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(608) 266-5780 | State Capitol, Room 307 West, P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708 |


La Crosse County Health Department

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Center for Disease Control and Prevention






State Capitol
Room 307 West
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708

(608) 266-5780

Toll Free:
(888) 534-0095



Friends and Neighbors,

Typically, I send an e-update every other Friday, but with the extension of communications relating to COVID-19 under the rule of 49 expiring on June 10, I want to provide you the most recent information on the COVID-19 public health emergency in a timely manner. You will receive one more communication from me next week.

Today also marks the last day of the school year, a school year marked by a drastic change in the delivery of education by teachers, staff, and parents due to the COVID-19 public health emergency. My congratulations to everyone for making it through this year, and a special congrats to those graduating without the usual pomp and circumstance. Know that I, along with your family, teachers, mentors, and community recognize the achievement you have reached in completing this milestone of your education journey. 

Further, for families who are looking for assistance this summer, the School District of La Crosse is offering free meals for children 18 and under. More information on the food site locations and schedule will be available on the District’s webpage beginning on Monday, June 8. 

Please continue reading for additional details about the COVID-19 testing event, the upcoming election, a small business grant program, the Coulee COVID-19 Compass, and updates from the Department of Workforce Development.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. I will continue posting frequent updates and helpful information on the Rep. Jill Billings Facebook page. You can also contact my office by calling (608) 266-5780 or emailing Rep.Billings@legis.wi.gov. 

Best Wishes, 

Jill Billings
State Representative 
95th Assembly District

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Free Drive-Through COVID-19 Testing Event

When: Monday, June 8, 11 am – 5 pm or until tests run out

Where: Western Technical College Parking Lot H, 419 9th Street North, La Crosse

On Monday, June 8 from 11am until 5 pm, the La Crosse County Health Department, in partnership with the City of La Crosse, Western Technical College, and the Wisconsin National Guard, will host a community testing site with drive-through and walk-up options. Anyone age 5 years and older who is currently experiencing any of these symptoms: fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficult breathing, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, or new loss of taste or smell are eligible for nasal swab testing at no cost. Please note that even those with mild symptoms are encouraged to attend. This testing site is intended for residents of La Crosse County. If testing kits run out before the end of the event, updates will be shared to La Crosse County Health Department’s Facebook page and their COVID-19 website. Additional updates, including a traffic entry point map with directions, will also be added to La Crosse County Health Department’s Facebook page and the COVID-19 website in the next couple of days.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission To Send 2.7 Million Voters an Absentee Ballot Application

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act legislation allocated money to the states to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 during the 2020 election cycle. The Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) recently approved spending $7.2 million dollars of CARES Act funding to help local election officials and voters prepare for fall 2020 elections amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The WEC approved a proposal to send roughly 2.7 million registered voters an informational mailing about their voting options for November, including an absentee ballot request form and a return envelope. The final mailing is set to go to all registered voters in the state — except those who have already requested an absentee ballot and those who may have moved and have not confirmed their address. The WEC must approve the content of the mailing by June 10, 2020. 

The WEC also approved a $4.1 million block grant program to assist municipalities with unbudgeted expenses for the fall elections, like postage and envelopes. Local municipalities simply could not anticipate the increased costs of mailing over 1 million absentee ballots to Wisconsin voters this spring, so this assistance is necessary to ensure the remaining 2020 elections go smoothly. Additional information about the grants available to municipalities can be found on the WEC’s website

We cannot precisely know the trajectory of the COVID-19 virus in the future and it’s impact on the remaining 2020, but please remember MyVote.gov serves as a great resource for your voting needs and questions.

La Crosse County Health Department: Coulee COVID-19 Compass

The La Crosse County Health Department created the Coulee COVID-19 Compass using local data to assess the risk status of the Coulee Region and provide recommendations to people to protect themselves based on that status. The La Crosse County Health Department recognizes that we will experience waves of COVID-19 infections until a vaccination is widely available, so the compass will be updated weekly to provide citizens with the best recommendations based on the most current available local data.

Data will be tracked in three categories: (1) epidemiology (what the disease is doing), (2) healthcare capacity, and (3) public health capacity. The data changes the direction the compass points each week—red for severe risk, orange for high risk, yellow for moderate risk, and green for low risk. Each risk category includes the appropriate actions to best protect yourself, your neighbors, and your community.  You can view the Coulee COVID-19 Compass and more information here

Last updated June 2, 2020:


Further, for a statewide analysis, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) continues to update the Badger Bounce Back data. 

UPDATE: WEDC’s “We’re All In” Grant Application for Small Businesses

Governor Evers and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) secretary-designee Hughes recently announced the We’re All In Initiative. The We’re All In Initiative is a $75 million rapid grant program for small businesses. As small businesses across Wisconsin continue 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. Businesses can begin applying for grant assistance in early June. The online grant application will be accessible for one week from 8 a.m. Monday, June 15, through 11:59 p.m. Sunday, June 21. A link to the application will be posted on this page. I encourage interested business owners to view the application page prior to June 15 to review the documentation you’ll need to apply.

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UPDATE: Unemployment Insurance (UI) Benefits 


Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has been improving internal systems and adding additional staff to address the rapid increase of unemployment insurance (UI) claims. Since the beginning of the public health emergency, there have  been 129 internal DWD transfers, 69 interagency transfers, and 162 new hires dedicated to the UI mission. For comparison, prior to COVID-19 pandemic the UI call center consisted of 57 employees.

The DWD recognized that those actions alone would not be enough to process the massive influx of UI claims; therefore, the DWD has also contracted two call centers that when fully staffed will have nearly 550 employees. A third vendor is being contracted to employ over 200 people to assist with the processing and adjudication of UI claims. Further, the DWD is recruiting to hire over 315 positions.

The DWD has also taken initiative to expand call hours to 7am-5pm. At 5:00 p.m., call center staff stop accepting new calls, but answer all calls remaining in the queue. The DWD cannot answer calls 24/7 because the same internal system is used to process the payment of benefits, and those payments can only be processed and paid once all the calls have been completed. 

Also, an update on unemployment benefits claims processed is available here. For your information as of June 2, 2020 the DWD had received 2,655,408 weekly UI claims. Of the over 2.6 million claims, 1,911,516 had been paid—72%. Sixteen percent of the total weekly claims are still being processed (E.g. awaiting wage verification or adjudication) and 11% of the weekly claims have been denied.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

My office also recently received an update on the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. Since the program opened on April 21, 92,000 PUA applications have been submitted—30,000 of those being submitted on the first day. The DWD started processing applications on April 21 and began finalizing eligibility determinations and making payments to some applicants on May 21. The Department is processing applications in the order of which they were received and are currently working on the 30,000 applications received on April 21. 

The DWD explained that processing PUA applications is very labor-intensive due to an antiquated computer system and the many different ways in which people can qualify for PUA. This means that each application must be reviewed manually by a DWD staff to determine eligibility. The DWD continues to hire and train additional staff to assist with the processing of PUA applications. 

My Office is Assisting with UI & PUA Questions
During this time, my staff has been assisting constituents who have had difficulty submitting a claim, had questions on a claim, or who have been anxiously awaiting a claim to be processed. If you have questions, or need assistance you can always contact my office.