COVID-19 Community Update #3                                          April 03, 2020

Friends and Neighbors, 

As we continue to navigate this new “normal” under the Safer at Home Emergency Order, I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe while getting the resources that you need to keep your heads above water. 

Although our weather is beginning to become more inviting, I urge you all to continue to maintain social distancing guidelines (check out the Department of Natural Resources page for how to get outside while still practicing social distancing and proper health and safety measures). The better that we practice these precautions and consciously monitor our actions, the more people we will be able to protect from this persistent and deadly virus. In addition, by maintaining these social guidelines we will protect those who are working on the frontlines of this global pandemic. Our dedicated health professionals and first responders are working around the clock to protect and serve our community, and we cannot thank them enough for their willingness to risk their own health and well-being to serve everyone in our community.

With the ever-changing nature of this global pandemic, I am committed to continuing to provide vital resources and information to everyone in our community. During this time of uncertainty, it is so crucial that we come together and take care of one another. While this unprecedented pandemic has completely changed our daily lives, I am confident that with strong leadership and communication, our community will come out stronger than ever.

Stay safe & healthy!

In Service,

Melissa Sargent
State Representative
48th Assembly District



Unemployment Update

Our state has seen an unprecedented number of Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims filed in recent weeks (the latest daily claim filing numbers can be found here). While our state and the hardworking folks at the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) are working diligently to respond to all calls and inquiries, the high volume of calls is historic. Currently, staff are working overtime and the DWD is working to bring on additional staff to address the overload. 

With that in mind, if you or someone you know is in need of unemployment benefits during these difficult times, applying online remains the most efficient method available. Over 99% of the people who have applied during that time frame have been able to successfully start, complete, and file their claim for unemployment benefits. Apply here

Not sure if you qualify? With the rapidly evolving situation and legislation being worked on and passed both at the federal and state level, DWD encourages you to still apply. Check out the FAQ page here for more information.

How to Help Our Community

Donate & Volunteer

The Red Cross

Right now, the Red Cross is experiencing blood drive cancellations like no other time in recent history and their inventory is at critical levels.  Their sites are taking extra precautions to make sure giving blood is safe. If healthy please consider giving blood by calling 1-800-RedCross or going to redcrossblood.org to find a blood donation location nearest you that is currently open by simply putting in your zip code.


Dane County COVID-19 Emergency and Recovery Fund

The United Way of Dane County, Boys & Girls Club of Dane County, Selfless Ambition and other area organizations recently announced they were leading a fundraising effort to support those affected by COVID-19 and invest back into our community. You can contribute (or apply for assistance) here.


Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin

In order to meet the vast food needs in our community right now, Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin is continuing their diligent efforts. They are taking the utmost precautions to protect the health and safety of program participants, volunteers, and staff, and have moved to a process where all food is pre-boxed. Over the next 6-8 weeks, Second Harvest anticipates the need to distribute 100,000 boxes of food to those facing hunger in southwestern Wisconsin-- they are calling this their “Care Box campaign.” In order to achieve this unprecedented feat, they need both funds and volunteers! You can find out more here.

Other Opportunities

If you are looking for additional ways to pitch in during the COVID-19 outbreak (including some virtual opportunities!), United Way of Dane County has set up a webpage devoted to providing information about opportunities to volunteer safely during this time of need. Opportunities include food deliveries, child care, serving meals, transporting needed supplies and much more. Check out a list of volunteer options here.
Support Local

While we are all safer at home and it is vital to continue to practice social distancing, local restaurants and grocers continue to provide essential food services to our community. Check out the following links for information on who is offering carry-out, delivery, and other services!:

Or, tip Madison service workers, even if they can’t be at work, with the Madison Virtual Tip Jar! Check it out at: https://tipyourserver.org/MSN/

Thank you to all of our local businesses owners and workers for your contributions to our community!


Thank an essential worker!

From healthcare professionals, first responders, and National Guard members, to grocery store, restaurant, food pantry workers, and more, many individuals continue to put themselves on the line for the health and wellbeing of others. Don’t forget to recognize and thank these essential workers! 


Legislative Update

Governor Evers Proposes Crucial Relief Measures

The recent federal legislation passed by Congress (the CARES Act) is crucial in providing much-needed relief to struggling Wisconsinites. However, here in the state legislature, we must also act to ease restrictions and approve vital funding to lift up the people of this great state during this time of crisis. 

In response to the demands from the people of Wisconsin, Governor Evers has released two comprehensive legislative relief packages with provisions that include repealing the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits, over $200 million in additional funding for our healthcare workers, healthcare system, and public health professionals, and $150 million in funds to expand access to child care and provide hazard pay to child care workers. This increase in funding will allow our healthcare workers, small businesses, and child care providers to have the funds they need to navigate this harsh pandemic. Governor Evers has also requested that all insurers be required to cover all COVID 19 treatment and testing without burdensome copays, while also establishing a COVID-19 reinsurance program to reduce harmful health insurance premiums.

There is not one solution to the issues surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in our state, and we need to be willing to take bold measures to provide stability to the hardworking people of Wisconsin. I am proud to stand with Governor Evers on these initiatives that will provide much needed consistency during this global crisis.


Medical Service Update in Wisconsin

Telehealth Coverage

While we continue to social distance and stay safer at home, mental health concerns have only been exacerbated. Many individuals who rely on regular health services were abruptly forced to survive without the care they truly need. This time of uncertainty can without question increase instances of anxiety, depression, or other mental health concerns associated with the inability to receive the care that they need.

This week, we took a step forward by increasing access to telehealth services in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Health has made a number of changes to account for the increased demand for mental health services. With the DHS update, Medicaid will temporarily cover all currently covered services to be provided via telehealth: https://www.forwardhealth.wi.gov/kw/pdf/2020-15.pdf


Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

PPE Buy Back Program

Across Wisconsin, the United States, and globally, we have seen massive shortages in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for our health professionals and first responders. These individuals are on the frontlines of this pandemic, and we need to make sure they have the resources they need to protect themselves and the people they serve. 

This week, the Evers administration took a big step forward in solving this crisis by increasing PPE coordination efforts with the development of a comprehensive PPE donation and buyback program. By redistributing resources, we have the opportunity to save the lives of at-risk individuals while protecting our crucial medical workforce.

If you are an organization, or know of one in our community, that may have additional personal protective equipment, please consider donating to the Wisconsin PPE Donation/Buyback Program to ensure that our health professionals have these life-saving resources. PPE items can be donated or sold here.

PPE Purchases

Governor Evers has recently taken important steps in protecting those working on the frontlines of this global pandemic by moving forward with purchasing life-saving medical equipment. The requested purchase includes 10,000 ventilators and 1 million protective masks. These are necessary resources as Wisconsin continues to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. This purchase will not only protect our skilled health professionals but also save the lives of vulnerable individuals in our community.


Healthcare Professions Licensing

We have seen the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic lead to crippling effects on healthcare systems across the country. As we look to contain this virus in our own community and state, it is crucial that we have the help of as many skilled healthcare workers as possible. Last Friday, Governor Evers released Emergency Order 16, which makes numerous changes to Wisconsin licensing laws surrounding the healthcare professions, including eliminating time limits for temporary licenses and provisions designed to enable nursing students close to graduation to be a part of the state’s COVID-19 response. I applaud Governor Evers’ work to increase our healthcare workforce during this time of uncertainty. For more information about this order, click here.


Election Update

Wisconsin National Guard Helps at the Polls

With the election scheduled for next week, Tuesday April 7th, we must do all that we can to ensure that everyone has access to exercise their right to vote. At the same time, we must also ensure that our poll workers are free from harm’s way, especially those who are at increased risk of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fortunately, our Wisconsin National Guard members have answered the call for help. With Wisconsin’s unprecedented demand for poll workers, Governor Evers’ has announced that the Wisconsin Army National Guard will assist at the polls during the upcoming election in order to address this shortage, and protect vulnerable individuals working at our polls.

In addition to this crucial measure, Governor Evers has requested (some of which would require action by the GOP-controlled Legislature who is refusing to act) the suspension of Wisconsin’s photo ID requirement, extending the deadline to submit and receive absentee ballots, suspending the requirement for absentee voters to have a witness sign their ballots, and allowing clerks to count ballots early and extend the deadline to do so to after the election. All of these initiatives will prove vital to maintaining the integrity of our democracy while also continuing our state’s dedication to social distancing.


Federal Judge Extends Absentee Voting for April 7th Election

Yesterday, U.S.  District Judge William Conley ordered that Wisconsinites be given an extra six days beyond Tuesday’s election to submit an absentee vote (the deadline is now April 13th). In addition, Judge Conley waived the requirement for absentee ballot applications to have a witness signature, citing that this requirement could put undue burdens on social distancing guidelines. Additionally, the deadline to request an absentee vote has once again been extended until Today at 5:00 pm. You can request your ballot here: https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/  

You can return your absentee ballot by mail, deliver it to your city clerk, or deliver it to your polling place on Election Day. Here are our city clerks’ web addresses and phone numbers if you wish to check with them about details of the April 7th election in your municipality:

City of Madison Clerk’s Office

Email: voting@cityofmadison.com

Main Office Telephone Line: (608) 266-4601

Address: 210 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Room 103 Madison, WI 53703

By extending the absentee voting time period and waiving witness requirements, this decision will work against disenfranchisement in our community and allow everyone to have the tools they need to cast their votes next week.


Community Resources

Food Resources

During this time of uncertainty, it is vital that we continue to ensure that those in our community have the resources necessary to provide for themselves and their families:

  • WI Nutrition & Food Assistance Programs: Fortunately, Wisconsin's nutrition and food assistance programs continue to be available, including WIC and SNAP programs. While local clinics are closed due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, business is still being conducted via phone and online. Check out the Wisconsin Department of Health Services site for more information, or to apply, and please share for those who may be looking for relief during this time.
  • NewBridge: Delivering food and "emergency kits," which include water, hygiene products, and over-the-counter medication, to older adults in Madison and Monona. Call at (608)-512-0000 for more information.
  • Goodman Community Center: Drive-thru food pantry serving pre-packaged bags (mostly non-perishable items). For times and hours visit here.
  • YMCA of Dane County: 7 food sites are currently available across Dane County. More information here 
Child Care for Essential Workers

Providing child care to the essential workforce is critical to flattening the curve of COVID-19 in Wisconsin. To meet this need, Governor Evers created the Child Care for Essential Workers Taskforce. Led by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the taskforce is working with the Early Childhood Association (WECA) and Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) to connect essential workforce families in need of child care with locally available child care resources.

DCF is excited to launch two new tools to help connect essential workforce families to local, safe child care. Healthcare workers and essential employees are now able to submit a request for care through the department’s updated Child Care Finder or proactively view up-to-date availability across the state using the department’s new child care map.

Please see the attached resources for more information regarding the Child Care for Essential Workers Taskforce and relevant information for parents. More information for providers, essential workers and families can be found on the DCF COVID-19 Child Care webpage.


Evictions and Foreclosures Update

The recent containment efforts in Wisconsin have led to unprecedented declines in employment and left many of our friends and neighbors struggling to make rent payments. Because of this, Governor Evers has taken actions to temporarily halt evictions and foreclosures in Wisconsin. Under Emergency Order #15, landlords are prohibited from serving any notice terminating a tenancy for failure to pay rent for the next 60 days.

Thank you Local Partners!

This week, Governor Tony Evers announced that Wisconsin’s testing capacity is expanding further thanks to many public-private partnerships to increase our state's laboratory testing capacity for COVID-19.

Per Governor Evers: "The Wisconsin Clinical Lab Network labs have been averaging completion of 1,500-2,000 COVID-19 tests per day. The expanded capacity from the state’s new partnership is expected to double that capacity initially and continue to expand. This new partnership now includes laboratory support from Exact Sciences, Marshfield Clinic, Promega Corporation, and UW Health. These organizations, along with the Wisconsin Clinical Lab Network, will now share knowledge, resources, and technology to bolster Wisconsin’s testing capacity."

Thanks to these vital community partners, our state will be able to further increase the testing capacity to help to identify and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our state, and ultimately to save lives.

With the testing resources scarce globally due to the pandemic, our state is lucky to have these innovative businesses right here in Wisconsin who are lending a hand to care for our state and its residents.

Thank you to all these groups, and the many others, who are contributing to make sure our state stays safe and healthy!

For More Information

Contacting My Office

Team Sargent is here to help you! Please reach out to us with general inquiries, as well as any thoughts, questions, or concerns regarding legislative matters, at 608-266-0960 or via email at rep.sargent@legis.wi.gov

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