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COVID-19 Update #9

 

Dear Friends & Neighbors, 

These last few weeks have been unpredictable and the situation caused by this pandemic has and will continue to change rapidly, but I would like to thank the entire Oshkosh community for remaining resilient throughout this crisis. 

Moving forward, I am only able to send you e-updates related to COVID-19. This is because, beginning today (April 15), legislators who are up for re-election in November are prohibited from sending more than 49 people the same correspondence from their legislative office. This rule is in place so that incumbents do not have an unfair advantage over their opponents by utilizing taxpayer resources for promotion. An exception to the rule has been made for COVID-19 information, given the unprecedented times and need for regular communication. 

This edition of my e-update includes an overview of Wisconsin's COVID-19 relief bill, unemployment benefit updates, a new COVID-19 tracking tool from the Wisconsin Hospitals Association, and advice on getting in touch with the Governor's office.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to 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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Wisconsin COVID-19 Relief Bill

Yesterday, April 14, the Assembly convened in extraordinary session to take up legislation that addresses the public health issues and economic crisis caused by COVID-19 in Wisconsin. The bill passed 97-2 and was sent to the Senate, where it will be voted on today. I expect this legislation will be signed into law by Governor Tony Evers this week. 

I've highlighted a few of the provisions below: 

  • Temporarily waives the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits. 
  • Permits the Department of Health Services (DHS) to apply for federal Medicaid waivers, which will provide Wisconsin with emergency healthcare funding. 
  • Requires health insurers to cover COVID-19 testing without charging a co-pay.
  • Allows former and out-of-state healthcare providers to get temporary credentials to practice in Wisconsin. 
  • Enables households to apply for heating assistance through the Department of Administration's (DOA) low-income home energy assistance program anytime during 2020. 

I believe this bipartisan legislation takes important, initial steps toward responding to the immediate needs of individuals, families, and businesses. There is still more work to be done, however, and one bill is not sufficient to fully meet the short-term and long-term demands of our state. 

I was especially disappointed that the Legislature decided to not act on safeguarding our future elections. What we witnessed on April 7 at polling places across Wisconsin was a tragedy, and worse, and avoidable tragedy. Forcing people to make the impossible choice between risking their health and exercising their right to vote is one of the most cynical things I've seen during my time in public service. During this public health crisis, it is important that we preserve and protect the fundamentals of our democracy. We need to act urgently to maximize voter accessibility. 

I will continue to advocate on this important matter, and remain dedicated to finding legislative solutions that support Wisconsinites during this pandemic. 

   

Unemployment Benefit Updates

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has been working hard to update their systems to adjust for the unemployment changes in the federal CARES Act. This week, they announced: 

  1. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (additional $600 per week) will be available beginning the week of April 26. This benefit will be automatically added to your weekly claims. 
  2. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (new unemployment insurance for those not covered under the regular insurance - self-employed, independent contractors, etc.) will begin accepting applications the week of April 21. Your first payable week will be retroactive to the first week you were out of work due to COVID-19 (as long as that was not before the week ending on February 8). 
  3. The Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (additional 13 weeks of regular unemployment insurance) will be available soon. 

For more detailed information, visit the DWD CARES Act webpage HERE

 

COVID-19 Situational Awareness Update Tool

The COVID-19 Situational Awareness Update Tool was developed by the Wisconsin Hospital Association Information Center (WHAIC) in collaboration with the Department of Health Services (DHS). The webpage includes the latest information on hospitals statewide and at the regional level. Information detailed includes cases per 1,000 people, total hospital admissions, number of hospitals with 7 days or less Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), positive COVID-19 cases identified, deaths, bed count, and ventilator availability. You can access this information HERE

 

Getting in Touch with the Governor's Office

Due to the high volume of phone calls the Governor's office has been receiving, they are unable to answer all calls and their voicemail system does not allow for more than 65 messages at once. They have staff dedicated solely to answering the phones and checking the voicemail, however, to ensure you are responded to in a timely manner I encourage you to fill out their online contact form with any questions or concerns HERE

 

Having Trouble Receiving your Unemployment Benefits?

If it has been at least three weeks since you submitted your application and you have not received your benefits, my office may be able to help you. Email Rep.Hintz@legis.wisconsin.gov with the following information: 

  • Full name 
  • Phone number
  • Issue you want to be resolved (i.e. When will I receive my benefits?)
  • Status of your application
    • Did you apply online?
    • What date did you submit it? 
    • Are you awaiting a decision on something that had to be investigated? 

My staff will send this information to the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and request that they promptly look into your case. I understand that this is a difficult financial time for many, and I am committed to helping you receive your benefits in a timely manner.

  

CDC Guidance on Face Masks

The Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing requirements are difficult to maintain, such as in grocery stores and pharmacies. Face masks are an effective way to capture droplets, which are a common mode of transmission for COVID-19. Read more about why face coverings are important and how to make your own HERE

 

Oshkosh Area School District Free Weekend Meals

The Oshkosh Area School District (OASD) expanded its free Grab-and-Go Meal Program to include weekend meals. There will be no weekend meal distribution sites. Instead, students, families, and community members can visit a meal distribution site on Fridays to receive food for the weekend. You can find the listing of sites 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|