Rep. Hintz E-Update.png

COVID-19 Update #17

 

 Dear Friends & Neighbors,

With the official start of summer behind us, let me take a moment to wish you a Happy Summer. For many, this is a time of year to spend with friends and family. As you enjoy your summer and the upcoming Fourth of July weekend, remember to always practice public health and safety measures. 

The Wall Street Journal recently ran an article that helps explain how people are most  likely infected. “It’s not common to contract Covid-19 from a contaminated surface, scientists say. And fleeting encounters with people outdoors are unlikely to spread the coronavirus. Instead, the major culprit is close-up, person-to-person interactions for extended periods. Crowded events, poorly ventilated areas and places where people are talking loudly—or singing, in one famous case—maximize the risk.” You can read more for yourself HERE.

 

Winnebago County June Covid-19 Numbers

As you know, almost three weeks ago, Winnebago County and the Oshkosh area in general drew headlines for its substantial increase in the number of positive COVID-19 cases. To understand what happened, I reviewed the county data available HERE. The increase in cases came shortly after the Supreme Court lifted Governor Evers’ “Safer-at-Home” order. This was worrisome, and even more concerning was that 20-29 year olds were driving the increase. However, while the rapid increase in the number of cases is cause for alarm, our overall number of positive cases remains relatively low. Even more encouraging is that the increase in positive tests the county recorded between June 3 and June 10 has subsided and remained consistently lower in the three weeks since.

 

Overall for June, there were 395 new positives tests from 9603 tests total. The one month increase in positive cases was 197.5% (200 to 595 total).  The percentage of positive tests increased from 3.18% on May 31 to 3.75% on June 30. The highest number of positive tests in Winnebago County on any day in June was 31, on June 8.

Given the surge in cases in states around the country, we need to continue to take precautions and look out for one another. To continue reducing the spread of the virus, it is extremely important that we all keep wearing face masks in public, washing our hands regularly, limiting trips out of our homes, and staying a distance of 6 feet from others. When each of us do our part, we are successful at keeping Oshkosh safe.

 

Local Government Emergency Powers Management Proposal

I also want to use this e-update as an opportunity to discuss a recent county proposal that has received a lot of buzz. As many of you are aware, the County Board is considering a proposal that would give the Public Health Officer the authority to order and enforce health emergencies.

When the Supreme Court overturned the Governor’s Safer-at-Home order, there was a great deal of confusion on how the decision affected local governments’ ability to issue their own orders. The Supreme Court ruling initially resulted in several counties issuing their own Safer-at-Home orders. But when faced with legality questions, many rescinded them.

However, as the number of daily cases rises again across the country — and in some parts of Wisconsin — county boards throughout the state are attempting to pass ordinances that codify their powers to control a local outbreak of the disease. In their view, this will ensure that local health departments have the ability to enact all necessary measures — such as quarantine and closing schools — in the event of a local spike. Originally, this is what critics of Governor Evers’ extended Safer-at-Home order wanted: local or regional control, not state control. 

The proposed Winnebago County ordinance would largely copy word for word the powers already given to local authorities by existing state statute, which says, “local health officers may do what is reasonable and necessary for the prevention and suppression of disease; may forbid public gatherings when deemed necessary to control outbreaks or epidemics and shall advise the department of measures taken.”

The ordinance would also give the Public Health Officer the authority to enforce public health orders. The enforcement mechanisms would range from fines to suspension of licenses or permits. You can read the full proposal HEREOn June 16, the current Public Health Officer, Doug Gieryn, presented to the County Board on the need to empower local governments to act in such emergencies. You can view his presentation HERE

 

At this time, the Winnebago County Board of Supervisors is expected to take up this ordinance at their July 21 board meeting. I will provide you with more information as it’s available.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, 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, 

gordon-sig.jpg

 


Department of Public Instruction Return to School Guidance 

Last week, the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) released guidance on how school districts can plan for a safe and efficient return to school. The guidance provides several scenarios and instructional models for school districts to consider as they determine how to safely reopen this fall. For instance, the guidance provides detailed information on scheduling modification options; including four-day school weeks, two-day rotations, and A/B week rotations. You can learn more about DPI’s recommendations HERE. 

 

UW Oshkosh Titans Return Plan

UW Oshkosh recently announced its plan for reopening. For the fall semester, students, staff, and faculty will be required to wear face masks, classrooms and other spaces will be rearranged to promote safety, more classes will be offered online than in previous semesters, and preventative health screening options will be provided. You can read the full Titans Return plan HERE.

  

OASD Free Summer Meals

The Oshkosh Area School District (OASD) will serve free “grab-and-go” meals to children this summer on Mondays and Thursdays. Adults are able to pick-up the meals for students in their household — children do not need to be present. Up to 3 days’ worth of breakfast and lunch meals will be available on Mondays, and up to 4 days’ worth of meals will be available on Thursdays. The meals will be offered through Monday, July 27. The distribution sites are listed below:

  • Perry Tipler Middle School 10:15 - 11:15 a.m.
  • Webster Stanley Middle School: 10:15 - 11:15 a.m.
  • Jefferson Elementary School: Noon - 1 p.m.
  • Oshkosh North High School: Noon - 1 p.m.

You can find out more information on OASD’s free summer meals HERE.  

   

Unemployment Insurance Update

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) opened the application portal for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) last week. This benefit provides up to 13 additional weeks of payments to individuals who have exhausted 26 weeks of regular unemployment insurance benefits, or individuals who had their benefit year expire without requalifying for a new benefit year. Those who receive PEUC will also receive the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which is the additional $600 per week benefit. You can learn more about PEUC and apply HERE.

 

I also want to take a moment to provide you with the data on unemployment claims and staffing at DWD. To date, DWD has received 701,454 applications for regular unemployment benefits. They have paid over $2 billion in weekly benefits payments As for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) applications, DWD has received 78,914 completed applications. They have paid over $11 million in weekly benefit payments.

As far as staffing goes, DWD has added 1,146 new staff since mid-March. These additional staff members have allowed DWD to answer more calls, resolve issues with claims faster, and provide claimants with their benefits in a more timely manner. I’ve included a graph below that shows the drastic change in the number of adjudication staff, call center staff, miscellaneous staff, and total staff.

 resized - DWD Staffing.png

While Wisconsin is not alone in dealing with the overwhelming amount of cases due to COVID-19 and the disastrous economic effects it has resulted in, I understand that this situation is extremely personal to anyone who has lost their job. You deserve a reasonable expectation of when you will receive your benefits. And that is what I’m working to get you. 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 over 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  

 

Rental Assistance Program

On June 10, ADVOCAP, Inc. began accepting applications for the Governor’s Rental Assistance Program. This program provides grants of up to $3,000 to help pay for rent and security deposits. 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, and must provide documentation showing that they’ve had significant loss of income due to COVID-19.

To apply, call ADVOCAP, Inc. at (920) 922-7760. You can also learn more about the Rental Assistance Program by visiting the Department of Administration (DOA) website HERE 

  

Top Stories  

New OCI Health Insurance Coverage Tool 

The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) launched a new website, WisCovered.com, to help Wisconsinites get health insurance coverage. This website puts people in touch with experts and provides information on how to access health insurance on HealthCare.gov, BadgerCare Plus, and more. You can read more HERE.

 

Evers announces more than $80 million in financial assistance to K-12, higher education schools

Governor Evers announced that $46 million will be given to K-12 schools and $37 million will be given to higher education institutions to assist with the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. You can read more HERE.

Resources

 
 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|