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COVID-19 E-Update #9

April 30, 2020

Dear Neighbors, 

Thank you, once again, for taking the time to join me for these COVID-19 updates. The landscape of this pandemic is rapidly changing, and I truly appreciate that you take the time to stay up to date with me each week.

Thank you also to our essential workers, who are working around the clock to keep each of us safe, healthy, and keep our world spinning during this crisis. I cannot express how grateful I am to each of you for your work throughout the crisis. I promise I am fighting for you in the legislature, and for the support our whole community needs to weather this storm.

In my last e-update, I shared information on the extended Safer at Home order, which took effect on April 24th, and Governor Evers’ “Badger Bounce Back” plan for safely reopening our state. The criteria in the plan include expanded contact tracing in order to monitor contacts of infected people and notify them of their exposure; access to more testing and labs; access to more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and supplies; increased hospital capacity; and a reduction in the number of cases. As our state begins to hit these benchmarks, the Safer at Home order will be dialed back.

This week, Governor Evers announced a turn of the dial, providing more opportunities for businesses to responsibly resume work. The Governor expanded allowable operations for non-essential businesses, with further details below. 

I’ve also been hearing from many of you who are experiencing delays in Unemployment Insurance (UI) case determinations and difficulties in contacting the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) by phone. DWD has been overwhelmed with Unemployment Insurance claims, receiving over 6 million calls last week. DWD has been reassigning and adding more staff as fast as they can, and a new call center employing 500 people will come online next week. If you are struggling to receive unemployment, I have more information and updates below, and my office is happy to assist you if you call or reply to this email.

Finally, I know that we all are beginning to get stir crazy at home, but it is so important that we continue to practice social distancing and stay home when we can. That’s why I’m taking the “Stay Safe Racine” Pledge along with other local leaders.  The sooner we see a reduction in cases, the sooner we can begin turning the dial more to open the state. Visit StaySafeRacine.org to learn more! 

As of today, 6,854 people in Wisconsin have tested positive for COVID-19. That’s an increase in 334 new cases since yesterday. COVID-19 hospitalizations have reached 1,512 cases, and 316 people have died as the result of the virus. Please continue to stay #SaferAtHome as much as possible and practice social distancing when you are out and about.

If you have any questions, would like more information, or need assistance navigating state government, you can always reach out to my office by phone at (608) 266-0634 or via email at rep.neubauer@legis.wisconsin.gov (or just reply to this email!) While we are practicing social distancing and working from home, my staff and I are still answering the phone, checking email, and working with state and local agencies every weekday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


In Solidarity,

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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.  
Turning the Dial 

Last week, the extended Safer at Home order went into effect. This order expanded the activities non-essential businesses can do as part of their necessary operations, including deliveries, mailings, and curb-side pick-up.

This week, we saw the first official “turn of the dial” under the Badger Bounce Back plan. To provide opportunities for more businesses to responsibly reopen, the Governor expanded allowable operations for non-essential businesses. As of yesterday, the following businesses will be permitted to operate as long as payments are completed online or over the phone, proper cleaning procedures are in place, and the service can be provided by one person:

  • Dog groomers
  • Repair services
  • Upholstery businesses
  • Taxidermy businesses
  • Outdoor recreational rental services
  • Automatic or self-service car washes

You can read the order HERE, and Frequently Asked Questions HERE. If you don’t know if your business is allowed to operate or what services you can provide, you can fill out the form on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation website HERE (scroll to the bottom of the page). WEDC reviews each inquiry on a case-by-case basis and will provide you with a formal opinion.

Stay Safe Racine

Racinians, our community needs your help! To slow the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus and ensure that our city, our community, our neighbors, and your loved ones stay safe during the COVID-19 crisis. Visit staysaferacine.org to learn more about how you can support #StaySafeRacine. We’re all in this together!

For more information, check out this article from the Racine Journal Times.

Fighting for Essential Workers 
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I have heard from many of you asking the legislature to act to support the workers providing childcare for other essential workers in recent weeks. Yesterday afternoon, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) in conjunction with the Evers Administration submitted a request to the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee to allocate some of the money our state received from the Federal CARES Act as a Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG).

This plan was developed between DCF and professionals and experts in the field, and aims to use the funding to cover three top priorities:

  1. Provide funding for child care providers that have stayed open in order to serve children of essential workers during the pandemic. According to the request approximately 1,000 licensed group providers and 1,500 family providers remain open during the pandemic.
  2. Provide hazard pay for these child care workers.
  3. Provide funding for child care providers that have been forced to close during the pandemic, so that once the state reopens and all Wisconsinites can return to work, there are enough child care providers for working families. According to the request, approximately 1,200 licensed group and 350 certified or licensed family child care providers are temporarily closed.

Two-thirds of the funding would be dedicated to supporting providers who have remained open to serve the children of essential workers, with the remaining third reserved for hazard pay and assisting providers who have been forced to close. 

Providing hazard pay for child care workers who are taking care of the children of essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic is vital, as is supporting the small businesses around the state that care for our children in good times and bad. Please consider sharing your support with your legislators and with the Joint Finance Committee members!

34 State Parks to Reopen May 1

On Friday, May 1, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will reopen 34 state parks and forests under special conditions. The new conditions will minimize overcrowding, enforce social distancing requirements, and promote a safe and enjoyable experience for staff and visitors. Below are a few of the changes that will be implemented: 

  • An annual park sticker and/or trail pass will be required to visit state parks and trails. 
  • State parks and forests will be open from 6am to 7pm daily.
  • Properties will be closed to the public every Wednesday for maintenance and upkeep.
  • At times, many properties will reach their predetermined safety capacity. When this happens, visitors may be denied entry to the park until existing visitors leave. Visitors are encouraged to visit during non-peak hours (before 10am and after 4pm).
  • Restrooms at all properties will be closed.
  • Hunting and fishing will be allowed on properties in accordance with the season structure and hours.
  • DNR boat launches are open at properties.
  • All linear/rail-trails are open to the public, which includes ATV trails.
  • Camping, group camps, and shelters will remain closed until May 26.

For specific details on the reopening of state parks, visit the DNR website HERE. 

Having Trouble Receiving Unemployment?

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. 

*Please note: If your claim is "pending", it means there are eligibility issues that require further information or investigation. You do not need to take further action at this time unless DWD tells you otherwise. Typically, each investigation will take no longer than 28 days. For cases that are "pending", my office is unable to assist.

If you are experiencing a different issue with your application, please email Rep.Neubauer@legis.wisconsin.gov with the following information: 

  • Your full name 
  • Your home address and phone number
  • The date of your initial application
  • Which weeks you have filed claims for
  • Whether you applied online
  • What the current status of your application or claim(s) is in the system
  • Whether you are a W-2 employee or an independent contractor

My staff will send this information to DWD and request that they promptly look into your case. I understand that this is a difficult financial time for many in our community, and I am committed to helping you receive your benefits in a timely manner wherever I can. 

Pandemic Unemployment Coverage for Self-Employed Workers & Independent Contractors 

The Department of Workforce Development’s application system is now live for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), the unemployment insurance program created by the federal CARES Act. you can fill out your application HERE: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/pua/.

PUA is a federal benefit available to workers who are unable to work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and do not qualify for Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI).

Workers who may qualify for PUA include:

  • Independent contractors
  • Self-employed workers
  • Non-profit employees
  • Part-time workers who do not have enough work history to be eligible for a claim

Claimants under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance are eligible for up to 39 weeks of benefits at the following rates: 

Payment Amount:

    • Minimum weekly benefit amount: $163.
    • Maximum weekly benefit amount: $370.
  • Benefit Amount:
    • 1% of 2019 net income; subject to PUA minimum and maximum.
  • Duration of PUA Benefits (up to 39 weeks):
    • First Payable Week: Retroactive to week ending February 8, 2020 (or the first week an individual is out of work due to COVID-19, whichever is later).
    • Last Payable Week: Week ending December 26, 2020.

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) will also begin in Wisconsin during the week of April 26, 2020.

Unemployment claimants will be eligible for the additional $600 per week, added directly into their unemployment benefits without any additional action. These payments will be retroactive to April 4, 2020, and will continue for those receiving unemployment benefits through July 25, 2020. For more information, visit this web page: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/fpuc/.

If you have any other questions or need help with this or any other state government issue, always feel free to reach out! We’re happy to help wherever we can.

Tax Relief for Businesses

Businesses can request tax relief from the Department of Revenue. The following taxes are included: withholding, state and county sales tax, excise tax, local expo district tax, premier resort area tax, limousine tax, rental car tax, police and fire protection fee, and dry cleaning licensing fees. Businesses can fill out the COVID-19 Tax Relief form HERE.   

New Funding for Paycheck Protection Program

Last week, President Trump signed another COVID-19 rescue package into law. This package includes $310 billion in additional funds for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Due to the high demand, the first round of funds for PPP was exhausted in just two weeks.

PPP is a loan through the Small Business Association (SBA) that provides a direct incentive for small businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The loan will be forgiven if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest, or utilities. 

You can apply for PPP through certain lenders — under the new legislation, the number of eligible lenders has increased. You should consult with your local lender to see if they are participating in the program. If you have already started the PPP application process with a lender, you should not have to restart the process. However, you should contact your lender to be safe. 

For additional questions on PPP, you can visit the SBA website 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 tool includes information on 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 

COVID-19 Scam Alert: 

Stay Safe and Stay Aware

With all of the confusion due to the pandemic, scammers are trying to take advantage of us. Follow these quick tips to stay safe and protect yourself from scammers offering fake COVID-19 insurance products or attempting to steal your personal information.

  • Watch out for scammers offering fake, low-cost COVID-19 insurance to cover medical treatments.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Beware of scammers contacting you claiming your health insurance has been canceled and then providing a toll-free phone number or malware link to click in hopes of stealing your personal information.
  • To protect yourself, hang up on robocalls and remember to never disclose personal information over the phone.
  • If you are ever unsure that an insurance company or agent selling you a product is legitimate and licensed to sell insurance in Wisconsin, you can visit the following website from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.
  • To report suspected scams, fraud, false marketing claims, or other consumer complaints related to COVID-19, please contact the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Consumer Protection Hotline at DATCPHotline@wisconsin.gov or (800) 422-7128, or file an online complaint.

Safer Shopping During COVID-19

When you head to the store next, there are several things you can do to minimize your potential exposure to COVID-19. The Department of Health Services (DHS) recommends that you: 

  • Watch what you touch 
    • Disinfect cart and basket handles 
    • Wash food containers, produce, etc. when you get home
  • Practice personal hygiene 
    • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds 
    • Cover your mouth and nose when you cough or sneeze 
    • Wear a face covering (see below for how to make your own!)
  • Keep 6 feet away from other people 

Remember, when you do these things you are being considerate of others and playing your role in slowing down the spread of this virus. You can read more about DHS's shopping tips HERE. ​

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