WED AM News: Employer demand for veteran employees dipped at pandemic’s start; Few Wisconsin schools can use Trump administration’s rapid COVID-19 tests

— The demand from employers seeking veterans dipped at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, say DWD officials working in veteran employment services. 

The lessened demand has largely remained the same over the last few months. But Local Veteran Employment Representative Michael James and Southern Region Supervisor for the Office of Veteran Employment Services Al Garcia continue to prepare veterans for employment in civilian life and match them with their ideal careers. 

James, who served 17 of his 24 years in Air Force recruiting, said his job is to match employers with veterans who fit the criteria of certain positions and want to work in that field. 

“Really, the bottom line is, for our team, we work for you and with you, and we also work for the veteran to try to make that match,” James told an audience of employers in a Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce virtual meeting. 

“Our team in Milwaukee averages about five placements a week,” James said. “We’re averaging right around $23 an hour for our veterans, so really good overall. I think, most recently, our highest placing in the last couple of months was around $103,000 a year, so it varies.”

Even though many of the veterans James works with might not have the same amount of experience as their civilian peers seeking jobs, he said veterans are quick learners. 

Read the full story at 

— While the Trump administration is urging governors to use their allocation of rapid COVID-19 tests to keep schools open, the state’s chief medical officer says few schools in Wisconsin have the clearance to use the tests.

Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm said Wisconsin will receive around 2 million antigen tests from Trump’s 100 million pledged to the states by the end of the year.

“I think the biggest advantage of them is of course a shorter turnaround time,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases. He added that these tests will likely make a difference in outbreak settings, such as schools and long-term care facilities. 

The Abbott tests are cheaper and faster than lab tests — it can return a result in 15 minutes. Palm said that this comes as the state works to diversify its testing while the supply chain continues to be fragile.

“It’s a valuable resource that we have to use in the most strategic way we can,” Westergaard said.

While educational settings could be helped, the tests may not be a benefit at this time for a few reasons, he said.

“The first is that the FDA authorization for these was used in people aged 22 and older, so it hasn’t been studied extensively in children,” Westergaard explained. “The other issue is that these are rapid tests, but they need to be used in a setting that has either been certified by the federal government as a laboratory meeting certain standards … or received a waiver.” 

He added that there are few schools in Wisconsin that have the appropriate training and clearance to use the antigen tests. 

“I think it’s unlikely that we’ll be able to rapidly scale up use in school settings, although those are types of settings that really would benefit from rapid turnaround testing,” Westergaard said. “We still have some work to do in order for that to be something that is really beneficial for keeping schools open.” 

Gov. Tony Evers said in a DHS briefing that he supports school districts’ abilities to adjust as needed if they experience “significant disruption” due to COVID-19 cases. 

“Yes, we’re seeing obviously some cases in our schools, but that is not the majority of what we’re seeing that’s driving this and school districts are doing a good job,” he said. “People have to recognize this isn’t just about the schools, we’re operating under community spread here and we can solve this with the tools we have in place.”

School districts were not required to report fall instruction plans to the Department of Public Instruction or on plans to transition from in-person to virtual or vice versa. 

— Foxconn Technology Group Vice Chairman Jay Lee will keynote the 2020 Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Foundation “Made in Wisconsin” Luncheon on Oct. 14.

Lee, founding director of the Center Intelligent Maintenance Systems and the Industrial Artificial Intelligence Center, will share how industrial AI can strengthen productivity and business performance to transform new opportunities for the state’s economy.

Since 2000, IMS has been working with over 100 global companies to develop frontier technologies in the areas of prognostics, industrial big data and industrial AI. Lee was selected by the manufacturing professionals association SME as 30 visionary leaders in smart manufacturing in 2016 and 20 most influential professors in smart manufacturing in 2020.

The luncheon will also feature the winner of The Coolest Thing Made in Wisconsin contest. 

The second round of the March Madness style contest is currently underway with four head-to-head matchups that will determine the “Top 4 Coolest Things Made in Wisconsin.” Individuals can vote now through Sunday at 5 p.m. 

To see the “Top 8 Coolest Things Made in Wisconsin” and cast a ballot, visit:

— A new WEDC contest will award roughly 195 established businesses with 50 employees or less a total of $3 million. 

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is sponsoring the contest to recognize and promote the creative ways startups and small businesses are adapting to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Those who make it through the competitive process can use their winnings to support new business models and technological innovations, from specific health-related solutions to technology that addresses how we’re changing the way we live, learn and work. 

Top winners in the categories will receive a maximum of $68,000 to move their ideas forward. Funding comes through the federal CARES Act.

“Despite the pandemic, Wisconsin’s culture of innovation is thriving,” said WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. “The We’re All Innovating Contest will support those who have taken it to the next level, celebrating the individuals who own, run or started businesses to take COVID-19 on. They hustled to meet their customers’ needs or anticipated what new ones might be.”

The contest will help offset costs incurred since March 1 and those anticipated through the year-end. Additional criteria will consider progress to date and the potential for the innovation to move forward.

Apply by 11:59 p.m. Oct. 18: 

— The Wisconsin Technology Council will host WEDC leaders on Thursday at 10 a.m. to discuss how companies can win the cash grants through the contest.

The webinar is the latest in the Tech Council Innovation Network’s continuing webinar series, “Crossing the Coronavirus Chasm.”

Find registration details here: 

— Top UW-Madison campus leaders will participate in a virtual event Oct. 6 addressing barriers to women and people of color in entrepreneurship and technology commercialization. 

The event is sponsored by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and Discovery 2 Product.  

Panelists include: Chancellor Rebecca Blank; Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education Steve Ackerman; Interim Chief Diversity Officer Cheryl Gittens; Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Strategic Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Administration Tracy Williams-Maclin; WARF CEO Erik Iverson; and WARF Board of Trustees Chair James Berbee. 

The 4 p.m. virtual discussion will be moderated by Aaron Olver, managing director of University Research Park.

The program is the kickoff for a semester of programming related to technology commercialization and entrepreneurship. Upcoming events include a discussion on the ethics and business case for commercializing COVID-19 inventions, a deep dive into Madison’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and a look at software solutions.


— A top state health official says Wisconsin is closer than ever to a “worst-case scenario” for COVID-19 hospitalizations.

As older adults contract the virus, the severity of cases is climbing, which has led to record hospitalization levels, according to Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm.

And as hospitalizations continue to climb, the state-backed Alternate Care Facility at State Fair Park stands prepared for a worst-case scenario.

“The Alternate Care Facility — we built that as the ultimate insurance policy in the worst-case scenario, the scenario we hope we never get to but that we are closer to getting to than we ever have been,” she said.

Palm said DHS has asked hospitals for a four- to seven-day warning if they need to surge patients out of the hospital to the care facility.

As of yesterday, COVID-19 hospitalizations number 646 — a new record and more than double a month ago, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s coronavirus data dashboard. Before the recent surge in cases, the previous record had been 446 patients hospitalized on April 9.

The state also has 205 COVID-19 patients in intensive care — a figure that jumped by 32 since Monday, leading to the state breaking the previous record of 196 patients, also set on April 9.

“It’s important that we do everything we can with our hospital partners to make sure that the staffing shortages that they are seeing and will likely continue to see are addressed in ways that allow them to take care of the patients in their care,” Palm said.

Eight of the past 14 days have brought the state over 2,000 COVID-19 cases per day. The six remaining days recorded over 1,000 new cases.

Wisconsin added 2,367 new coronavirus cases yesterday, bringing the seven-day average for daily confirmed cases up to 2,255, more than triple where it was one month ago, when the average was 684.

The new cases were out of 10,764 total tests received yesterday, putting the daily rate of positive tests to 22 percent — far from health officials’ preferred 5 percent or less, but below the state record of 27.6 percent set on Sunday.

The seven-day positive test average rose to 19.5 percent from 18.2 percent, another new record.

— Wisconsin reported 17 new deaths yesterday due to coronavirus, the most in one day since May 30. 

The death rate remains at 1.1 percent for Wisconsin residents who have had a confirmed case of COVID-19. 

The new deaths bring the state’s toll to 1,300. Milwaukee County leads the count with 529 reported deaths.

Counties reporting deaths in the double digits include: Racine (95), Waukesha (89), Kenosha (67), Brown (63), Dane (42), Walworth (35), Rock (32), Washington (32), Outagamie (29), Winnebago (27), Waupaca (20), Grant (19), Ozaukee (19), Dodge (17), Sheboygan (16), Marathon (14) and Fond du Lac (14).

— From the novel coronavirus to food sciences, the 2020 Wisconsin Science Festival, held Oct. 15-18, will feature more than 100 virtual events.

Activities will include hands-on science experiments, live Q&A with scientists, demonstrations, performances, podcasts and behind-the-scenes tours. Researchers will also provide up-to-the-minute information about what they’re learning about researchers COVID-19.

Sam Mulrooney, program manager for the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, said engaging students at an early age about science is becoming increasingly more important.

“To illuminate to students at a young age that science is for them and to help them see how it could impact not only their future but their career pathways is huge,” Mulrooney said.

With the 10th year of the festival being held virtually, organizers are excited to engage with a wider variety of youth now that the barrier of transportation is no longer an obstacle.

“I am most excited about the statewide engagement because we’re partnered with all these statewide organizations that are finding ways to connect with the public around science even during these trying times,” said Laura Heisler, festival lead. “We want to celebrate that people are being really creative and bringing their science forward in this really unusual circumstance.”

Check the Wisconsin Science Festival website for more detailed information about the full festival schedule: 


# Some People Are Considering Trading City Life For Rural Wisconsin Due To COVID-19 Pandemic

# As COVID-19 Spreads Across Wisconsin, State Shifts Testing Site Resources

# State’s Hemp Program to Begin New Rules on November 1st 



– Agronomist sees promising Wisconsin yields 

– Extension Launches New Podcast on New & Alternative Crops 


– Dane County judge blocks portions of Madison School District gender identity guidance

– Ricke to Lead UW-Madison Meat Science, Animal Biologics Program 


– Billions in grants for live venues, small businesses under Democratic stimulus plan 


– ‘We are in a crisis right now:’ Wisconsin surge continues with 2,367 new cases, 22% positivity rate and 17 deaths

– Rogers Behavioral Health to open new research, resource center on Oconomowoc campus 

– Closure of Advanced Pain Management facilities will eliminate nearly 240 jobs 


– Madison’s 4490 Ventures leads two multimillion-dollar funding rounds 


– Wisconsin justices weigh removal of 130K from voter rolls

– Appeals Court Ruling Reinstates Wisconsin’s 6-Day Extension For Counting Absentee Ballots 


– Snap-on makes $36 million acquisition 


– Marek Group to add 20 full-time employees, plus 200 seasonal employees 


– Major dairy states, major weight in elections 


– ‘Rent Is Still Due’: What You Need To Know About The CDC’s Order To Pause Residential Evictions


– The Cheel gears up for winter and beyond with outdoor expansion 


– Gaming company pivots into tech service for other small businesses 


– Over 800 Wisconsin hotels could face closure without federal aid 


– Indian unveils electric motorcycle geared for kids 


– Op-Ed: Food System Should Work for Main Street, Not Wall Street 


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