COVID-19 Community Update #6                                       April 28, 2020

Friends and Neighbors, 

While Wisconsin is doing a strong job at staying home, practicing social distancing, and limiting the spread of COVID-19, we still have work to do. As of today, Wisconsin has 6,081 positive cases of COVID-19, and has lost 281 lives. (You can keep updated with the statewide data at the Department of Health Services website here). 

While Wisconsin has been successful in working to reduce and contain the spread of this deadly virus, we as a state also continue to see concerning outbreaks such as the 189 positive cases at a meatpacking plant in Green Bay this week, or the disparate impacts COVID-19 is having in communities of color in Milwaukee. These instances of workplace and community spread continue to demonstrate the utmost importance of using a strategic and safe approach to the reopening of our state. 

That is why Governor Tony Evers introduced the Badger Bounce Back Plan last week, a science-driven approach to safely reopening Wisconsin and getting our state’s economy back in business. This plan implements different phases for Wisconsin, which our state will move into after meeting certain necessary criteria, in order to safely re-open while also preventing a resurgence of COVID-19.

With Wisconsin’s COVID-19 testing at a daily capacity of 10,922, thanks to the 49 public & private partners across the state who are using their laboratories and capabilities, our state is close to its testing goal of 12,000 tests per day. Further, thanks to the Safer at Home Order and a flattening of the curve, we continue to see our hospital capabilities remain strong. While these goals are important to reach before Wisconsin can move into the next phase (Phase 1 of the Badger Bounce Back Plan would allow gatherings of up to 10 people, remove certain restrictions on restaurants, retailers, and non-essential businesses, and more), we still have many goals to meet before we can move ahead, including a 14-day downward trajectory of positive cases, which we have yet to see in our state. 

Governor Evers’ plan will take time-- there is no question that the goals he set are stringent and tough to meet. Ultimately, this plan will allow for Wisconsin to get back to business for good, and above all, will save lives. You can read more about this plan and other COVID-19 updates below!

I sincerely hope you are each staying safe and well during these difficult times. As we enter into a new month of Safer at Home, please know that you are not in this alone. Whether it be searching for community resources, help with an unemployment claim, or seeking mental health assistance, my office is here to assist you in any way that we can. Please do not hesitate to email us at Rep.Sargent@legis.wisconsin.gov and we will work to best assist you. 

In Service,

Melissa Sargent
State Representative
48th Assembly District



The Badger Bounce Back Plan

Last week Governor Tony Evers announced his Badger Bounce Back Plan (see COVID-19 Community Update #5 for more specifics), which provides a framework for lifting business and social restrictions and starting to reopen the economy in our state. The emergency order can be found here.

Key metrics that must be met in order to move from the Safer at Home Order into Phase 1 include a 14-day downward trajectory of illnesses, healthcare system capacity to treat patients beyond crisis care, testing availability for all who are symptomatic, increased contact tracing efforts, and sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other needed supplies.

Restrictions will be lifted in three phases, with guidance on each phase shown on pages 5-6 of the plan. Determining when to move on to the next phase will be based on an evaluation of gating criteria by the Department of Health Services (DHS). The full plan is available here, with the plan in brief available here.


Emergency Order #34

On April 27th, Governor Evers announced a new “turn the dial” Order that expands allowable operations for nonessential businesses. Under Emergency Order #34, coupled with the Governor’s Safer at Home Order, every business can do things like deliveries, mailings, curb-side pick-up, and, effective at 8:00 a.m. on April 29th, curb-side drop-off as well. 

The “turn the dial” order also prescribes how to perform these operations safely. The order allows businesses like dog groomers, small engine repair shops, upholstery businesses, and others to safely open. It also allows outdoor recreational rentals, such as boats, golf carts, kayaks, ATVs, and other similar recreational vehicles. Additionally, automatic or self-service car washes will be able to operate. 

If you have questions regarding Emergency Order #34, please review the frequently asked questions document available here. All essential and nonessential businesses must continue to follow social distancing and safety practices required under the Safer at Home Order, which is available here. A document summarizing these safe business practices by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is available here. Businesses can visit WEDC.org for additional resources on taking the necessary steps to keep workers, businesses, and customers safe. 


 Resources for Businesses

Special thanks!

Thank you to the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce for summarizing & disseminating the following information for our Madison business community:


Guidance on non-essential businesses under the extended Safer at Home Order

Under Governor Tony Evers’ extended Safer at Home Order, non-essential businesses will now be able to provide more services as “Minimum Basic Operations”, including curbside pickup. Non-essential businesses must notify workers of whether they are necessary for Minimum Basic Operations.

Specific requirements for curbside pickup are at the bottom of page 18 and top of page 19 of the order. They include having operations performed by only one person in a room or confined space at a time, goods being purchased online or by phone prior to pickup, and not requiring a signature from the customer.

If you believe your business is essential and has not been included in the order, you may request a designation as essential by submitting this form (Note: If you have trouble loading the form, you may need to exempt WEDC's website in your pop-up blocker).


Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce COVID-19 Recovery Agenda

Last week, the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce released its Recovery Agenda focused on reopening the economy and accelerating the recovery from the COVID-19 outbreak. The agenda offers strategies at the federal, state, and local levels to provide immediate relief to businesses and workers, provide targeted assistance to industries that are uniquely affected, and temporarily ease regulations to reopen our economy and accelerate our recovery.

You can view the full Recovery Agenda here.


Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) 

Enacted as part of the CARES Act, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is a loan program designed to incentivize small businesses to keep their workers on payroll. The SBA will forgive loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities (at least 75 percent of the forgiven amount must have been used for payroll).

To be eligible for the PPP, you must be a small business as defined by the SBA (typically fewer than 500 employees, but varies by business sector), a 501 (c)(3) non-profit with fewer than 500 employees, or be a sole proprietor, self-employed or an independent contractor.

Employers are able to apply through current 7(a) lenders, and additional lenders will be approved for participation. For a current list of all Wisconsin SBA lenders and their contact information, click here. Additional SBA information about the PPP can be found here.

While funding for this program was in high demand and initially ran out, last week Congress passed the $484 billion Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and Health Care Enhancement Act, which provide emergency funding to bolster the program. Some highlights include:

  • $310 billion for the depleted Paycheck Protection Program, with $60 billion set aside for underbanked businesses. Funding for underbanked businesses includes:
    • $30 billion for Community Financial Institutions, Small Insured Depository Institutions and Credit Unions with less than $10 billion in assets; and
    • $30 billion for Insured Depository Institutions and Credit Unions who have between $10 and $50 billion in assets.
  • $60 billion for the SBA's depleted Economic Injury Disaster Loan program, with $10 billion going toward cash grants
  • $75 billion for hospitals
  • $25 billion for COVID-19 testing, with $11 billion going to states

With this additional funding, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) resumed accepting applications for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). 


Business Reopening Toolkit

Under the extended Safer at Home Order, non-essential businesses are now able to perform curbside pickup, delivery and mail under certain circumstances. Public Health Madison & Dane County has created a toolkit to assist non-essential businesses that decide to reopen performing curbside pickup or delivery.

Check out the full toolkit here.


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.

As such, applying online remains the most streamlined and effective option, and can be done here. Additionally, DWD’s website hosts a robust FAQs page here, and has many other informative resources including the following:


What to do if you still need help

If you or someone you know is still 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.

Please also keep in mind, you can always check the status of your claim online at https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/. Just click on "Your Claim Information"


Additional Resources

Working from Home Successfully

Due to COVID-19 and social distancing, many of us are working from home and doing our best to overcome some of the many challenges that working from home brings. 

As traditional work-life boundaries blur even further, many remote workers wonder whether they're working from home or living at work. To help you cope with these and many other challenges, check out some of the following working from home tips & best practices:


Stay Home. Love Madison.

Despite these uncertain and difficult times, we can still do our part to support our vibrant community and all it has to offer. Fortunately, Destination Madison has curated ways for us at home to love, enjoy, and support Madison and local businesses from afar. From virtual entertainment to local shopping that can be done online, check out Destination Madison’s Stay Home. Love Madison. campaign here.


Get outside!

With summer just around the corner and a warm weekend ahead, I know that we are all antsy to get outside and enjoy our beautiful weather and Wisconsin landscapes. Thankfully, we will soon be able to once again utilize Wisconsin’s historic state parks, forests, and recreational areas.

Just today, Governor Evers directed the Department of Natural Resources to re-open several state parks, forests, and recreational areas originally closed due to a lack of social distancing and public health concerns. In total, 34 previously closed state parks and forests will open this Friday (with special conditions to help minimize overcrowding), including parks in our own backyard like Governor Nelson State Park, Blue Mounds State Park, and Capitol Springs State Recreational area.

Beginning on May 1st, visitors will be required to have an annual park sticker or trail pass to visit all of the newly reopened state parks and trails. To maintain social distancing guidelines and limit direct human contact, counter service, drive up windows, and self-serve kiosks will remain closed. However, you can still purchase your annual admission sticker over the phone at 1-888-305-0398.

Slowly but surely, we are taking small steps in returning to our normal lives. While this is going to be a slow process, I am excited to see our community once again gain access to these beautiful and relaxing natural areas.

Check here to see what other parks will be opening this Friday, and please remember to practice safe social distancing and to respect others and our shared spaces!


“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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