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COVID-19 E-Update #10

May 7, 2020

Dear Neighbors, 

Thank you, once again, for taking the time to join me for these weekly COVID-19 updates. This week, I want to begin with an enormous Thank you! to our teachers and nurses. This week is always a favorite of mine, as May 5th is Teacher Appreciation Day and May 6th marks the beginning of National Nurses Week. 

This year, more than any other, I am truly, deeply feeling appreciation for our nurses and our educators in Racine and across Wisconsin. I can’t imagine most of you imagined the current situation when you began your careers, but you are doing incredible work during this crisis with very little resources. I will continue to fight for you and the resources you need at the state level as we work to address and combat COVID-19.

In this update, I’ll be sharing information on two major developments as our state addresses COVID-19. The first is Governor Tony Evers’ comprehensive plan to make Wisconsin one of the top states for COVID-19 testing per capita, one of the Badger Bounce Back Plan’s major elements. The second is the ongoing case in the Wisconsin Supreme Court against the Safer at Home order extension, a lawsuit launched by Speaker Robin Vos and Legislative Republicans, which seeks to remove the Safer at Home order without a different solution in place.

I’ll be discussing both of these developments below, along with a round up of community and state resources and reminders, as we all continue to navigate this pandemic.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 cases continue to grow in Wisconsin and in our own community. Just last Thursday, I shared that 6,854 people in Wisconsin tested positive for COVID-19, and 316 people had died as a result of the virus. This has drastically increased over the last week. Today, 9,215 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in our state, and 374 have passed away.

It continues to be critically important that we practice social distancing and stay home when we can. We must continue to cover our coughs and sneezes and wash our hands frequently. The CDC also recommends that we wear masks outside of our homes to reduce the asymptomatic spread of COVID-19. (For patterns and directions on how to make your own face masks at home, click HERE).

Last week, I took the “Stay Safe Racine” Pledge, along with other local leaders and many of your neighbors. Just as I have for the past two months, I’ll be working to flatten the curve in our community. After all, the sooner we can reduce the number of COVID-19 cases, the sooner we can begin turning the dial more to open the state. 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,

 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.  
Expanding COVID-19 Testing in WI

This week, Governor Tony Evers rolled out a comprehensive plan to expand access to COVID-19 tests in Wisconsin. Expanded testing is one of the Badger Bounce Back Plan’s core elements, a necessary factor to safely reopen our economy. If we can reach this plan’s goals, we could make Wisconsin one of the top states for COVID-19 testing per capita. 

The State of Wisconsin has already provided more than 60,000 tests to hospitals, clinics, local public health departments, long-term care facilities and others. According to Governor Evers, our state is prepared to provide 85,000 tests per week. This is an amazing achievement in public/private partnership, as Wisconsin has taken its ability to perform COVID-19 testing from zero in early March to more than 11,000 tests per day today.

To identify new cases of COVID-19, trace their contacts, limit the virus’ spread, and save lives, the Evers Administration laid out four major testing goals. Under this plan, we are prepared to meet each one. 

  1. Respond to every employer, corrections, and congregate care outbreak by working with the Wisconsin National Guard and local health partners to conduct testing of all workers and families associated with employer outbreaks happening throughout our state and deploying rapid response teams to address employer and congregate care outbreaks.
  2. Provide free testing and diagnostics to all of Wisconsin’s 373 nursing homes to test all nursing home residents and staff, with the goal of testing more than 10,000 residents and staff per week during the month of May. 
  3. Establish community testing programs for symptomatic individuals in target communities by increasing the number of free drive thru community tests sites throughout the state. Tests at these sites will be free for anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, with results going to patients and local public health.Wisconsin will mobilize 15 additional National Guard units to assist local public health in setting up testing sites and responding to outbreaks, bringing the total number of units to 25.
  4. Ensure everyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and clinically indicated asymptomatic individuals receive a test by providing test supplies available to all WI healthcare systems through https://covid19supplies.wi.gov/Testing. To date, the state has provided 41,255 tests to healthcare system partners.

To find the closest local free community testing center for COVID-19 under this program, along with its hours of operation, click HERE.


Ramping Up Contact Tracing

After health officials identify a positive case of COVID-19, contact tracing is the critical next step in slowing the spread of COVID-19 and getting treatment to people who have been infected.

Contact tracing allows public health to track the spread of COVID-19 and break the chain of disease spread. It’s done by contacting those who have tested positive, learning who they’ve had recent contact with and then contacting those individuals to provide guidance on testing and isolation. 

Under the Badger Bounce Back plan, the goal is to interview positive cases within 24 hours of diagnosis, and contacts within another 24 hours. Staying home when a person tests positive or is exposed to someone who is infected with COVID-19 is critical to slowing the spread of the Coronavirus, and contact tracers are the people who connect the dots and let people know they have been exposed.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has already trained an additional 401 contact tracers over the last two months, but the program is scaling up to match Wisconsin’s expanded COVID-19 testing. Over the last week, DHS received over 1,000 applications just days after new contact tracing job openings were announced. DHS is coordinating the amount of tracers with the number of projected tests and positive cases with the goal of having 1,000 statewide tracers.

In addition to increasing our testing capacity and our contact tracing team, Wisconsin has many other goals that we must meet to safely reopen and return to a more normal day-to-day routine. Fortunately, people across Wisconsin have been hard at work on the front lines to meet these goals, and over the past few weeks of Safer at Home, we are making significant progress forward. For more information on what criteria we have met and what goals remain, visit the DHS website HERE.

Legal Challenges to the Safer at Home Order

The Safer at Home Order is an essential first step to slow the COVID-19 pandemic, flatten the curve, and safe lives in Wisconsin. While this is a difficult choice to make in the short term, we know from looking at other states and countries, as well as the scientific evidence, that this is the best way to protect our community’s long-term wellbeing. 

Unfortunately, Speaker Robin Vos and his Legislative Republican colleagues have decided to place partisan fighting above public health and filed a legal challenge to Governor Evers’ Safer at Home Order and the public health emergency last week. Without offering a comprehensive plan to combat COVID-19, Legislative Republicans asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to remove the extended Safer at Home Order. 

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin Supreme Court took up this suit, hearing the case in online, video conference oral arguments. We anticipate a decision will be handed down by the Court this week. You can read Attorney General Kaul’s statement on the safer at home litigation here.

While the anti-Safer at Home protesters a few weeks ago garnered a lot of attention, they are far outnumbered by the people who support Safer at Home in our state. We know this from the polls, from the letters, from the dozens of organizations that represent more than one million Wisconsinites who have voiced their support for Wisconsin’s Safer at Home order.

From healthcare organizations and local health departments to community organizations and leaders, people across our state have seen the detrimental impacts of this disease and they support staying safer at home until we can safely return to our day-to-day lives. We know that this is necessary, that to get through this crisis, we must support each other by staying apart.

While getting Wisconsin back to business is vital, we must also prioritize human life and ensure that we have a plan that truly follows science and public health guidelines. I remain hopeful that our elected Justices in the Wisconsin Supreme Court can put aside partisanship and do what is right for the people of our state. The lives of our friends, our neighbors, and our family members depend on it. 

Agency Updates & Community Resources

Renter Protection

On April 29th, the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced a new emergency rule prohibiting landlords from charging late fees or penalties for missed or late rent payments during the public health emergency and for 90 days afterward. You can read more here.

Temporary Benefits for Children Missing School Meals (P-EBT)

On April 29th, DHS announced that it will provide over $140 million in additional food benefits to families whose kids would otherwise receive free or reduced price meals through the National School Lunch program during the school year. Because these students are staying Safer at Home through the end of the school year, DHS will provide funding to cover the days school would usually be in session from March through part of June to ensure those students continue to have access to nutritious meals. 

The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (or P-EBT) program will provide benefits for families to use to purchase food at grocery stores or farmer’s markets. DHS will reach out to families eligible for the program through direct messaging and mailed letters to share how to access these funds. If families are already part of benefit programs with the state, the funds will be placed on their QUEST cards or a dedicated P-EBT card. Families not currently participating in eligible state benefit programs will need to apply separately. 

Learn more about FoodShare and temporary P-EBT food benefits here.

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.

Having Trouble Receiving 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. 

*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.

Reminder: Pandemic Unemployment Coverage for Self-Employed Workers and 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

The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) has also begun in Wisconsin. According to information shared by a DWD representative today, these additional $600 per week payments should begin to be deposited this week, with retroactive payments dating to  April 4, 2020 arriving in coming weeks. For more information, visit the FAQ page HERE.

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.

34 State Parks Open to the Public

utdoor activities are an essential activity under Safer at Home. On Friday, May 1, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reopened 34 state parks and forests under special conditions to protect visitors and staff during COVID-19. 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.

An annual state park or trail pass may now be purchased via phone 8am - 4pm daily at 1-888-305-0398. Annual state park or trail passes are required for entry to state parks and forests. For additional details on the reopening of state parks, visit the DNR website HERE.

Fishing Licenses Now Available Online

Outdoor activities are an essential under Safer at Home, and fishing licenses are now available online from the DNR. Please remember to fish close to home and practice social distancing whether fishing from a boat, dock, or shoreline. It is recommended that only anglers living in the same household should fish within six feet of one another. 

Fishing licenses are available online through the DNR's Go Wild system or at limited essential businesses throughout Wisconsin. Please visit the DNR’s fishing license web page for more information and find open vendors within our community.

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.

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.