COVID-19 Community Update #7                                         May 05, 2020

Friends and Neighbors, 

Yesterday, Governor Tony Evers announced his comprehensive plan for reaching the Badger Bounce Back Plan’s testing goals, which would make Wisconsin a top state for COVID-19 testing per capita and be an important step in reopening Wisconsin. 

Wisconsin has already provided over 60,000 tests to hospitals, clinics, local public health departments, long-term care facilities and others, with 57 of the state’s counties having requested and received supplies. Governor Evers said the state is prepared to provide 85,000 tests per week, as Wisconsin has taken its ability to perform COVID-19 testing from zero in early March to more than 11,000 tests per day. 

The Evers Administration has laid out four vital testing goals– that they are prepared to meet– which will significantly help us to identify COVID-19 cases and continue to limit the spread, in addition to increasing healthcare intervention to help save lives: 

  • Goal 1: Addressing the workplace outbreaks taking place in our state. The Department of Health Services (DHS) & the Wisconsin National Guard are coordinating with local health departments to conduct rapid response and testing of all workers and their families in these high priority locations. This includes county and state correctional facilities.
  • Goal 2: Providing free testing and diagnostics to all Wisconsin nursing homes & long-term care facilities to test all residents and staff. The goal is to test more than 10,000 residents and staff per week during the month of May.
  • Goal 3: Increasing the number of free drive-thru community testing sites for symptomatic individuals in targeted communities. This includes mobilizing 15 more National Guard units to help local health departments set up testing sites and respond to outbreaks (that would bring the total number of National Guard units working on testing to 25). 
  • Goal 4: Ensuring that everyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms gets a test. This includes providing testing supplies to all Wisconsin healthcare systems– as of Monday, the state has provided 41,255 tests to healthcare systems.  

With Wisconsin up to 8,566 positive cases and 353 lives lost, these testing increases are vital to continuing to detect COVID-19 in our state, and limit the spread.

For more updates on the Badger Bounce Back Plan & more, read below! 

In Service,

Melissa Sargent
State Representative
48th Assembly District

94712234_2871497026302231_4469256179813449728_n.jpgDNR Map of Newly Opened Wisconsin State Parks and Natural Areas


The Badger Bounce Back Plan Progress

In addition to increasing testing capacity, there are many other goals that the state must meet for us to be able to reopen and safely return to our normal lives. Fortunately, people across Wisconsin have been hard at work on the front lines to meet these goals and we have made significant progress forward. For more information on what gating criteria has been met, and what goals remain, visit the DHS criteria here.


Safer at Home Order & Legal Challenges

The Safer at Home Order is imperative to saving lives and for the long term well-being of our state. Sadly, due to partisan antics and a failure to prioritize public health, GOP legislators have chosen to challenge Governor Evers’ Safer at Home Order and his executive authority to implement this public health emergency. Last week, Legislative Republicans asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to block the Safer at Home Order without offering any comprehensive alternative plan to combat COVID-19. 

Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court took up the Emergency Petition for Original Action filed by the Legislature against DHS Secretary Andrea Palm. With oral arguments now completed, a decision will be made by the Court in the coming days. You can read Attorney General Kaul’s statement on the safer at home litigation here.

Dozens of organizations– representing over one million Wisconsinites– have voiced their support for Wisconsin’s Safer at Home Order. From healthcare organizations and local health departments to community organizations and leaders, people across our state have seen the detrimental impacts of this disease and they support staying safer at home until we can safely return to our day-to-day lives.

The message is clear– Safer at Home is saving lives. While getting Wisconsin back to business is vital, we must also prioritize human life and ensure that we have a plan that truly follows science and public health guidelines. I am hopeful that the Supreme Court can put aside partisanship and do what is right for the people of our state. Lives depend on it.


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:


Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) - Additional $600/week

The DWD announced it started disbursing Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) payments on April 29th. FPUC is a temporary emergency increase of $600 per week in unemployment benefits. FPUC provides additional payment to individuals who are collecting benefits from ANY of the following programs:

  • Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI), including:
    • Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE)
    •  Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service members (UCX)
    • Partial Unemployment Compensation
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
  • Work-Share (STC)
  • Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA) 

Claimants do not need to take any action to receive the additional $600-per-week benefit; the payment will be automatically added to their benefit payments. This means that if a person has a pending unemployment application or are currently receiving unemployment benefits, no action needs to be taken, so long as their circumstances have not changed, the individual remains eligible for benefits under one of the programs above, and they can continue to file a weekly claim. An individual will receive the $600 benefit in the same way they receive regular unemployment benefit. 

For individuals who established a claim before April 4, 2020, the benefit will be retroactively provided from the week ending April 4, 2020, UI week 14/20. Note that the $600 FPUC benefit will not affect income eligibility, as it is not considered earned income. The $600 is not based on weekly benefit rate. If an individual is eligible for some type of UI benefit as listed above, then they are eligible for the full $600 in addition to the unemployment benefits they are due. This is a temporary benefit and the last payable week in Wisconsin will conclude the week ending July 25, 2020. For more information, please visit https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/fpuc/


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
  • Address
  • 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"


Community Resources

Food Resources

Goodman Community Center

Goodman Community Center continues to be a vital partner for Madison food resources during this difficult time! For more information on food availability, please see below:

Drive-Thru Food Pantry 

All are welcome – no need to call ahead. Food is distributed in the Ironworks building parking lot, 149 Waubesa Street, Madison.

Tuesday 9:30 a.m. – noon 

Wednesday 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. 

Thursday 12:30 p.m. – 3 p.m. 


Neighborhood Dinners

The Center is managing a neighborhood meal distribution three days a week.

Wednesday & Thursday – individual dinners

Friday – 2 family-style meals + a pantry bag of groceries 

For more information on signing up, visit: https://www.goodmancenter.org/about/corona 


The River Food Pantry

The River Food Pantry also continues to serve our community with there curbside pick-up hours to ensure food security and safety. 

Curbside Pick-up Hours

Tuesday 10:00am–3:00pm

Wednesday 10:00am–3:00pm

Thursday 10:00am–3:00pm

Friday 10:00am–3:00pm


Temporary Benefits for Children Missing School Meals (P-EBT)

On April 29th, the DHS announced that it is providing more than $140 million in food benefits to families whose kids would otherwise receive free or reduced price meals through the National School Lunch program during the school year. To ensure those same students continue to have access to nutritious meals while staying safer at home, the DHS is covering days for March, April, May, and part of June that school would usually be in session. 

The program is referred to as Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer or P-EBT because the benefits will be put on cards for families to use to purchase food at grocery stores or farmer’s markets, as available. DHS is reaching out to families eligible for the program through direct messaging and mailed letters to let them know how to access their funds. For families that are already part of benefit programs with the state, the funds will be placed on their QUEST cards or a dedicated P-EBT card. Families not currently participating in state benefit programs that are eligible will need to apply separately. 

The P-EBT benefits are separate from the emergency FoodShare allotments announced earlier this month. Also provided to assist families during the COVID-19 pandemic, the emergency allotments allow current FoodShare members in Wisconsin to receive the maximum monthly benefit amount for a household their size. While P-EBT benefits are only for families with school-age children who were previously receiving free or reduced price school lunches, emergency allotments are available to all FoodShare households not receiving the monthly maximum amount. Learn more about FoodShare and temporary P-EBT food benefits here


Renter Protections

On April 29th, the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announced it approved an emergency rule prohibiting late fees or penalties for missed or late rent payments during COVID-19. The emergency rule (Wis. Admin. Code Ch. ATCP 134) prevents landlords from charging late fees or penalties for missed or late rent payments during the public health emergency and for 90 days afterward. You can read more here


Additional Resources

Get Outside!

State Parks

With the weather warming up, now is a perfect time to stretch your legs and venture into one of our newly reopened state natural areas (That being said, we all have an obligation to maintain social distancing while also being good stewards of our breathtaking parks!). 

Recently, the Department of Natural Resources launched a new tool to make sure that we all make the most of our time in our state parks. With the new property capacity tracker, individuals are now able to specifically see if certain parks are at capacity before they leave their homes.

Further, while self-service kiosks are currently closed, annual park admission stickers can be purchased from the DNR over the phone (with a credit card) at 1-888-305-0398. The call center is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for the purchase of admission stickers.  

The Department is also working to stand-up an online system for purchasing park admission stickers from the DNR. In the meantime, the Friends of Wisconsin State Parks does sell stickers online for an additional donation amount of $10 (for a total purchase price of $38) here.


Fishing Season

Gov. Evers' Safer at Home order recognizes outdoor activity as essential. As such, the 2020-2021 Game Fish season will proceed as planned, opening on May 2. All regulations and license requirements apply

The DNR reminds anglers to fish close to home and practice social distancing whether fishing from a boat, dock, or shoreline. It is recommended that only anglers living in the same household should fish within six feet of one another!


Hospitals & Clinics are Safe During COVID-19

While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to keep us all safer at home and avoiding high traffic and at risk areas, we must also continue to prioritize our health and wellbeing and to take care of ourselves.

It is important to know that during this time Wisconsin hospitals and healthcare professionals are encouraging patients to still use the emergency department or urgent care when necessary. Patients should never hesitate to seek emergency care if they are experiencing symptoms, as our state’s hospitals and clinics are taking all necessary precautions to care for patients and to keep them safe.

Providing safe treatment and care is always a top priority. You can read here for more information on how UW Health is working to address patient safety amidst the COVID-19 situation – from moving patient appointments to telehealth or video visits, to visitation restrictions and PPE management, University Hospital and clinics are prepared to handle patients’ vital health care needs.

If you or a loved one are experiencing a health issue non-related to COVID-19, please contact your provider to discuss the best care for you!


“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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