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I hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend with friends and family. With cooler temps and students back to school, it's definitely starting to feel like fall! If you love the fall foliage don't forget to check out Wisconsin Tourism's Fall Color Report to see where the colors are popping in the state. 

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

  • The Latest Dane County Emergency Order
  • Find a Vaccination Site Near You
  • Provide Your Input On Fair Maps
  • Natural Resources Magazine Fall Issue Info
  • DATCP's "Rural Realities" Podcast
  • The Governor's Radio Address
  • The Latest Consumer Alert
  • 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

 

New Dane County Emergency Order 

Effective Friday, September 10, 2021 at 12:01am, Public Health Madison & Dane County is issuing Face Covering Emergency Order #2 PDF . The Order is nearly identical to the current face covering order which requires that everyone age 2 and older wear a face covering or mask when in in any enclosed building where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or living unit, could be present.

The new order includes exemptions for actively playing a wind instrument that has a fabric bell cover, or similar cover, that acts as a face covering and while presenting or performing a religious, political, media, educational, artistic, cultural, musical, or theatrical presentation as long as other spacing and vaccination requirements are met.

“In light of the absence of CDC guidance, and taking into consideration guidance from other communities, this latest version of the order includes a narrow exemption for certain performers while performing or practicing,” said Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County. “We highly encourage all performing arts to consider all the ways in which they can reduce disease transmission, especially as the highly-contagious Delta variant continues to spread in Dane County.”

The rate of cases in Dane County has risen rapidly since the Delta variant became dominant; on July 19, our 7-day average number of cases was 19, and on August 12, the 7-day average increased by 382% to 91.6.

“At this point in the pandemic, we all know how to help stop the spread of illness, by getting vaccinated, wearing masks indoors, going outdoors when you can, and distancing yourself from others,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “We ask people and businesses to consider the goal of this order and encourage everyone to follow these common-sense precautions.”

Dane County is among the most vaccinated counties in the country. 84% of people of our currently eligible population, 12 years old and older, have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. However, there are still roughly 75,000 eligible Dane County residents who are not yet vaccinated.

“It is imperative that everyone who is eligible get vaccinated to protect our county from increased hospitalizations and death,” said City of Madison Mayor, Satya Rhodes-Conway, “I appreciate the work our arts community has done to make sure that audiences and performers are vaccinated. Together, we can support our economy and culture while protecting public health.”

Right now, Dane County is in high disease transmission, according to the CDC . The number of people hospitalized in Dane County hospitals with COVID is currently about three times higher than the number we were averaging in July.

“We anticipate seeing more outbreaks and disease transmission as the weather gets colder and schools and universities return to in-person learning,” said Jerry Halverson, MD, Chair of the Board of Health. “Our high level of vaccine coverage in combination with the continued face covering order will hopefully continue to mean that cases in Dane County stay below the state average.”

The order will be in effect until October 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. View Face Covering Emergency Order #2 PDF  for additional information.



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.

 


Fall Issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine Shines Spotlight on Hidden Gems 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced that the fall issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine is now available in print and online

Within the pages, readers can learn about the unique places off the beaten path at state parks across Wisconsin. Striking photographs shared by Instagram users highlight the scenic beauty found within each hidden gem location.

Readers will also get to enjoy an up-close look at Peninsula State Park’s Eagle Tower following an extensive rebuilding project that includes a new accessible observation tower and treetop ramp that allows visitors of all abilities to take in the breathtaking views. Readers can dive deeper into the forest science behind the project that led to the stunning end result.

Celebrate Willow River State Park’s 50th anniversary by learning the history of how this beautiful property joined the State Park System in northwest Wisconsin.

Learn about a new DNR initiative designed to engage youth in urban areas in a favorite state pastime – fishing. The Mobile First Catch Center, dubbed the Fishmobile, brings angler education and equipment to places where kids might otherwise not have access.

The fall issue shines a spotlight on the work of the DNR’s conservation wardens, who make helping wildlife a priority. Other stories include information about a volunteer land access program that helps open more areas to public hunting; a retrospective marking the 150th anniversary of the 1871 Peshtigo fire; and a look at how the George W. Mead Wildlife Area adapted its visitor outreach during the COVID-19 public health emergency by developing virtual presentations and self-guided tours.

Plus, hear from DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole about the upcoming Safe Water for All panel series the agency is hosting this September and October. With safe, clean drinking water a vital priority, the panels will discuss leading contaminants that threaten water resources and address solutions to ensure clean water for all Wisconsinites.

Find all this and more in the fall print issue of Wisconsin Natural Resources and online at wnrmag.com. Grab four print issues for $8.97 by subscribing online or calling 1-800-678-9472.


DATCP's Rural Realities" Podcast Returns for Second Season

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection's (DATCP) Farm Center kicks of the second season of its “Rural Realities" podcast. The first episode features Amanda Harguth, AgrAbility of Wisconsin outreach specialist, who will discuss how AgrAbility can help farmers with disabilities continue farming.

“Farmers face many complex issues and challenges that can cause stress," said Dan Bauer, DATCP's Farm Center supervisor. “Through this podcast, we are able to bring information and resources to farmers that can help them overcome these challenges, in an easily accessible format they can listen to on their own schedule."

The second season will focus on reducing the stigma surrounding mental health in rural communities, providing information and resources on stress management, and helping farmers sustain healthy businesses. The pre-recorded podcasts run between 20-30 minutes and feature a different expert each episode. Podcasts are produced by Bill Baker, who also hosts the syndicated radio program, Dairy Radio Now.

Podcast episodes are available at https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Growing_WI/FarmCenterOverview.aspx.

About the Farm Center
Since the mid-1980s, the Farm Center h​as provided Wisconsin farmers a variety of services including financial analysis, farm transition planning, conflict mediation, and business consultation on industry opportunities and challenges.

The Farm Center has also connected farmers to mental health resources through several initiatives over the past two years, including pilot programs such as a 24/7 Farmer Wellness Helpline (888-901-2558), tele-counseling services, Rural Realities, and other new educational programs. These programs were funded through Governor Tony Evers' 2019-21 and 2021-22 biennial budgets.

For more information, visit farmcenter.wi.gov or contact the Farm Center at 800-942-2474 or farmcenter@wisconsin.gov.


Gov. Evers' Weekly Radio Address

Gov. Tony Evers delivered the Democratic Radio Address to share information about two new programs, supported by more than $250 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds, that will help support Wisconsin’s continued economic recovery and give communities and Wisconsinites across the state additional support to keep bouncing back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can listen to the audio file here and the written transcript is below:

"Hey, folks! Governor Tony Evers here.

Every day, more Wisconsinites get their safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, our economy continues to rebound, and we’re another step closer to putting this pandemic behind us.

But if we want to keep up this momentum and ensure our state keeps bouncing back, we have to keep working to get shots in arms and invest in our economic recovery.

That’s why I was proud to announce we’re investing $275 million into our state’s infrastructure and future so that we can come out of this pandemic even better than we were before.

We’re putting $50 MILLION of our American Rescue Plan Act funds toward a new grant program to invest in healthcare infrastructure across our state, as well as creating a $200 MILLION Neighborhood Investment Fund to support projects in communities near you.

These programs will help local leaders ensure their neighborhoods recover from the pandemic with projects that connect the dots to help families and workers succeed—like housing projects, childcare solutions, expanding transit, and increasing access to healthcare in underserved communities.

I also announced $25 MILLION to support transit infrastructure in our two largest cities to help ensure our workers, students, and families can get from point A to point B.

I’m proud of the work we’ve done to support our state’s continued economic recovery and am looking forward to making these investments so we can continue to bounce back and even better than we were before this pandemic hit.

Let’s keep it up, folks! Thank you."


 Consumer Alert: DATCP Sees Rise in Unemployment Insurance Scam Reports

If you receive a text message regarding unemployment insurance, be cautious about clicking on any links. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has received reports of a phishing text where imposters pretend to be from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) or a similar agency.

These alarming texts claim that there is a problem with your account and that your benefits will be discontinued if you do not click on the link to update your account ID and password. However, they are imposters trying to get your personally identifiable information to steal your identity and your money. Delete these texts, and do not click on any links.

How to tell if a text message from DWD is official:

  • Official text messages from DWD link to my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov
  • DWD does not send text messages to claimants to notify them that their profile or claim will be deactivated.
  • DWD does not send group text messages.
  • Any official text messages from DWD notify the claimant to log on to their Claimant Portal at my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov to view any messages securely.
  • Do NOT click on links, enter your user information, or provide any information to suspicious websites or spoofed messages.

If you have questions about the legitimacy of a text you received, DWD provides updates online about current scam reports at dwd.wisconsin.gov/ui/fraud/scams.htm.

If you have questions about the status of your unemployment insurance or question the authenticity of a text, letter, phone call, or email you receive that claims to be from a government agency, contact that agency directly to inquire. Always contact the agency using a website, phone number, or email address that you know to be accurate – never use the contact information provided by the questionable communication.

If you have been the victim of a scam, report it by filing a complaint online at datcp.wi.gov/pages/programs_services/fileconsumercomplaint.aspx, or send an email to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov, or call DATCP’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-422-7128.


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.