Friends and Neighbors,

A few short weeks ago, President Trump was telling the nation Covid-19 was nothing to worry about and simply a Democratic hoax.  Unfortunately, it is a very real global pandemic and the reluctance to recognize it and immediately take action to adequately prepare contributed to a lack of available tests, supplies, equipment, and other responsive capabilities.  

Although the initial inaction by the White House was disappointing and harmful, the more important thing is that we work together to get through this from both a medical and economic standpoint.  It has been positive to see Congress has been able to pass relief legislation, with further and more broad legislation being considered. 

Unfortunately, state Republican legislative leaders have so far refused to call a session of the legislature to address state legislation regarding Covid-19 that could benefit families, workers, and businesses, including waiving the one week delay before unemployment benefits are paid.  Nonetheless, I have been receiving regular briefings from Governor Evers’ Office and cabinet agency secretaries about actions being taken to stem the spread and to help and protect the people of Wisconsin.  I do hope and expect legislators to meet in the coming weeks to discuss legislation to address the issues resulting from the pandemic as well.  There are provisions in the law for the legislature to take action remotely in times of emergency.

Below is the best and most current information on the state of Covid-19 in Wisconsin, what you should be doing to help contain the spread, what you can do to help keep yourself and your families safe, information about state agencies and services, resources, and what we are doing here in Madison to address the pandemic.

 My staff is currently working remotely to reduce person-to-person contact, but as always, if you would need information from me or have any questions in general, please contact me at (608) 266-0455 or


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What is COVID-19?

In December 2019, a new strain of coronavirus emerged, COVID-19. Illnesses associated with this virus were first reported in Wuhan, China. The primary way COVID-19 is spread to others is when an infected person coughs or sneezes. This is similar to how the flu is spread. The virus is found in droplets from the throat and nose. When someone coughs or sneezes, other people near them can breathe in those droplets. The virus can also spread when someone touches an object with the virus on it. If that person touches their mouth, face, or eyes the virus can make them sick. Since COVID-19 is very new, there is much more to learn about the spread, severity, and other features of this virus. 


How can I prevent illness from COVID-19? 

The best way to prevent illness from COVID-19 is to avoid being exposed to the virus.  

Strategies for protecting yourself: 

Strategies for protecting others: 

Source of the information above: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

 Flattening the Curve 

Slowing down the rate of an epidemic is critical to ensure our health care systems are not overwhelmed.

While COVID-19 is beyond the containment phase, we can "flatten the curve" so cases are spread out over a longer distance of time, therefore providing our hospitals and health centers time to deal with current cases and increase capacity. Social distancing is our best tool to slow the transmissions of this virus. So please, take seriously the calls to stop attending large public gatherings whenever possible. 

You can read more about this important public health measure here.

State Government Response 

On Thursday, March 12, Governor Tony Evers declared a public health emergency in Wisconsin, allowing DHS to take all necessary and appropriate measures to prevent and respond to the outbreak. His Executive Order also authorizes the Wisconsin National Guard to assist in the state's response, directs all state agencies to assist, and eases administrative rules that could hinder the state's response. 

Governor Evers and his administration are working around the clock to ensure that COVID-19 does not become widespread in our state. In addition, experts at DHS are working closely with local and federal partners to respond aggressively to the situation. 

State government plays an important role in public health, and the legislature should not rule out taking action to help people in the event that the spread of the virus increases. It's important to remember that guidance will continue to evolve so please monitor the DHS website for the latest information. 


These links are being updated on a daily (and sometimes hourly) basis. Be sure to continue checking these as the situation evolves.

Important Update from Governor Evers and DHS

Governor Evers directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue an agency order prohibiting mass gatherings of 10 people or more to slow the spread of COVID-19.  This is effective as of 5:00p.m. Tuesday, March 17th. 

You can read the order HERE. The order makes exceptions for: 


With the increasing number of employees working from home, hackers have taken advantage of installing and disseminating malware embedded into links. Be cautious about who may be trying to take advantage of you during this public health emergency. 

Individuals should be especially vigilant in opening attachments even if received from a known source. 

Article from The Washington Post on cybersecurity HERE

SBA Disaster Loans

The US Small Business Administration (SBA) will be providing disaster assistance loans to businesses who suffer substantial economic injury due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. In order for a state to qualify for loans, its Governor must submit an application directly to SBA documenting statewide examples of businesses negatively impacted by the outbreak. Governor Evers has taken these actions.  This should mean that SBA will act on the Wisconsin application by the end of this week so that businesses may start applying for loans early next week at the latest.

For more information about the SBA disaster assistance, visit: .

Local economic development officials and businesses should be encouraged to work directly with their regional WEDC economic development director to document their losses for the state’s application for SBA assistance. 

State Agency Actions

Department of Workforce Development

Apply for Unemployment Benefits

 If your workplace shuts down or work hours are cut due to COVID-19, you may be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits through the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. You can apply HERE

 Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation has announced has announced targeted grants to provide some assistance to impacted small business.

Public Service Commission

Access to Utilities during COVID-19

Department of Children and Families

Child care information

Child welfare information

Department of Public Instruction

Standardized Testing Requirements

It will not be possible to complete mandated standardized testing this year. DPI said they will aggressively pursue a waiver request to the United States Department of Education (USDE) from this requirement and will work with the Legislature and Governor's office around suspending the state testing requirements for this spring.

School Meals

Due to the school closures, DPI requested a waiver from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to serve food in non-group settings. This waiver request was approved and can be viewed here. DPI is also pursuing exemptions to any regulations that prevent schools from providing meals to students. 

Department of Transportation

Online Services

The majority of DMV services can be done online. Use these shortcuts and save yourself a trip to the DMV:

COVID Relief Permits

COVID-19 Relief Effort Supply Permits will allow for additional supplies to be moved across Wisconsin interstates, most highways and local roadways by increasing weight limits and waiving truck driver hours of service limitations.

 Department of Natural Resources 

Counter Service

Hunting & Fishing Licenses 


UW-System COVID-19 Preparedness page. This page includes UW-System’s response as well as links to what each campus is doing to address the outbreak. 

Department of Trade, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection

Price Gouging




Remember, my office continues to seek out the most up-to-date information regarding Covid-19. If you have any questions about issues you are experiencing related to the virus that my staff may be able to answer or help you with, please feel free to call at 608-266-0455 or reach me by e-mail at