THU AM News: Fox Valley B&B struggles to stay afloat as events cancel amid pandemic; Health leaders integrate medicine, public health to tackle health, social issues faced during COVID

— As numerous events in the Fox Valley area are being cancelled and postponed due to the ongoing pandemic, a local bed-and-breakfast is struggling to stay afloat. 

Franklin Street Inn Bed and Breakfast was founded in 1994. Current owners Keith and Lori Hansen bought the Appleton business in 2016 as a “semi-retirement plan” and the culmination of a lifelong dream. 

“My wife and I used to stay at bed-and-breakfasts before we had kids,” Keith said in a recent interview. “We love to cook and get to know other people, and now that the kids are grown and out of the house, we were looking for a change after 30 years.” 

Both innkeepers are in their late 50s and had previous experience in hospitality but spent most of their careers in education. Keith directed student affairs departments in higher education, while Lori worked as a speech language pathologist for school systems. 

Over the past three years, the business provided plenty of income, and they were able to focus on it completely. But since the coronavirus has slowed travel and caused many large gatherings to be put off or cancelled altogether, they’ve been forced to take on part-time work just to make ends meet. 

Still, Hansen believes they can hang on until the situation improves, adding they could keep the inn open for another year or two under current conditions thanks to the extra income from their other jobs. He’s hopeful many of the area’s large events will come back online in the spring, providing a steady stream of guests for the four-bedroom Victorian-era inn. It’s located near Lawrence University, just a few blocks down College Avenue from the Red Lion Hotel Paper Valley and other convention facilities. 

Read the full story at 

— The State of Wisconsin Building Commission approved a total of about $65 million in six key projects across the state.

The approvals include the construction of three DNR fire response stations in Cornell, Gresham and Black River Falls; a new addition of the La Crosse Center; the Brewing Experience building at Old World Wisconsin; exterior repairs at Mary Ann Cofrin Hall/Wood Hall at UW-Green Bay; design of the UW-Whitewater Winther Hall addition and renovation and the UW-Oshkosh Clow Hall renovation; and over two dozen maintenance and repair projects statewide for several state agencies.

“From public safety improvements and building renovations to celebrating Wisconsin’s brewing heritage at Old World Wisconsin, I am glad the Building Commission approved these critical projects today in order to invest in needed repairs and upgrades across state properties,” said Gov. Tony Evers, who chairs the commission. 

See the release for a full list of construction projects: 

— Integrating medicine and public health are the most important takeaways from the coronavirus pandemic, but UW Health CEO Dr. Alan Kaplan and Dean of UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health Dr. Robert Golden say the most prominent problems are the same problems that plagued the healthcare industry 25 years ago. 

Problems with long waiting times for patients, difficulty scheduling appointments, dealing with insurance and going through prior authorization all existed at the beginning of Kaplan’s career in medicine. But the problems have never been totally solved over the quarter century he’s spent in healthcare. 

However, Kaplan said the healthcare industry has learned quite a bit about the importance of incorporating public health teachings with furthering the study of medicine. 

While furthering medicine through scientific studies, clinical trials, drug developments and advancements in patient care is crucial to helping people live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives, improving public health will bring many of those advancements to the masses and help bridge the disparities in healthcare between communities.

“COVID is unfortunately a horrible way to really learn the importance of bringing together medicine and public health, and it’s not just for COVID,” said Golden in a “UW Now” webinar. 

Kaplan and Golden agree the importance of combining these two healthcare disciplines is the best way to improve the industry moving forward. 

Read the full story at 

— To better fit students’ online education needs, ed-tech company Fiveable launches online Advanced Placement courses, complementing live streams and study guides already available. 

Fiveable’s courses are available for all 38 AP subjects and include 15 weeks of live lectures, organized study schedules and projects for $55 per course. The fall course kicks off on Sep. 8 and will run through Dec.18. 

“We had thought about organizing our live streams into courses for a while, but the needs sparked by COVID moved up our timeline significantly,” Fiveable founder Amanda DoAmaral told “It made sense to teach the full course so that no matter what, students could access high quality remote education.”

A week after launching, Fiveable sold 1,000 courses. It has a capacity for 20,000 students this fall. 

“Students were pitching us on this idea because they were incredibly nervous and anxious about the upcoming school year,” DoAmaral said. “With AP especially, the students wanted to make sure they would be ready for May exams. They wanted our cram sessions to extend out to a full course and after additional exploration, this was a no-brainer.”

– Steep declines in petroleum and salt imports to the Port of Green Bay in July made for a 10 percent decrease in tonnage for the 2020 shipping season.

The shipping season began mid-March and so far, the port reports 907,697 tons of cargo, 10 percent less than 2019 year-to-date. This is due to a tapering off of cargo in July, which saw just under 170,000 tons moving through the port, undermining a strong start to the season.

“Through June we were pretty much on pace with last year, which was a very good year for the Port of Green Bay,” said Dean Haen, the port’s director. “The decline in July was primarily due to drops in imports of petroleum products and salt.”

Domestic petroleum products dropped from 50,000 tons imported in June to less than 9,000 tons in July. Salt imports accounted for more than 106,000 tons in June, while there were no salt shipments in July. 

The Port of Green Bay did note some positives in its release, however, with cement imports up 28 percent from the same period last year. Wood pulp and forest products are up 24 percent year-to-date.

“This has certainly been a difficult year to accurately forecast shipping levels,” Haen added. “The impact of COVID-19 is being felt throughout the Great Lakes and beyond. But we remain cautiously optimistic for a good finish for the remainder of the 2020 shipping season.”  

So far for 2020, 76 vessels have visited the Port of Green Bay, the same number as last year at this time. 

See the release: 

— For the 26th consecutive year, Wisconsin will lead the nation in cranberry production,  according to projections released this week by the U.S. Cranberry Marketing Committee. The fruit has also seen demand increases in 2020, notably for in-home purchases.

According to a release from Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association, the COVID-19 pandemic brought nationwide domestic sales up 8 percent from this time last year. The association said the increase in demand along with supply control and marketing efforts implemented by the industry in recent years has brought inventories more in line with demand.

“As U.S. consumers are searching for products that are both shelf-stable and healthy amid the current pandemic, we’re seeing that many people are rediscovering a love for cranberry products,” said Tom Lochner, executive director of WSCGA. “The industry is working together to capitalize on that renewed interest by exploring new products and educating consumers about the many ways cranberries can be incorporated into meals.”

The U.S. Cranberry Marketing Committee estimates Wisconsin growers will harvest about 5.56 million barrels of fruit this fall of the 8.75 million barrels projected nationwide. Last year, Wisconsin growers had a crop of 4.67 million barrels. National harvest projection is up 15 percent from last year. 

This year’s projections are dependent on good growing conditions for the remainder of the season, which has been favorable so far, Lochner said.

More than half the entire world’s supply of cranberries are grown on Wisconsin family farms — 21,000 acres across 20 counties in the central and northern part of the state. 

About 5 percent of this year’s crop will be sold as fresh fruit, and the remaining cranberries will be frozen and stored for longer-term sales, such as frozen berries, dried cranberries, juices and sauces.

Lochner also added the industry is preparing for harvest during the COVID-19 pandemic: “Food safety and the health of everyone involved in harvest is the industry’s top priority right now.”

See the release: 

— Only six counties in the state rank below the high mark for COVID-19 activity and no county ranked “low,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. 

However, only six counties are seeing both an increased trend in cases and a high burden of cases: Fond du Lac, Green, Jefferson, Lafayette, Oneida and Pierce. This is a change from the 10 or more counties and regions recently listed as experiencing those trends. 

In terms of infection ratios, Milwaukee County has the state’s largest at 22.4 per 1,000 people. In one week, Milwaukee County added 1,156 new COVID-19 cases to its count, giving the county a cumulative total of 21,331 confirmed cases.

The second-largest infection ratio in the state is Racine County at 18.3 per 1,000 people. It added 224 cases — about 400 less than last week — in one week for a cumulative 3,567 confirmed cases. 

Brown County has an infection ratio of 16.7 per 1,000 people and a cumulative total of 4,340 confirmed COVID-19 cases after adding 240 cases in one week. Kenosha County’s infection ratio is 16 per 1,000 people and cases number 2,692 an increase of 131 cases in one week — about 100 less than last week.

Walworth (13.9), Iron (13.3), Trempealeau (11.7) and Waukesha (10.9) are the only other counties that are above the state average infection ratio of 10.69 per 1,000 people. Marinette County’s ratio is rising, currently at 10.65 per 1,000 people. 

And in terms of cases, seven other counties have over 1,000 cumulative confirmed cases. These are Dane (4,578), Waukesha (4,354), Rock (1,444), Walworth (1,359), Outagamie (1,299), Winnebago (1,212) and Washington (1,108).

See DHS’ data dashboard with county and HERC region breakdown:

— Wisconsin reports 478 new COVID-19 cases after receiving a total of 9,924 tests, bringing the percentage of positive tests per total tests down to 4.8 from 5.3.

The seven-day average for percent positive tests remained at 6.3 percent and the cumulative positive tests per total tests is over 5.7 percent and rising, according to DHS’ figures. That continues to be above the preferred 5 percent threshold.

The seven-day average of daily confirmed cases dropped to 760 from 818. That’s the lowest it’s been in one month.

The new cases bring the cumulative case count to 62,263. DHS reports that 52,350 have recovered. Meanwhile, 1.6 percent of patients have died and 8.2 percent have been hospitalized.

For more coronavirus resources and updates: 

— The state also recorded seven new COVID-19 deaths and two removals from the count, bringing the toll to 1,011.

Oconto County reported its first death. Milwaukee County reported four new deaths while Fond du Lac and Ozaukee counties each reported one more. Kenosha and Racine counties each removed one death from the total.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (462), Racine (78), Kenosha (59), Waukesha (59), Brown (54), Dane (38), Rock (26), Walworth (23), Washington (22), Winnebago (18), Ozaukee (18), Grant (15), Waupaca (15), Outagamie (14), Marathon (10), Sheboygan (8), Clark (8), Fond du Lac (8), Dodge (5), Jefferson (5), St. Croix (5), Eau Claire (4), Forest (4), Marinette (4) and Richland (4). 

Barron, Door, Pierce and Sauk counties report three deaths each. Adams, Buffalo, Calumet, Columbia, Kewaunee, Monroe, Polk, Trempealeau and Wood counties report two deaths each.

Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Green, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Langlade, Manitowoc, Marquette, Oconto, Rusk, Taylor and Waushara counties report one death each.

— DHS took on 98 more facility-wide investigations this week. It’s now conducting 1,169 statewide.

Non-health care workplaces account for 463 of the current investigations, followed by 306 in “other” settings. 

Two hundred and ninety-nine investigations are in long-term care facilities, which are reporting 391 deaths due to COVID-19 and 39 percent of the state’s COVID-19 deaths. That’s 13 more deaths since last week. These include nursing homes and assisted living facilities, such as community-based residential facilities and residential care apartment complexes.

There are 103 active nursing home investigations.

Over 88 percent of confirmed COVID-19 patients who have died in the state were age 60 or older.

Fifty-four of the investigations are in group housing facilities including correctional facilities, homeless shelters, dormitories and group homes, which have seen 46 COVID-19 deaths, or 5 percent of the state’s total.

Two hundred and ninety-one deaths are categorized as “unknown,” meaning they may or may not have occurred at these facilities. According to DHS, the unknown category exists because relevant information has only been collected since April 8.

DHS is also conducting 47 investigations in health care facilities. A majority of the investigations are taking place in Milwaukee (194), Waukesha (148), Brown (112), Dane (92) and Kenosha (87) counties.

There have been a total of 1,761 investigations, with 690 investigations closed. An investigation is considered closed and removed from the DHS listing 28 days after the last positive case was confirmed.

To see the nursing homes with active public health investigations and a breakdown of investigations by county visit: 


# Wisconsin Research Key To New COVID-19 Test Using Saliva

# Rural Business Development Grants get $866,000 in to WI Communities 

# Good City Brewing joins list of Milwaukee venues losing TV network gigs as DNC goes virtual



– “Folks will work together to get through this” – Iowa Ag. Secretary Mike Naig addresses widespread storm damage 


– With PPP closed, here’s how many Wisconsin businesses obtained loans 


– Allergy Amulet raises $3.3M for its device that identifies food allergens in seconds 


– American Family names successor to CEO Jack Salzwedel 


– Investors ‘back with a vengeance’ as warehouse demand surges 


– African-American Leadership Alliance of Milwaukee names first president and CEO 


– Enerpac Tool Group sees improvement over the summer, cost-savings protocols still in place 


– 54 Wisconsin companies make 2020 Inc. 5000 list 


– Southeastern Wisconsin housing market rebounded in July 


– Covid-19 forced massive adoption of technology throughout Wisconsin 


– Ambassador Hotel announces reopening date, plans 

– Milwaukee Film plans two 15-day virtual festivals, including Milwaukee Film Festival  


– United Airlines adds two nonstop Florida destinations at Milwaukee airport 

– Delivery company laying off 98 employees in Sussex 


– Waukesha locks in EPA loan for $286M water system, construction starts in September 


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

– U.S. Rep. Gallagher: EPA Administrator highlight progress in restoring Fox River 

– U.S. Sen. Baldwin: Questions Vice President Pence on federal diversions of testing supplies from Wisconsin