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COVID-19 E-Update #11

May 14, 2020

Dear Neighbor, 

Thank you, once again, for taking the time to join me for these weekly COVID-19 updates. Since my update last week, we have seen sudden and radical changes to the COVID-19 response in Wisconsin, not least last night’s deeply disappointing Wisconsin Supreme Court decision striking the Safer at Home order.

This week, I’ll be sharing updates on what this ruling means for Wisconsin and for the Racine community. I’ll also be sharing information regarding the COVID-19 Response Plan, a new policy proposal I helped to introduce in the Legislature today. Because this pandemic will continue regardless of the Safer at Home decision, you’ll also find my regular round up of community and state resources and reminders as our community continues to navigate  this pandemic.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases continue to grow in Wisconsin and in our own community. Just last Thursday, I shared that 9,215 people in Wisconsin tested positive for COVID-19, and 374 people had died as a result of the virus. This has drastically increased over the last week. Today, 11,275 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in our state, and 434 have passed away. Racine continues to have one of the highest COVID-19 growth rates in the nation.

I am pleased to share in this update that next week, Racine will have its own community testing center at Festival Hall, where community members will be able to get a free COVID-19 test. (More details below!) However, it will take all of us working together to turn this tide for our community. 

It is critically important that we continue to practice social distancing and stay home when we can. We must continue to wear homemade masks, cover our coughs and sneezes, and wash our hands frequently. The sooner we can reduce the number of COVID-19 cases, the sooner we can loosen local restrictions. Visit StaySafeRacine.com to learn more! 


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.  
Supreme Court Update:
Safer at Home Struck Down

Yesterday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a decision in Legislature v. Palm, the lawsuit brought by Republican Legislative leaders against the Safer at Home. This 4-3 decision struck down the order without a stay, meaning it was removed immediately.

In the immediate term, what this means for our state is that individual counties and communities will set their own rules and restrictions for dealing with COVID-19, if any. The City of Racine did reinstate the Safer at Home rules for our community, with "Turn of the Dial" amendments Gov. Evers already enacted. We will also begin an administrative rulemaking process between DHS and the legislature, but since Speaker Vos has said he is happy with piecemeal rules across the state, I am unsure if we will see new rules enacted from this process.

As a legislator and a community member, I am deeply concerned about the Supreme Court’s decision striking the Safer at Home order. This decision will have immediate and long-lasting impacts when it comes to the health and safety of people throughout Wisconsin, but especially in Racine, which has made national news due to a drastic increase in COVID-19 cases in recent days. 

The decision to strike Safer at Home immediately without a stay only creates further chaos, confusion, and danger for Wisconsinites. Unfortunately, Republicans have put forth no constructive plan to safely control COVID-19 in the absence of Safer at Home, and now we are reduced to relying on piecemeal local action, at best, in the interim.

I will continue working alongside my colleagues in local and state government to protect the people of Wisconsin to the best of my ability. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have thoughts as we move forward in dealing with this pandemic.

To read the full Legislature v. Palm opinion, click HERE

To read the City of Racine's order, check out the Racine Journal Times story HERE.


Democrats Release

COVID-19 Response Plan

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Today, along with my Democratic colleagues in the Legislature, I introduced the COVID-19 Response Plan. This plan outlines the next steps the Legislature can take to address the many challenges Wisconsin faces due to the public health crisis. Our COVID-19 Response Plan continues the necessary work of helping families, workers and businesses in every corner of Wisconsin. 


The response to COVID-19 is a multi-faceted, national effort, but there are things that the State Legislature can and must do to support our constituents. While the legislature took some initial steps to deal with this crisis in April, this is no time to close up shop and go home.The COVID-19 Response Plan is the critical next step in helping families and businesses in every corner of Wisconsin, slowing the spread of COVID-19, and safely reopening portions of our economy.

The plan is built on three cornerstones: supporting healthcare, the economy, and our democracy. Key policies in this plan include:

  • Hazard pay, paid sick leave, and full healthcare coverage for healthcare heroes
  • Increased access to Medicaid for struggling families
  • Support for essential workers with an “essential worker tax credit”
  • Long-term, low interest loans and grants for small businesses
  • Support for child care providers, farmers, and school employees
  • Funding for election infrastructure and mail-in ballots

We need every elected official to live up to their oath to do everything possible to help their constituents through the public health crisis. I hope you'll join me in advocating for this plan with your legislators as we work to support essential workers and struggling families, expand access to healthcare, and facilitate voting by mail.

Click here to find out more and make your voice heard!

Free COVID-19 Testing

Available in Racine

After advocating for a Racine testing center alongside the City of Racine, I am very pleased to share that free COVID-19 testing will be available to anyone in our community starting next week. Interpreters will be available for Spanish speakers at the testing site.

Testing will be available at:

Festival Hall, 5 Fifth St.

Monday, May 18 through Friday, May 22

9 AM to 6 PM

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!

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

Agency Updates & Community Resources

Unemployment Insurance and the

Supreme Court Ruling

Over the last two months, I have received many questions and requests for assistance with Unemployment Insurance. I know that with yesterday’s ruling striking the Safer at Home order, many of you may have questions regarding how this will impact unemployment benefits. The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) shared the guidance below for us:

  • It does not impact applications submitted or claims pending. Benefits will be paid to eligible claimants, even if the person returns to work before their claim is deemed eligible.
  • It does not impact federal programs like FPUC, PUA or PEUC.
  • It does not change work search. Governor Tony Evers waived work search March 12, 2020. Work search is still considered satisfied through the end of September 2020.
  • It does impact unemployment eligibility in this way: If an employer now has work for an employee who was laid off or furloughed and that employee refuses to return to work, that will cause an eligibility issue that must be adjudicated.

Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are totally or partially unemployed due to no fault of their own. If the employee—not the employer—is choosing not to work, the employee is likely not eligible for UI benefits. However, each circumstance is different, and the facts of each case do matter. If you have questions about whether you are eligible for benefits, it is best to apply for unemployment. (Individuals considered ineligible for unemployment may be eligible for PUA).


Struggling to Receive Unemployment Benefits?

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 
  • Phone number
  • Issue that needs to be resolved 
  • Information on your application
    • Did you apply for regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)? 
    • What date did you submit your application? 
    • 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.


Wisconsin State Parks Updates 


On May 1, Governor Evers reopened 34 state park and forest properties, as outdoor activity is considered essential during COVID-19. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) implemented several changes to park operations to minimize overcrowding, enforce social distancing requirements, and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors and staff. The DNR has established a dashboard where you can view real-time capacity for each property. Before visiting a state park, you may find it helpful to view the status here.

State parks and forest admission passes are required, and may now be purchased online here.


Road Test Waivers Available for Teens

Starting Monday, parents now have the option to waive road tests for their 16- and 17-year-olds who have successfully completed all of the driver training requirements due to backlogs caused by COVID-19. Eligible teens must complete a driver education class, behind-the-wheel training with a licensed instructor, and at least 30 hours of driving with their parent or sponsor. The waiver was put in place to cut down on the road test backlog and is expected to remain in effect until the end of 2020. In-person road tests will be available beginning May 26. You can read more about this change, as well as other efforts the DMV is taking to address the backlog demand, HERE.


Community Gardening and COVID-19

As we enter into the spring planting season, it is important to note that community gardening for food production is a great way to supplement your family's diet and get outdoors safely during the pandemic. The Department of Health Services (DHS) has developed a list of best practices for community gardens HERE to help us stay safe and healthy during COVID-19.


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.


Best Practices for Businesses Reopening

Released by Evers Administration

Governor Evers and WEDC rolled out best practices for businesses to follow when the economy begins to re-open. The plan offers important guidelines for businesses to re-engage safely so employees and customers can feel confident in their return. You can read more 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.