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Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

As we navigate through the COVID-19 public health emergency, I will continue to provide updates and resources as they become available.* Because of the pace that things can change, please continue to check my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages for real-time updates. 

As you know, Governor Evers has extended the Safer at Home order until May 26. However, the extension comes with some changes that allow for non-essential businesses to provide more services as "Minimum Basic Operations," including curbside pickup. Find more specifics, here.

The governor's recently announced Badger Bounce Back plan seeks to decrease COVID-19 cases and deaths to a low level and increase capacity in our health care system so that a phased reopening of businesses is possible. If you own a business, click here for best-practices when developing a COVID-19 response plan. 

More resources can be found below in the 'Resources Round-up' section. I'll also provide information on how to avoid scams during this pandemic. For information about COVID-19 testing, see my previous newsletter on this topic, here

As always, please don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions.


Sincerely, 

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LaTonya Johnson
State Senator


*This information is up-to-date as of 11 a.m. May 4. Please note that this situation is always changing, so please utilize the resources provided below and check them periodically for the most current information. I will also post updates on my Facebook and Twitter accounts. 

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Seek Emergency Care if Needed

Wisconsin hospitals encourage patients to use the emergency department or urgent care if it is needed. Patients should never hesitate to seek emergency care if they are experiencing symptoms. Our state’s hospitals and clinics are taking all necessary precautions to care for patients and their families.

 

Click here for more information.

 

Stay Aware of Potential Scams

 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to stay safe and to protect yourself from potential scammers offering fake COVID-19 insurance products or attempting to steal personal information.

The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance recently offered the following quick tips for protecting yourself from scams:

  • 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.

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Resources Round-Up

 

I know this is a scary time for many people. Worries about our health and the safety of our loved ones, the ability to pay bills, and taking care of children or parents and grandparents are very real concerns that are being experienced in our community right now. Finding resources and support can be difficult. Please do not hesitate to reach out to my office if you have questions or need help. You can also call 2-1-1 or visit their website, here, for information and assistance, as there are many local organizations that are stepping up to help our neighbors during this public health emergency. Below you will find additional information and resources. 

 

Support for Caregivers 
I was a caregiver for my grandparents, so I can only imagine how difficult the added challenge our current times are for families. You are not alone. Reach out for support when you need it. This recent Milwaukee News Service article provides resources available for caregivers in our community.

 

Information for Older Adults (60+)
One of the programs that continues to be available to older adults is the Wisconsin Elder Benefit Specialist program. Milwaukee County community members aged 60 and older can receive advocacy and legal assistance with a wide range of public benefit programs including Medicare and Medicaid, landlord-tenant issues, and unemployment insurance appeals. With the rapidly changing situation due to COVID-19, this advice and advocacy is more important than ever. To contact the Elder Benefit Specialist for Milwaukee County, dial: 414-278-1222. More information about the services provided can be found here. 

 

Information for Survivors of Abuse
I understand that home may not always be a safe space for some members in our community and that right now is an especially difficult time for survivors of domestic violence. I am grateful to all of the advocates around the state who are working tirelessly to offer support and make sure people are safe. Those who are looking to make a safety plan or someone to talk to can find an advocate by visiting www.endabusewi.org/get-help.

Unemployment Insurance Questions 

The most common issue that my office is hearing about right now is the need for information about unemployment benefits. The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is working hard to review, approve, and disburse the unprecedented number of claims that have been filed in recent weeks. However, backlogs continue to persist with unemployment benefits at this time. 

If you are unable to reach DWD by phone and have questions related to the status of your claim, please reach out to my office at Sen.Johnson@legis.wi.gov for assistance. We will forward your inquiry to DWD to look into your request.

When reaching out to my office, please include the following details:

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Home address
  • Brief summary of the issue you are having (for example: can't get through to the unemployment line, questions about when you will see your benefits, etc.)
  • Status of your application, including the method of which you applied (online or by phone), the date you submitted your initial claim, the current status of your claim, and any other relevant details. 

Applying online is the most-efficient way to apply for benefits and can be done, here

If you do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits, other options may be available to you, such as the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program. Click here if you are unsure which unemployment program you should apply for. 

Here are other places to find trusted resources and information:

  • Click here for Governor Evers' webpage that includes resources from across state agencies, including information about filing for unemployment benefits, resources for small businesses, information about telehealth services, and more.  

  • Click here for Congresswoman Gwen Moore's list of resources, which includes how to cover basic necessities like food, child care resources for health care workers, and more. 

  • Click here for U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin's list of resources, which includes information about direct cash payments approved by the federal government (CARES Act), resources for small businesses, resources for veterans, and more. 

Click here for Milwaukee County's COVID-19 webpage.

Click here for the City of Milwaukee's COVID-19 website.

I hope you find the above resources helpful. However, please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any additional questions at Sen.Johnson@legis.wi.gov.  

 

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Want to help spread the message to #StayHome?

Take the pledge on the StayHomeMKE webpage. Once you take the pledge, you can share it on your social channels. Tag friends and family and invite them to take the pledge too.

 

A quick note about the Community Connections newsletter:

State law says that legislators who are up for re-election are prohibited from distributing more than 49 pieces of substantially identical materials during election cycles. This rule went into effect on April 15.

Recent legislation waives this rule for communications pertaining to the current public health emergency. Therefore I will be unable to distribute any non-COVID-19 related news for the time being. Follow me on social media for updates on state and community news!

 

 

Useful Phone Numbers

There are many levels of state and local government that can help answer questions and get you connected with resources you may need. I have listed some useful phone numbers below. You can also see a comprehensive list of numbers by clicking the link below. If you see a change needed or an important number that should be added, please let me know! 

Congresswoman Gwen Moore.............................414-297-1140
Governor Evers.....................................................608-266-1212
Milwaukee Common Council...............................414-286-2221
Milwaukee County Board....................................414-278-4222
Milwaukee Police Department.............................414-933-4444
Poison Control......................................................800-222-1222
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program..............800-815-0015

Medigap Helpline.................................................800-242-1060
Consumer Protection Hotline..............................800-422-7128
Department of Health Services............................608-266-1865
Workforce Development......................................608-266-3131
Public Service Commission..................................800-225-7729
SeniorCare Wisconsin.........................................800-657-2038
WI Commissioner of Insurance Complaints.......800-236-8517


For other useful phone numbers, click here!