals who passed.

In addition to these tragic deaths, it has been reported that more than one dozen residents and staff at Bethel Senior Living Facility in Oshkosh have tested positive for COVID-19. You can read more about the outbreak HERE. This has brought the total number of known positive cases in Winnebago County to 165, and in Oshkosh to 84. You can view the most up-to-date information on cases on the Winnebago County Health Department dashboard HERE.

 

While the economic consequences of the virus continue to be devastating to so many, the Safer-at-Home order was successful in buying time for the state to significantly increase testing, focus resources on vulnerable populations, and begin to implement contact tracing that will help reduce future spread. It is important to recognize that effectiveness of the Safer-at-Home order has resulted in Wisconsin having the fewest cases and fewest deaths per capita of any state in the upper Midwest (IL, MI, IA, IN, MN, OH) through May 28. That is why we must continue to follow social distancing and public health guidelines — we cannot afford to lose this progress and fall back to where we were months ago. 

The recent outbreak locally, and the increased cases and lives lost to this virus statewide, highlight the importance of maintaining the spirit of Safer-at-Home in our daily lives in order to limit the exposure of COVID-19 and prevent future outbreaks and deaths. Last week, the Winnebago County Health Department issued several recommendations on controlling the transmission of COVID-19 as it relates to individuals, businesses, gatherings, and travel. These guidelines include continuing to practice physically distancing, limiting travel, wearing face masks, and washing our hands regularly, among other public health protective measures. These actions are not just for your own health, but for our friends, family, neighbors, and those most vulnerable in our community. You can view the full list of Winnebago County Health Department's recommendations HERE.

 

I thank each of you for all that you are doing to keep your loved ones safe and healthy. As always, if you have any questions or concerns regarding COVID-19, you can reach out to my Madison office at 608-266-2254, my home at 920-232-0805, or my email at Rep.Hintz@legis.wisconsin.gov. 

Sincerely, 

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Rental Assistance Program

Last week, Governor Evers announced the Rental Assistance Program, which will provide grants of up to $3,000 to help Wisconsinites pay for rent and security deposits. All payments will be made directly to landlords. Eligible applicants must have a household income at or below 80% of the county median income in the month of or prior to the application date. Eligible applicants must also provide documentation showing that they’ve had significant loss of income due to COVID-19 and are unable to pay their rent.

Winnebago County residents should contact ADVOCAP, Inc. to inquire about the application process. They can be reached at (920) 922-7760. You can learn more about the Rental Assistance Program on the Department of Administration (DOA) website HERE. This program is funded by the federal CARES Act. 

 

Routes to Recovery: Local Government Aid Grants

Earlier this week, Governor Evers announced aid grants for local governments. These grants will be provided to all units of local government to reimburse for costs incurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. The grants will cover reimbursements for several categories, including purchases of personal protection equipment, cleaning and sanitizing supplies, testing and contact tracing costs, and emergency operations activities. The amount each local government will receive is based on population. No less than $5,000 will be provided, regardless of the size of the population.

The City of Oshkosh will receive a grant of $1,092,523, and Winnebago County will receive $2,773,211. You can learn more about the Local Government Aid Grants on the Department of Administration (DOA) website HERE. This program is funded by the federal CARES Act. 

 

COVID-19 Response Plan

The State Legislature has a responsibility to help individuals, families, and businesses navigate these uncertain times. To meet the short-term and long-term demands of our state, Legislative Democrats have developed a COVID-19 Response Plan that addresses the needs of our healthcare system, supports our economy, and strengthens our democracy. This plan acknowledges there is more work to be done for the people of Wisconsin, and that this is no time to close up shop and go home. 

There are certain things that only the Governor can do, there are certain things that only the federal government can do, and there are things that only the State Legislature can do. Legislative Democrats have crafted this plan because we are ready for the State Legislature to convene in session again to vote on necessary COVID-19 response policies. You can view the full COVID-19 Response Plan HERE.

 

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Reopening Guidance for Businesses

As a reminder, businesses that choose to reopen should follow the local, state, and federal guidelines. I applaud the effort of local business owners who have implemented best practice measures in an effort to minimize the risk of exposure to their employees and customers. It is my hope that we are able to reopen the economy without a significant increase in cases or demand for hospital beds as the state and country are better able to manage and contain the spread of the virus.

The Winnebago County Health Department has compiled best practices from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, Department of Health Services, and Centers for Disease & Control. You can view their guidance to businesses HERE.

 

Unemployment Benefits

As many of you are aware, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has been overwhelmed by the volume of unemployment benefit applications, requests, and calls. In the week of May 11 alone, DWD received 4.2 million calls related to unemployment insurance. Since March 15, DWD has received over 500,000 regular unemployment applications, 2.2 million weekly claims, and 80,000 pandemic unemployment assistance applications. This is an unprecedented spike in the number of Wisconsinites who are in need of unemployment benefits, and I know that many of my constituents are among those still waiting for their payments. 

To assist with calls and processing the number of claims, DWD is working with two call center vendors and a processing / adjudication vendor. These centers are expected to be fully operational on June 1. In addition, DWD has hired a significant number of staff who will work in their call center. With the additional staff on board, DWD will extend its call center hours from 7am to 5pm. You can read more about DWD’s expanded efforts HERE.

 

While I am sympathetic to the record number of applications DWD has received, I also believe that those seeking unemployment insurance should have a reasonable expectation of when they will collect their benefits. That’s why my office has stepped in to serve as another pathway to DWD. My staff has been working hard to send cases to DWD and request that they are promptly reviewed — since the end of March, we have helped nearly 200 constituents with their unemployment claims. 

If you have not received your benefits and would like my office to assist you, please email Rep.Hintz@legis.wisconsin.gov with the information below. Once we have your information, we will send your case to DWD as soon as possible.

  • Full name (First Name, Middle Initial, Last Name)  
  • Phone number
  • Date of birth 
  • Last four of SSN
  • Date you submitted your application 
  • Status of your application (i.e. pending due to review of ability to work) 
  • Reason for inquiry 

 

Oshkosh Area Food Pantry Updates

The Oshkosh Area Food Pantry is still serving clients via their "drive-up" method on Mondays from 2pm-5:45pm, Wednesdays from 10am-1:30pm and Fridays from 10am-1:30pm. Each household is receiving one or two “staples” boxes, depending on family size. Most people leave with 100 pounds of food. 

You can call the Food Pantry with any questions at (920) 651-9960. You can also visit their website for the latest information HERE.

 

Free Farmers to Families Food Boxes

Every Monday in June, Oshkosh residents will be able to pick up a free Farmers to Families Food Box that includes 25 pounds of fresh produce, meat, and dairy. The boxes will be distributed at the UW Oshkosh Kolf Sports Center (785 High Avenue) from 10am-12pm. The boxes are first come, first serve, and will have no income requirements. You can read more HERE.

 

State Parks Update

In line with public health guidelines and safety recommendations, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has made the following changes to its state park operations: 

  • All state park properties have returned to the regular operating hours of 6am-11pm, seven days per week. Properties are no longer closed on Wednesdays. 
  • A limited number of restrooms will reopen for public use on Wednesday, June 3. 
  • All group, family, and indoor group campsites will remain closed through Sunday, June 7. The status of events, reservations, and camping after June 7 is under review.

You can read more about these modifications HERE.

 

Greater Oshkosh EDC Business Finance Programs 

The Greater Oshkosh Economic Development Corporation has several business finance programs available to companies impacted by COVID-19. These programs include the Greater Oshkosh Emergency Response Loan Fund, Winnebago County Rapid Recovery Loan Fund, Greater Oshkosh Capital Catalyst Fund, and Greater Oshkosh Revolving Loan Fund. The amounts and terms of the loans vary significantly, find out if one of the funds is a good fit for your business by visiting the Greater Oshkosh EDC website HERE.

 

Oshkosh Farmers Market 

The Oshkosh Farmers Market will open on Saturday, June 6. The Market will only provide agricultural and food vendors until the end of June. Any adjustments to this policy will be made for the July Farmers Markets and onward. You can read more HERE.

 

Partnership Community Health Center Updates

The Partnership Community Health Center Oshkosh Clinic is still closed for primary care visits, however, the clinic is continuing to see patients with emergency dental needs. Primary care appointments are available virtually, as well as in-person at the Appleton Clinic for select needs. 

If you need help applying for health insurance coverage, FoodShare benefits, or any other assistance programs, Partnership Community Health Center is able to assist you. You can call them at (920-882-6420) to learn more. 

You can continue to follow updates from Partnership HERE.

 

Amazon Now Accepting FoodShare

Last week, Amazon announced that FoodShare customers can now purchase groceries with their EBT cards on Amazon.com. This program is made possible by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which selected Amazon to participate in its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Online Purchasing Pilot. Visit Amazon’s SNAP EBT webpage to learn more HERE.

 

HealthWatch Wisconsin Videos

HealthWatch Wisconsin has put together a series of helpful videos on COVID-19 related matters. The short videos range from understanding Wisconsin’s Medicaid changes to learning about the federal HEROES Act. Below are a few of their most useful videos:

 

A Note on My Last E-Update 

In my last e-update, I mentioned that there are no restrictions currently in place for Oshkosh. I wanted to take a moment to clarify that when the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Evers' Safer at Home order, they chose to leave schools closed. K-12 districts are still operating under the closures until June 30. 

 

Top Stories 

Gov. Tony Evers unveils plan for spending $1B in fed money to fight COVID-19 in Wisconsin

Governor Evers announced a $1 billion effort to support COVID-19 testing, contract tracing, emergency operations, and resources for local communities. You can read more HERE.

Wisconsin Elections Commission Votes to Send Absentee Ballot Applications To 2.7M Voters

Wisconsin will send absentee ballot applications to approximately 2.7 million registered voters in an effort to prepare for November's election. This decision was made unanimously by the bipartisan Wisconsin Elections Commission and will be paid for through the federal funding our state received from the CARES Act. You can read more HERE.

 

Resource Links

 
 If you have any comments regarding the subject of this E-Newsletter, please feel free to contact me.   


Rep. Hintz
State Capitol, Room #201 W
PO Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

Toll-Free (888) 555-1234 or (608) 555-1234
Rep.Hintz@legis.wisconsin.gov|