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COVID-19 E-Update #13

May 28, 2020

Dear Neighbor, 

Thank you for joining me for another weekly update on COVID-19 and the response in Wisconsin and in the Racine community. I know the last two months have not been easy, but I am so grateful all of you are working to stay informed, support our neighbors, and protect our community. 

Racine and the State of Wisconsin continue to see rapid growth in COVID-19 case numbers. Since my e-update last week, the City of Racine has seen 376 new confirmed cases, for a total of 1117 confirmed cases. Statewide, we now have 16,974 cases, an increase of 3,089 cases from this time last week. We are still in a public health emergency and, together, we must work to minimize our risk and protect each other. 

One of the best ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is to wear a face mask when you leave your home. New research is showing that cloth face masks are effective at capturing respiratory droplets, the primary mode of infection for COVID-19. If we all wear masks, even without COVID-19 symptoms, we can reduce the risk for our friends, family, and neighbors. My mask protects you; your mask protects me. Together, we can stop the spread of COVID-19.

We must also continue to physically distance ourselves from others, limit the number of trips out of our homes, wash our hands regularly, cover our coughs and sneezes, and practice all of the other protective measures we’ve been taking for the past two months. 

There is still so much uncertainty and so much that we don’t understand about COVID-19. What we do know is that we will be dealing with the health and economic impacts it brings for the next several years. It will take all of us to slow the spread of this virus and protect the health of our family, friends, and neighbors. Let’s #StaySafeRacine.

While I know this is a difficult time for everyone, we will get through this together. My staff and I are always here to help wherever we can. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us via phone at (608) 266-0634 or via email at rep.neubauer@legis.wisconsin.gov.


In Solidarity,

 2018 NEUBAUER Signature.jpg

Greta Neubauer

State Representative

66th Assembly District


Important Links for COVID-19 Information: 

  • The Governor's office has launched a website with information and resources throughout the state government. You can visit it HERE.
  • The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has a website tracking COVID-19 in Wisconsin, including health-related resources from the CDC. This website is updated daily by 2:00 p.m. You can visit it HERE.
  • The City and County of Racine have launched COVID-19/Coronavirus websites with local information and resources. You can find Racine County’s website HERE, including daily updates from the Joint Information Center. The City of Racine’s website is available HERE.
  • This is a non-exhaustive list of resources and updates --  if you don’t find what you’re looking for here, you can find information for non-medical services online at 211 Wisconsin, dial 211 on your phone, or text your ZIP code to 898211.  

FREE COVID-19 Testing Still Available through 5/30/20

Free COVID-19 testing is still available in Racine through Saturday, May 30. Testing is available on a first-come, first-served basis for community members aged 5 and up. Interpreters will be available for Spanish speakers at the testing site.

Testing will be available at:

Festival Hall, 5 Fifth St.

11:30 am to 7:30 pm Friday, May 29

11:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday, May 30

Test results are expected within 48 hours, and members of the Wisconsin National Guard will call individuals who test negative, while the Public Health Department will call those who test positive to conduct contact tracing. 

Please remember to wear your mask and follow safety guidelines to protect medical personnel and members of the National Guard who will be staffing the site!

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CARES Act Program Updates

This week, we have seen a number of new programs announced to support critical parts of our state economy, workers, and families in Wisconsin through this crisis. These initiatives are part of the $1.9 billion Wisconsin received from the federal CARES Act, and I’ll be sharing more details about each of them as news develops!

Reminder: Rental Assistance Program

Last week, Governor Evers announced the Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program (WRAP), a $25 million investment to provide short-term rental assistance of up to $3,000 to eligible Wisconsinites who experience income loss as a result of COVID-19. Details regarding the program are available HERE

Agencies will begin accepting applications on or before June 8, 2020. To apply, Racine residents should contact the Racine/Kenosha Community Action Agency at (262) 637-8377. For more information, check out the infographic below!

WRAP updated infographic.jpg

Reminder: Assistance for Small Business Owners

Last week, Governor Evers and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) unveiled a Rapid Execution Small Business Grant Program utilizing funding from the federal CARES Act. As small businesses across Wisconsin work to keep their employees and customers safe, WEDC will provide Wisconsin small businesses with cash grants to assist with the costs of business interruption or for health and safety improvements, wages and salaries, rent, mortgages, and inventory. For more information regarding this new program, read the announcement HERE.

New Program: Local Government Aid Grants 


Earlier this week, Governor Evers announced aid grants for local governments as part of the CARES Act funding. These grants are for all units of local government to reimburse 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, and no less than $5,000 will be provided, regardless of the size of the population. 

The City of Racine will receive a grant of $1,259,098, and Racine County will receive $3,194,395. You can read more about the Local Government Aid Grants HERE.

Wisconsin Elections Commission Approves Plan to Send Absentee Ballot Applications

Last night, the Wisconsin Elections Commission unanimously approved a proposal to send absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in Wisconsin ahead of November as our state sees increased COVID-19 cases. While I wish we could have seen this action before April's election, I am hopeful that we can minimize the impact of COVID-19 by maximizing the use of mail-in absentee ballots for the rest of 2020.

As this proposal moves forward, I think there are still a few critical areas that it does not address:

  • This is an application for a ballot, and not the ballot itself. Please remember to fill out the application (or do it online today at myvote.wi.gov) or you will not receive an absentee ballot!
  • This does not eliminate the witness requirement for absentee ballots. The witness requirement was a common issue many of you contacted me about, especially for people who are isolating due to their high-risk status; people who live alone; and people in quarantine with COVID-19.

I am still hopeful that the Assembly may take up the bill I helped to introduce to better support Vote by Mail during the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the interim, this is important progress.

For more information regarding this decision, see this article from Wisconsin Public Radio. Thank you all for your advocacy on this issue, it is truly having an impact!

Unemployment Updates 

The Department of Workforce Development is continuing to add new staff to assist in processing unemployment and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) applications and claims. A brand-new call center recently opened with 200 staff to help alleviate phone call wait times. DWD anticipates the center will be fully staffed with up to 600 people by the end of June.

Some PUA applicants began receiving payments last week. However, others may be seeing longer wait times for applications to be processed, because each application must be assessed by hand based on individual details.

If you have questions about the unemployment or PUA processes, the “Frequently Asked Questions” sections on the DWD website are updated regularly with new information. You can find the FAQ pages HERE.

Unemployment Assistance

If you applied for unemployment benefits but have not received them, my office may be able to help. If it has been at least three weeks since you submitted your application and you have not received your benefits, please email Rep.Neubauer@legis.wisconsin.gov with the following information: 

  • Full name (first name, last name, and middle initial)
  • Date of birth and last four digits of your Social Security Number
  • Address and phone number
  • Issue that needs to be resolved 
  • Information on your application
    • Date of your initial application
    • Did you apply for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)? 
    • What is the status of your claims? (i.e. pending due to review of ability to work) 
    • Have you received any communication from DWD since you submitted your application? (i.e. they asked you to submit pay stubs) 

My staff will send this information to the Department of Workforce Development 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 unemployment benefits in a timely manner.

State Parks Hours Update 

As of last week, all Wisconsin state park system properties have now returned to regular operating hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, and properties will no longer be closed Wednesdays.

In addition, a limited number of day-use area restrooms at park properties will reopen for public use beginning Wednesday, June 3. Visitors are reminded to plan ahead as well as bring hand sanitizer in the event it is not available at facilities.

All group, family and indoor group campsites will remain closed through June 7. All events and shelter reservations will also be canceled through June 7. Permit and reservation holders will be contacted and provided a full refund. The status of events, reservations and camping after June 7 is currently under review.

You can read more about the updates from DNR here.

OCI Update: Private Insurance Must Cover COVID-19 Testing

This week, Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable issued a notice to insurers to help clarify language relating to testing for COVID-19 that was passed in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Corona Virus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). 

  • Testing for COVID-19 must be covered by private health insurance, including cost-sharing like copays for office, urgent care, and emergency department visits under the FFCRA and CARES.
  • Individuals with private insurance who have been tested for COVID-19 and subsequently received a bill to cover associated costs like the office visit or handling costs should speak to their insurer about having those services covered without cost-sharing. Wisconsinites can also file a complaint with OCI online here or by calling 1-800-236-8517.
  • Any office visit during which a provider determines a COVID-19 test is needed and orders a test must also be covered by most insurers without cost-sharing.
  • Enacted in March 2020, the FFCRA and CARES Act together require many private insurance plans to cover COVID-19 testing and related services, including office visits (both in-person and telehealth), urgent care visits, and emergency department visits that are related to diagnostic testing for COVID-19. Both acts also collectively require those insurers to provide these services at no cost to those they insure. The CARES Act specifically expanded the range of COVID-19 diagnostic services that must be covered and requires any COVID-19 vaccine to be covered at no cost to consumers.
  • Federal requirements regarding testing include most health insurers. Specifically, these federal requirements apply to plans that are fully insured or self-funded plans, non-federal, governmental plans, and church plans. Individual and group health insurance plans offered through and outside of the federal Marketplace as well as grandfathered and transitional health plans must also meet these requirements.
  • More information can be found in the complete notice to insurers here. Insurers with questions about the FFRA and Cares Act are encouraged to consult this Frequently Asked Questions resource from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) or the federal guidance issued by CMS and the Departments of Labor and the Treasury.

Safe Shopping Resources During COVID-19:

The Racine Mobile Market

Struggling to make it to the grocery store during COVID-19? The Racine Mobile Market is continuing to make stops throughout the Racine area during the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone is welcome to shop at the market, which is  run by the Hunger Task Force and stocked by Malicki’s Piggy Wiggly. The market accepts debit, credit and Quest/EBT cards, but not cash.

The Hunger Task Force has enacted new public health guidance at each mobile market stop to ensure shoppers maintain social distancing. The Mobile Market will take your grocery orders at the entrance, where a staffer will track and complete your shopping and then completes the payment transaction at the other end of the bus. These measures ensure that only one individual — who wears gloves at all times — is handling produce, shopping carts and grocery bags before you receive your groceries. Shoppers are asked to maintain 6 feet of distance in line. 

To find out where the Racine Mobile Market is stopping next, check the calendar HERE.