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It's been another frustrating week for Wisconsin finances as Republicans continue to use taxpayer money as their own personal piggy bank. It was revealed that Republicans are spending $680,000 on a frivolous and ridiculous investigation into the 2020 election. That's nine times more than the original cost, and that is money that could be better invested in our communities. It has been proven time and time again that the 2020 election was fair and accurate and it's time Republicans accept it and move on. 

This update has lots of helpful information to keep you up-to-date including:

  • Governor Evers Announces $100 to Encourage Vaccinations
  • Find a Vaccination Site Near You
  • Provide Your Input On Fair Maps
  • Data Highlighting the Importance of Getting Vaccinated
  • Tourism Grant Applications Are Now Open
  • Grant Program to Help Economic Recovery
  • Veterans Resources and additional information!

I hope you find this information helpful and please don't hesitate to reach out to my office if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
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JON ERPENBACH
State Senator
27th District

 

Gov. Evers Launches $100 COVID-19 Vaccine Reward Program to Encourage Wisconsinites to Get Vaccinated

Gov. Tony Evers with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced Wisconsin residents who receive their first dose of any COVID-19 vaccine from a Wisconsin provider between August 20 and September 6 can collect a $100 Visa gift card. Wisconsinites ages 12 and older are eligible for the reward, and proof of insurance, I.D., or citizenship are not required to be eligible for the vaccine or to receive the $100 reward.

 

“As our kids start returning back to school, and with the Delta variant spreading rapidly across the state, we all need to step up and stop the spread, and our COVID-19 vaccines are the best tools we have to do just that,” said Gov. Evers. “From now through Labor Day, if you’re a Wisconsin resident and you get your first COVID-19 shot here in the state, you will get $100 bucks. It’s that simple: get vaccinated, get $100. I'm calling on all eligible Wisconsinites who have not gotten their COVID-19 vaccine yet to step up, roll up their sleeve, and do their part to help protect our state and put an end to COVID-19.” 

 

In order to receive the $100 Visa gift card, Wisconsin residents will need to fill out the form available at 100.wisconsin.gov. Information submitted will be used to verify that individuals received their first vaccine dose from a vaccine provider located in Wisconsin between August 20 and September 6. Visa cards will be mailed to the individual's Wisconsin address and may take up to six weeks to be mailed to participants.

 

For more information on the reward program, visit the DHS $100 reward page or call 844-684-1064. Language assistance is available. To find a COVID-19 vaccine location in your community, visit Vaccines.gov or call 2-1-1 or 877-947-2211. 

 

“COVID-19 is continuing to spread and mutate into highly transmissible variants like the Delta variant. Fortunately, the science and data are showing us that we can protect ourselves and our loved ones by getting vaccinated,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “The vaccines are extremely safe. They are highly effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death. And they are critical to protecting our kids, our healthcare workers, and the most vulnerable people in our state. Let’s not give COVID-19 the opportunity to keep mutating: roll up your sleeve, get your vaccine, and claim your $100.”

 

Many Wisconsinites face financial barriers to access the COVID-19 vaccine—factors such as transportation, childcare, or the inability to take time off from work which can make it difficult for many to get vaccinated. The $100 COVID-19 Vaccine Reward Program will provide some additional support to those wanting to get protected against COVID-19. In addition to this reward, Wisconsinites can call 2-1-1 to get assistance finding transportation. There are also some services being offered by national companies listed on the COVID-19 Vaccine Incentives webpage. For those who have been financially impacted by the pandemic, visit the COVID-19 Response Resources webpage for a list of available support services. 

 

The $100 COVID-19 Vaccine Reward Program is part of the ongoing effort to stop the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant by encouraging Wisconsinites to get vaccinated. Wisconsin continues to experience an increase of COVID-19 cases, driven by the Delta variant. The Delta variant is much more contagious than the original strain of COVID-19. With the original strain of COVID-19, an infected person was likely to infect two other people who are likely to infect two additional people for a total of six cases from one infection. With the Delta variant, an infected person is likely to infect five people which can lead to an approximate total of 30 cases from just one infection.

 

While vaccination is the most important layer of protection against COVID-19, with the high-level of disease transmission in Wisconsin, DHS is urging everyone to add more layers of protection including masking up indoors and staying home when feeling sick.


Do Your Part and Get Vaccinated! 

First and foremost, the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community from COVID-19 and the Delta variant is to get vaccinated. 

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 prevents severe illness, hospitalization, and death; it also helps reduce the spread of the virus in communities. Unvaccinated people should get vaccinated and continue wearing a mask until they are fully vaccinated. With the Delta variant, this is more urgent than ever. Data demonstrate that COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the Delta variant. Past infection with COVID-19 does not assure protection from the Delta variant, so people who have had past COVID-19 infection are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. High vaccination coverage will not only reduce the spread of the virus, but also help prevent new, and possibly more concerning, variants from emerging. Vaccination is the best way to protect you, your family, and your community. To find a vaccination location near you visit vaccines.gov(link is external) (https://vacunas.gov/(link is external)) or call 211.

Find a vaccination site near you:

While vaccination remains the top defense against the Delta variant, the CDC guidance also focuses on additional strategies that will provide additional protection against the spread of the virus. Because science has shown that wearing a mask over your nose and mouth can help prevent transmission of the respiratory droplets and aerosols that spread COVID-19, wearing a mask is now recommended in the following indoor settings:

  • All teachers, staff, students, and visitors of K-12 schools should wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
  • Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, who lives in areas with substantial and high transmission as noted on this CDC map(link is external) (orange counties represent substantial transmission and red counties represent high transmission) should wear masks in public indoor settings.


Are You Ready for Fair Maps?

The Wisconsin People's Maps Commission has announced a new public portal where Wisconsinites are encouraged to submit input and maps of their communities, redistricting plans of their own, and written comments to guide the work and recommendations of the People's Maps Commission.

You can learn more submit your feedback here.

 


DHS Releases New Data on COVID-19 Cases, Hospitalizations, and Deaths by Vaccination Status

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has launched a new data webpage, COVID-19 Illness After Vaccination, which includes a visualization showing the rate of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths per 100,000 among individuals who are fully vaccinated versus individuals who are not fully vaccinated. These data are also presented by month, beginning in February 2021. By displaying the rates side-by-side, users can clearly see the difference in rates between these two groups. The overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites who are infected with COVID-19 are not fully vaccinated.

“The increase in cases we are seeing in Wisconsin right now is being largely driven by the Delta variant, and the overwhelming majority of people who are contracting COVID have not been fully vaccinated. With the original strain of COVID-19, an infected person was likely to infect two other people, who were then likely to infect two additional people for a total of 6 cases from one infection. With the Delta variant, an infected person is likely to infect about five people, who are then likely to infect 25 people for a total of 30 cases from one infection,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “The COVID-19 vaccines are still doing their job by stopping the spread of many new infections, and by preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death.”

In July, people who were not fully vaccinated were nearly 3 times more likely to test positive for COVID-19. Additionally, they were hospitalized for COVID-19-related illnesses at a rate 3.7 times higher than people who are fully vaccinated. People who are fully vaccinated also saw a 10-fold reduction in risk of dying from COVID-19 compared to not fully vaccinated people.

The data clearly show that COVID-19 vaccines are still doing their job by preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death. However, because no vaccine is 100 percent effective in preventing infection, we do expect some infections among fully vaccinated people. Fully vaccinated people who test positive for COVID-19 more than 2 weeks after their completed vaccine dose series are called breakthrough infections(link is external). The not fully vaccinated population includes all Wisconsin residents with no COVID-19 vaccine doses reported in the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR), an incomplete COVID-19 vaccine series, and those who have not completed the two weeks following vaccination to build full immunity. 

DHS has also made two other data updates this week. The COVID-19 cases and deaths by county and census tract, municipality, school district, and zip code have been updated to align with the color scheme used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) case-rate definitions used to determine level of community transmission on the CDC COVID Data Tracker(link is external). This alignment with CDC’s tracker is important for local decision makers to elect on layering COVID-19 prevention measures within the community based on levels of community transmission and vaccination coverage. DHS has also updated the New confirmed COVID-19 cases by date confirmed, and 7-day average graph to include a date slider. The new function allows users to zoom in on a particular segment of the graph.

The COVID-19 vaccines remain the one of the best ways to protect yourself, your family, and your community from COVID-19 and the highly infectious Delta variant. Unvaccinated people are encouraged get vaccinated as soon as they can and continue following local public health guidance. To find a vaccination location near you visit vaccines.gov(link is external) (https://vacunas.gov/(link is external)) or call 211.

Getting vaccinated, wearing a mask in schools and in public, indoor settings is critical to stopping the spread of the Delta variant. Everyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or believes they have had exposure to COVID-19 should get tested. Fully vaccinated individuals who have symptoms and are diagnosed with COVID-19 should isolate from others and be clinically evaluated.

For up-to-date information about Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response, visit the DHS COVID-19 webpage.


DNR Announces 2021 Hunting Season Changes

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced the 2021 combined Wisconsin Hunting Regulations pamphlet is now available online and will soon be available at license agents and open service centers around the state.

For the second year, the combined regulations pamphlet brings season dates, shooting hours and regulations together in one convenient document.

Early teal and early goose seasons kick off the 2021 hunting season on Sept. 1. There is no longer a Mississippi River duck zone. Instead, the DNR has added an Open Water zone on Lake Michigan. After a multi-year effort by sporting groups to raise the fee and increase crucial funding for waterfowl habitat conservation and restoration, waterfowl stamp fees have changed this season.

Deer hunters throughout the state will have their first opportunity to enjoy the woods with the opening of the 2021 archery and crossbow deer seasons, which run concurrently statewide from Sept. 18 to Jan. 9, 2022. The archery and crossbow seasons are extended to Jan. 31, 2022 in metro sub-units and many counties will offer the antlerless-only holiday hunt between the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations are still available in almost all counties. Check the DNR website for availability.

The 2021 deer season schedule is as follows:

  • Gun Hunt For Hunters With Disabilities: Oct. 2-10, 2021
  • Youth Deer Hunt: Oct. 9-10, 2021
  • Gun Deer Hunt: Nov. 20-28, 2021
  • Muzzleloader: Nov. 29-Dec. 8, 2021
  • Statewide Antlerless Hunt: Dec. 9-12, 2021
  • Farmland Zone Holiday Hunt: Dec. 24, 2021-Jan. 1, 2022

New this year, updated bear zones will be in effect, approved as part of the 2019-2029 Wisconsin Black Bear Management Plan. Those pursuing bear this season should familiarize themselves with zone boundaries and hunting dates. Bear baiting regulations are also newly updated and detailed on page 23 of the 2021 Wisconsin Hunting Regulations.

Trapping and wolf harvest season regulations will be published as separate documents and available in print and on the DNR website. As in previous years, the hunting regulations pamphlet summarizes Wisconsin’s hunting laws most relevant to hunters. For additional hunting and trapping laws, consult Wisconsin State Statutes chapter 29 or consult chapter 10 of the Administrative Code of the DNR.

For more information on hunting in Wisconsin, visit the DNR Hunting webpage.


Lose Your Vaccination Card?

Have you lost or misplaced your vaccination card? If you were vaccinated in Wisconsin there are ways to access your record.

I was vaccinated in Wisconsin:

You can access and print your entire vaccination record using the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR) . Your WIR record can be used in place of your vaccination card.

I was vaccinated in another state:

If you received your vaccination in another state, go to that state department of health website to determine how to get a copy of your record.


Applications Open for $15 Million Destination Marketing Grant Program

The Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) announced it is accepting applications for a $15 million grant program designed to assist tourism, convention, and events organizations that were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) Grant Program will provide financial support for destination marketing organizations that promote and develop tourism activities in Wisconsin as part of Wisconsin’s continued bounce back from the pandemic.

“Wisconsin is the ideal destination for millions of visitors from around the country. That’s why the tourism industry has a significant impact on our economy, our jobs, and our future,” said DOA Secretary Joel Brennan. “Thanks to Governor Evers, these grants will assist tourism organizations as well as the organizations that host meetings, conventions, and events throughout the year for entertainment and the business community.”

The DMO grant program will provide funding of up to $1,000,000 per eligible organization, based on expenses incurred between March 3, 2021, and December 31, 2022.

“This grant program is another crucial step to help our industry bounce back stronger,” said Department of Tourism Acting Secretary Anne Sayers. “I’m grateful for the support of Governor Evers, who has always valued tourism’s great contributions to the state’s economy and look forward to seeing these funds get to work helping more travelers discover the unexpected in Wisconsin.”

The funds announced today are part of the governor's previously announced more than $150 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for Wisconsin's tourism and entertainment industries, including up to:

  • $10 million for local tourism investment projects;
  • $75 million for lodging grants;
  • $11.25 million for movie theaters;
  • $12 million for live event small businesses;
  • $2.8 million for minor league sports teams;
  • $10 million for live venues;
  • $15 million for destination marketing organizations;
  • $8 million for summer camps;
  • $1 million for the Wisconsin Historical Society to assist in reopening historical sites; and
  • $7.5 million to increase marketing support for Wisconsin's tourism industry.

DMO Grants will be administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA). Applications for the program are open now through September 29, 2021. Informational webinars and program FAQ to follow. Grant recipients will be announced later this fall.

Additional information, including grant program criteria, is available on the Destination Marketing Grant website. Applicants and interested parties are encouraged to sign up for the DMO program email list for Destination Marketing Grant Program updates.

For updates on future Wisconsin grant and aid programs, including other tourism grant opportunities, sign up for the Badger Bounceback update list.


Gov. Evers Announces $250 Million for New Grant Programs to Help Wisconsin Communities Rebound and Build Long-Term Economic Recovery

Gov. Tony Evers announced two new competitive grant programs to help communities across Wisconsin rebound and recover from the coronavirus pandemic by providing $250 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to help communities build long-term, sustainable economic success.

 

Today’s announcement includes a $200 million Neighborhood Investment Fund grant program, as well as a $50 million Healthcare Infrastructure Capital Investment grant program for transformational capital projects that will help neighborhoods recover from the pandemic and that address the equity gap in our state—like housing projects, transit and childcare solutions, and increasing access to healthcare in underserved communities.

 

“Wisconsin continues to rebound and recover from the coronavirus pandemic, but at the end of the day, we don’t want to just recover,” said Gov. Evers. “If we want to see Wisconsin’s families, communities, and economy succeed for years to come, then we need to make the investments today to build long-term, sustainable economic wellbeing for tomorrow. And what better place to make those investments than in our people and our neighborhoods so every Wisconsinite has access to the infrastructure and resources to thrive.”

 

Local and tribal governments will be eligible to apply for Neighborhood Investment Fund Grants to help their communities to deliver innovative public services, including new or improved facilities. Governments could pursue new projects like workforce and entrepreneur innovation centers, affordable housing initiatives, transit and childcare solutions, or public space development, with a particular emphasis on increasing services for underserved individuals and populations. 

 

The Healthcare Infrastructure Capital Investment Grants will provide funding to local and tribal governments or non-profit healthcare organizations to invest in capital projects that specifically support increasing access to healthcare for low income, uninsured, and underserved communities and the ability to respond to future pandemics response needs. Projects could include new or upgraded facility space that enables additional capacity for care within a community. 

 

Both programs are funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act and will be administered by the Department of Administration (DOA). 

 

“DOA is honored to collaborate with local governments, tribal governments, and non-profit healthcare organizations on these community-enhancing grant programs,” said DOA Secretary Joel Brennan. “We know they will bring creative ideas that will lead to tremendous results.” 

 

Those who are interested in receiving more information about the grants, including the application, should sign up to receive alerts here.


Veteran Resources 

Veterans across our state and nation are reacting to the news of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Veterans may feel distressed from experiences during their service. Resources are available to veterans through the U.S. and Wisconsin Departments of Veterans Affairs.

Contacts from the Wisconsin DVA:

  • Veterans Crisis Line - The Veterans Crisis Line is a toll-free, confidential resource that connects veterans and their families to mental health resources. Connect with the Crisis Line.​​
  • County Veterans Service Officers - Your local Tribal and County Veterans Service Officers can help determine the benefits and services for which you are eligible. Find your TVSO/CVSO​. ​

Resources available right now (information provided from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs):

Common Reactions

In reaction to current events in Afghanistan, Veterans may:

  • Feel frustrated, sad, helpless, grief or distressed
  • Feel angry or betrayed
  • Experience an increase in mental health symptoms like symptoms of PTSD or depression
  • Sleep poorly, drink more or use more drugs
  • Try to avoid all reminders or media or shy away from social situations
  • Have more military and homecoming memories

Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service.
Veterans may feel like they need to expect and/or prepare for the worst. For example, they may:

  • Become overly protective, vigilant, and guarded
  • Become preoccupied by danger
  • Feel a need to avoid being shocked by, or unprepared for, what may happen in the future

Feeling distress is a normal reaction to negative events, especially ones that feel personal. It can be helpful to let yourself feel those feelings rather than try to avoid them. Often, these feelings will naturally run their course. If they continue without easing up or if you feel overwhelmed by them, the suggestions below can be helpful.


Strategies for Managing Ongoing Distress


At this moment, it may seem like all is lost, like your service or your sacrifices were for nothing. Consider the ways that your service made a difference, the impact it had on others’ lives or on your own life. Remember that now is just one moment in time and that things will continue to change.


It can be helpful to focus on the present and to engage in the activities that are most meaningful and valuable to you. Is there something you can do today that is important to you? This can be as an individual, a family member, a parent, or a community member. Something that is meaningful to you in regard to your work or your spirituality? Such activities won’t change the past or the things you can’t control, but they can help life feel meaningful and reduce distress, despite the things you cannot change.
It can also help to consider your thinking. Ask yourself if your thoughts are helpful to you right now. Are there ways you can change your thinking to be more accurate and less distressing? For example, are you using extreme thinking where you see the situation as all bad or all good? If so, try and think in less extreme terms. For example, rather than thinking “my service in Afghanistan was useless” consider instead “I helped keep Afghanistan safe.”
Finally, consider more general coping strategies that you may want to try including:

  • Engage in Positive Activities. Try to engage in positive, healthy, or meaningful activities, even if they are small, simple actions. Doing things that are rewarding, meaningful, or enjoyable, even if you don’t feel like it, can make you feel better.
  • Stay Connected. Spend time with people who give you a sense of security, calm, or happiness, or those who best understand what you are going through.
  • Practice Good Self Care. Look for positive coping strategies that help you manage your emotions. Listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals, journaling, or reading inspirational text are some simple ways to help manage overwhelming or distressing emotions.
  • Stick to Your Routines. It can be helpful to stick to a schedule for when you sleep, eat, work, and do other day-to-day activities.
  • Limit Media Exposure. Limit how much news you take in if media coverage is increasing your distress.
  • Use a mobile app. Consider one of VA’s self-help apps (see https://www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/mobile/) such as PTSD Coach which has tools that can help you deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.
  • PTSD Coach Online. A series of online video coaches will guide you through 17 tools to help you manage stress. PTSD Coach Online is used on a computer, rather than a mobile device, and therefore can offer tools that involve writing.

If you develop your own ways of adapting to ongoing events and situations, you may gain a stronger sense of being able to deal with challenges, a greater sense of meaning or purpose, and an ability to mentor and support others in similar situations.


Get Covered Through the ACA!

Thanks to new COVID relief, health insurance premiums have decreased on Healthcare.gov and you can sign up to get covered right now! Four out of five enrollees will now be able to find a plan for $10 or less per month.

If you’ve shopped on Healthcare.gov before, look again! New, lower prices are available for more people than ever before.

If you are are currently uninsured, already signed up for a plan through Healthcare.gov, or eligible for COBRA coverage from a former employer, you may benefit from these changes. People looking to get enrolled or change their current plan are encouraged to visit Wiscovered.com or call 2-1-1 to get free, expert help.

This new enrollment opportunity won’t last forever- sign up today!


Rental Assistance

Reminder, if you or anyone you know that has experienced income loss as a result of the pandemic their is support available! 
 
The Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program, provides direct financial assistance for rent, utility, home energy costs, and wraparound services for individuals who qualify.
 
For information on the program, how to apply, frequently asked questions as well as local resources and contacts please click here.

 


- Resources - 

During this difficult time it is worth reminding Wisconsinites that 211 exists to help when you don’t know where to turn. 211 is a resource managed by the United Way of Wisconsin. Call 2-1-1 or visit their website.

Office of Crime Victim Services

End Abuse Wisconsin 

National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-800-799-7233, text LOVEIS to 22522, or go to thehotline.org for free and confidential support.

Disaster Distress Hotline 

Coping Resources for Kids and Parents Amidst COVID-19 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Veterans Crisis Line 

Vets for Warriors 

Military One Source 

Resilient Wisconsin

Department of Corrections Helpline: The call center can be reached by members of the public Monday through Friday from 7:45am–4:30pm at (608) 240-5700.

Wisconsin Farm Center 

24/7 Farmer Wellness Hotline

LGBTQ Crisis Line 

HopeLine Text Service 

Wisconsin Elder Abuse Hotline 

Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline 


 

Looking for additional resources? If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to my office at Sen.Erpenbach@Legis.WI.Gov, or call (608) 266-6670. 

 

 
 
Contacting My Office

Feel free to contact me with any inquiries.

Please visit my website for press releases and other Capitol updates.