COVID-19 Community Update #5                                        April 20, 2020

Friends and Neighbors, 

As many of you know, last week Governor Tony Evers and Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary Andrea Palm extended Wisconsin’s Safer at Home Order until May 26th.

According to the model created by DHS, without the necessary preventative measures in place Wisconsin was projected to have between 440 and 1,500 deaths from COVID-19 by April 8th. Fortunately, since the Safer at Home Order was instituted on March 24th, there has been a significant decrease in this exponential growth of cases, and these measures have saved hundreds of lives. To date, Wisconsin has 4,346 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 220 deaths (you can see the most up to date data here).

While the Safer at Home Order has been largely successful and we have seen life-saving results, we must continue to maintain these efforts to continue this progress until it is safe to return to our day-to-day activities. Under the extended Safer at Home Order, issued on April 16th and that will go into effect on April 24th, Wisconsinites must continue to stay at home except for essential needs, and all private and public schools are to remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. 

However, this order also works to allow certain activities to start up again, in socially distant and contained ways, to allow for our Wisconsin business community to be on the road to recovery. Governor Evers has also introduced the Badger Bounce Back Plan, to phase-in the reopening of businesses by safely turning the dial to get our state moving again. This plan is phased in by using proper science to inform each step, in order to safely re-open while also preventing a resurgence of COVID-19 (more information can be found below). 

Extending the Safer at Home Order is vital to help continue the progress our state has made in limiting the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, and ultimately to saving lives. Governor Tony Evers, Secretary Andrea Palm, the Department of Health Services, local health departments across our state, and so many other health professionals and experts are working diligently to ensure Wisconsin is doing all it can to contain COVID-19 and to save lives. Together, our efforts can stop this deadly virus and return our lives back to normal. 

Please see more information below about the extended Safer at Home Order and other efforts and resources pertaining to the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

In Service,

Melissa Sargent
State Representative
48th Assembly District



Executive Order #28

Last week Governor Tony Evers and DHS issued a new Safer at Home Order, Executive Order #28, that begins on April 24th. This order extends Safer at Home until May 26th and includes the following new measures:


Businesses and activities that may increase services and operations:

  • Public libraries: Libraries may provide curb-side pick-up of books and other library materials.
  • Golf courses: Golf courses may open, with restrictions including scheduling and paying for tee times online or by phone only. Clubhouses and pro shops must remain closed.
  • Non-essential businesses: Non-essential businesses can do more things as minimum basic operations (as defined in EO #28), including deliveries, mailings, and curb-side pick-up. Non-essential businesses must notify workers of whether they are necessary for the minimum basic operations.
  • Arts and craft stores: Arts and craft stores may offer expanded curb-side pick-up of materials necessary to make face masks or other personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Aesthetic or optional exterior work: Aesthetic or optional exterior lawn care or construction is allowed, so long as it can be done by one person.

Safe business practices:

  • Safe business practices for essential businesses and operations: Essential businesses and operations (as defined in EO #28) must increase cleaning and disinfection practices, ensure that only necessary works are present, and adopt policies to prevent workers exposed to COVID-19 or symptomatic workers from coming to work.
  • Safe business practices for retailers that are essential businesses and operations: Retail stores that remain open to the public as essential businesses and operations must limit the number of people in the store at one time, must provide proper spacing for people waiting to enter, and large stores must offer at least two hours per week of dedicated shopping time for vulnerable populations.
  • Supply chain: essential businesses and operations that are essential because they supply, manufacture, or distribute goods and services to other essential businesses and operations can only continue operations that are necessary to those businesses they supply. All other operations must continue as minimum basic operations.

Retail store operations:

  • All retail stores that remain open as essential businesses and operations must install markings for where customers line up to enable the customers to stay six feet apart and use alternatives to lines, such as drive-up loading and scheduled curb-side pick-ups.
  • Stores with less than 50,000 square feet of customer floor space must limit the number of people in the store, including employees, to 25% of their total occupancy limits.
  • Stores with more than 50,000 square feet of customer floor space must limit the number of customers (excluding employees) to 4 people per 1,000 square feet. These stores must also offer at least two hours per week of shopping time for vulnerable populations.
  • Retail stores must  provide at least two hours of shopping per week for vulnerable populations.

Other important changes:

  • Schools: Public and private K-12 schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Local parks and open spaces: Local health officials may close public parks and open spaces if it becomes too difficult to ensure social distancing or the areas are being mistreated.
  • Travel: People are strongly encouraged to stay close to home, not travel to second homes or cabins, and not travel out of state if it is not necessary.
  • Tribal Nations: Tribal Nations are sovereign over their territory and can impose their own restrictions. Non-tribal members should be respectful of and avoid nonessential travel to Tribal territory. Local government must coordinate, collaborate, and share information with Tribal Nations.
  • Duration: The changes in this order go into effect on April 24. The order will remain in effect until 8:00 a.m. on May 26, 2020.

The Badger Bounce Back Plan

With the current Safer at Home Order and public health emergency there is no question about the effects this is having on workers and businesses across our state. While we all want to reopen our economy and return to normal as soon as possible, we’re not in the clear just yet—we still have a lot of work to do to ensure we can reopen safely. At the same time, it is vital that we work to have a plan in place to support our state’s economy and get Wisconsin back in business. 

Just today, Governor Tony Evers announced the Badger Bounce Back Plan, to phase-in the reopening of businesses by safely turning the dial to get our state moving again. This plan is phased-in by using proper science to inform each step, in order to safely re-open while also preventing a resurgence of COVID-19.

The Badger Bounce Back is based on the federal guidelines for Opening Up America Again— the truth is, even President Trump’s guidelines show that Wisconsin isn’t ready to lift our Safer at Home Order just yet. However, Governor Evers’ plan works to get Wisconsin where we need to be in order to meet these guidelines and get our state back to work. 

Governor Evers’ plan outlines phases and important criteria (see below) for us to be able to reopen our economy, including steps to ensure our workers and our businesses are prepared to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.



In order to move beyond the “safer at home” phase, Wisconsin needs to meet some important criteria. The state must show progress or advancement in the following areas: 

  1. Symptoms: We need to see a downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses reported within a 14-day period AND a downward trajectory of COVID-19 cases symptoms reported within a 14-day period. 
  2. Cases: We need to see a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period.
  3. Hospitals: We need to be able to treat all patients without crisis care AND have robust testing programs in place for at-risk healthcare workers, with decreasing numbers of infected healthcare workers.
  4. Testing, tracking, & tracing: We need to increase lab capacity and testing, increase contact tracing—including support for isolation and quarantine—so we can track the spread of COVID-19, increase our healthcare capacity, and procure more personal protective equipment.
  5. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Procure PPE and other necessary supplies to support health care and public safety agencies.
  6. Health Care Capacity: Assess the need for and readiness to support surge capacity for our healthcare system.


Under the Badger Bounce Back Plan, DHS shall assess the most up-to-date data to determine when it is appropriate to progress to the next Phase. To move to the next Phase, the state must make progress toward the goals identified (such as the criteria above). 

Wisconsin shall adopt a phased approach to re-opening its economy and society, with each phase being incrementally less restrictive on businesses and individuals while protecting the public from COVID-19. DHS shall announce the transition to each Phase with an order fully articulating the activities that will resume. The Phases include:

  • Safer at Home: Currently in effect, as established m Emergency Orders # 12 and #28.
  • Phase One: Phase One will include allowing mass gatherings of up to 10 people; restaurants opening with social distancing requirements; removal of certain restrictions including retail restrictions for Essential Businesses and Operations; additional operations for non-essential businesses; K-12 schools to resume inperson operation; and child care settings resuming full operation.
  • Phase Two: Phase Two will include allowing mass gatherings of up to 50 people; restaurants resuming full operation; bars reopening with social distancing requirements; non-essential businesses resuming operations with social distancing requirements; and postsecondary education institutions may resume operation. 
  • Phase Three: Phase Three will resume all business activity and gatherings, with minimal protective and preventative measures in place for the general public and more protective measures for vulnerable populations. 

Other Important Updates

Unemployment Insurance

With hundreds of thousands of individuals losing crucial sources of income during the COVID-19 public health emergency, our state has seen an unprecedented number of unemployment claims. The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is working around the clock to review, approve, and disburse claims for the many hardworking Wisconsinites who need assistance during this difficult time. 

Despite all efforts, backlogs continue to persist with unemployment benefits at this time. If you or someone you know is facing an issue with your claim, or is unable to get through to DWD via phone or online, please do not hesitate to reach out and my office will do our best to help facilitate further assistance. Email Rep.Sargent@legis.wisconsin.gov with the following information:

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Issue you want to be resolved (i.e. When will I receive my benefits?)
  • Status of your application
    • Did you apply online?
    • What date did you submit it?
    • Are you awaiting a decision on something that had to be investigated?

My staff will then send this information on to DWD 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 benefits in a timely manner.

Applying online remains the most streamlined and effective option, and can be done here. For more information visit DWD’s FAQs page here


Veterans Assistance

During these difficult times it is crucial that veterans have access to necessary resources, and that the Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) is able to provide aid to those in need. That is why Governor Tony Evers issued Emergency Order #23, to suspend several provisions of the Assistance to Needy Veterans Grant (ANVG) program. With these changes, more low-income veterans will be able to access critical emergency financial aid.

For more information on veteran services during this time please visit DVA’s COVID-19 homepage here.


Midwest Partnership to to Reopen Regional Economy

Last week Governor Evers announced a partnership with our Midwest neighbors to create a coalition to get the midwestern economy back to business. This group of bipartisan Governors, including Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Kentucky, Ohio, and Wisconsin, will coordinate efforts across state boundaries with public health, business, and education professionals in order to lift up our regional economy in the wake of this global pandemic. Together, we can safely reopen our economy so hardworking people can get back to work and businesses can get back on their feet, while also adhering to science and public health needs. You can read more about this partnership here.


Community Resources

Support Hotline

The COVID-19 public health emergency has had deep impacts on our lives and wellbeing. Whether it's putting food on the table, accessing broadband, or finding mental health counseling, help is available. Text COVID19 to 211-211, visit www.211wisconsin.org/coronavirus, or call 2-1-1 to speak with a specialist now!


Health Insurance Coverage

If you have lost your health insurance during COVID-19 and want to know your options, free help is available online and by phone thanks to the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OIC). Learn more here.


Resilient Wisconsin 

The COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily changed the way we work and live, go to school, and spend time together. Limiting close contact with each other protects everyone’s health, including those who are most vulnerable, but knowing that change is important doesn’t make it easy. As we all adapt to recent events, it’s natural to feel stress and anxiety during these difficult times. 

That’s why learning how to cope with these feelings in healthy ways is essential. You can find practical tools and sources of support that can help you strengthen your resilience during times of stress, so you can take care of yourself and those around you during COVID-19 and beyond, at DHS’s Resilient Wisconsin page here.

How to Help

Wisconsin Emergency Assistance Volunteer Registry (WEAVR)

Last week Governor Evers and DHS announced the Wisconsin Emergency Assistance Volunteer Registry (WEAVR). WEAVR creates a widespread network of experienced volunteers to help increase capacity and care here in Wisconsin. Volunteers interested in filling critical response and recovery roles during this public health emergency may self-register here. Based on the information collected from each volunteer, public health officials identify those professionals willing to fill the specific volunteer roles needed in an emergency. Public health officials then use the WEAVR registry to generate a list of volunteers to be contacted. Those contacted will be given information on where to report and the role that is needed, as well as the option to accept or decline the opportunity. Training will be provided at the reporting site.

If you are an active or retired healthcare or behavioral health professional looking to volunteer during the current COVID-19 public health emergency, learn more and get connected at: www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/preparedness/weavr/


“50 Piece Rule”

REMINDER: Pursuant to Wisconsin State Statutes, legislators are prohibited from distributing more than 49 pieces of substantially identical materials during election cycles. Starting April 15th (tomorrow), this so-called “50 Piece Rule” will go into effect.

While AB 1038 waives this rule for communications pertaining to the current public health emergency, I will be unable to distribute any non-COVID-19 related news from now on. I will continue to post regular updates on social media (follow along on Facebook and Twitter!), keeping you in the loop on all things taking place over the next few months.


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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