FRI AM News: Brewers play role in addressing social issues as state deals with COVID-19 challenges, racism; WisBusiness: The Podcast features Joe Boucher, Wisconsin Innovation Awards

— Athletes and sports teams have taken an increasing role in addressing social issues as Wisconsin and the nation deal with challenges brought on by COVID-19 and what some are describing as an epidemic of racism.

Baseball has a history with social justice in the country with Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier on April 15, 1947, and former Commissioner Bud Selig declaring baseball a social institution that has to listen to society, promote social issues, and be a leader.

Brewers players unanimously decided to boycott Wednesday’s game in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha County, just 45 minutes south of Miller Park’s front door.

“Baseball and sports are frankly, taking a leadership role,” said Rick Schlesinger, president of Business Operations for the Milwaukee Brewers. “As an institution and as an organization, we hope to be… in the conversation. We’re not overstating our role, but we have a platform. You’re now going to see sports teams and players take on leadership roles in politics and issues in society, and that’s probably not going to change.”

Schlesinger told a event the team’s community outreach has included regular video calls with community leaders to understand the perspectives on social justice and the history of Milwaukee’s issues with race and poverty.

Kelly Jo Golson, chief marketing officer at Advocate Aurora Health, praised its MLB partner for improving the community. Aurora has served as the official healthcare partner for the Brewers for almost three years.

“The other key commitments we have that we look for with our partners is a brand that shares our commitment to together improve our community, and we have seen that with the Brewers,” she said.

Both the Brewers and Advocate Aurora are a part of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce’s Region of Choice initiative that aims to grow the diversity of workforce and management and make the Milwaukee area more attractive to diverse talent.

“I think it’s a great attribute for Milwaukee to be home to the Brewers, the Bucks… having the voice of the players I think just adds a richness to the diversity in the community and is an important part of what makes this a great place to live, work, play and learn,” said MMAC President Tim Sheehy. “I think having these organizations anchored here in the community will help us in this instance see ourselves through a different lens.”

Read the full story at 

— This week’s “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features Joe Boucher, co-founder of the Wisconsin Innovation Awards. These awards aim to connect and showcase innovators throughout the state, across industries and organizations of all shapes and sizes.

Boucher explained that innovation is a word to describe creative ideas in all industries and generations around the state.

“We all have good ideas… and we talk to others in our field, but not cross pollinate,” he said. “So the goal is to bring people together from the whole state of Wisconsin who are innovative and creative.”

While Boucher admitted he can’t measure innovation in Wisconsin through the innovation awards, he can bring out the innovators and create a culture of innovation and creativity in the Badger State.

Wisconsin Innovation Awards announced 10 finalists earlier this month chosen from over 400 nominations. Three winners will be chosen in early October during a virtual event. 

Years past, there were 30 finalists and 10 winners announced in an in-person event, but due to the pandemic, Boucher said his team decided to do it differently. 

“Usually, we have about 300 people come, maybe we’ll have even more this year,” he said. “My hope is we’ll have more because it’s easier to participate.” 

Listen to the podcast, sponsored by UW-Madison:,-co-founder-of-the-wisconsin-innovation-awards/

— Two of Wisconsin’s largest hunger relief organizations together received over $10 million as part of the COVID-19 grant from DATCP.

Additionally, 17 food banks and other non-profit organizations that serve Wisconsin will receive a total of approximately $5 million through the COVID-19 Food Security Network Support Grant.

“The DATCP award means crucial, first time access to these foods from people who were previously ignored,” said Sherrie Tussler, executive director of Hunger Task Force, which is receiving just over $7.2 million from the grants.

The underserved include the Indigenous, people of color and the rural poor statewide that will receive foods from Wisconsin producers and farmers, Tussler said. 

Feeding Wisconsin is also set to receive over $7.2 million to increase food bank, pantry and partner capacity and increase food supply to equip its six food banks and 980 local food programs in all Wisconsin counties, according to Stephanie Jung Dorfman, executive director.

The organization will also buy about 2.8 million pounds of food from Wisconsin producers, processors, aggregators and commodity associations, she told 

“The food purchased will support the increased demand (in numbers of households accessing our pantries and demand for pounds per family) our network is experiencing and projecting through COVID-19 response and recovery,” Dorfman said. “In Wisconsin alone, 807,830 people may face hunger this year, many for the first time — an increase of 291,900 people because of the pandemic.”

According to Dorfman, this would increase the rate of food insecurity in Wisconsin from 8.9 percent of the population to 13.9 percent of the population and about one in four children experiencing food insecurity. 

“With a potential virus resurgence, it is projected that demand for our network services could peak this fall or soon after,” she said. “We are also expecting sharp declines in supply if more food donations and federal commodities aren’t secured.”

The Food Security Initiative is made possible by $15 million provided by Gov. Tony Evers from Wisconsin’s federal CARES Act funding. The initiative was announced in May.

“These funds will help our network to ensure that we continue to have the food and infrastructure to increase access to nutritious food in a safe manner through the pandemic response and recovery,” Dorfman said.

See the release for all grant recipients: 

— SSM Health Wisconsin Regional President Damond Boatwright says Dane County in particular has been successful with its COVID-19 response. 

Boatwright told a Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce briefing that as a result of “careful supply chain distribution and resource conservation,” Dane County has been able to keep enough personal protective equipment in stock for health care workers.

The capacity of hospitals in the area has also remained at a good level, according to Boatwright. He also noted that SSM is able to create extra capacity in order to fill more beds in case of a potential coronavirus surge.

Over the past two weeks, the South Central region of the state that includes Dane County has been seeing near-record lows of COVID-19 patients — around 30 — and spikes under the April 7 peak of 70 patients, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s coronavirus dashboard. 

Dane County has seen a steady decrease in daily confirmed cases, according to data from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ coronavirus dashboard. Wednesday, the county had six new cases versus spikes in late June at 150 new cases a day.

Boatwright’s fears instead are on the upcoming flu season.

He’s worried about healthcare workers and their ability to sustain the level of work they have been putting in, as flu season approaches. Influenza symptoms are similar to that of COVID-19, and health officials have indicated it could increase healthcare demand.

Boatwright said COVID-19 has also created financial strain for hospitals statewide. After SSM had to stop elective procedures and slow down clinic visits, the system experienced a $100 million deficit in April.

Through furloughs, reduced hours and staff reductions, SSM Health is currently experiencing around a $35 million deficit, he said.

Boatwright said measures like the CARES Act and other forms of government stimulus have helped, but that most hospitals are operating at up to 90 percent of their “pre-pandemic” levels. 

Moving forward, Boatwright said continued collaboration between the public and private sector and governments will be key in order to find a balance between keeping people safe and making forward progression in a “new normal”. 

— Six horses in northwestern Wisconsin have tested positive since late July for eastern equine encephalitis, which can be spread to humans and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Mosquitoes get EEE virus by feeding on infected birds. The virus is not spread person to person or directly between animals and humans. No EEE cases in humans have been reported so far this year in Wisconsin, according to DHS.

While the virus is very rare in Wisconsin with only three human cases reported in Wisconsin between 1964 and 2019, the infection can be severe. 

DHS notes that many people infected with EEE virus do not get sick, but those who do become ill may develop encephalitis — inflammation of the brain — that typically begins with the sudden development of fever, headache, chills and vomiting. The illness may become severe resulting in disorientation, seizures, coma or death. 

There is no specific treatment for EEE illness, according to DHS, and death occurs in approximately 30 percent of people who develop encephalitis from EEE.

DHS recommends limiting time outdoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active; applying insect repellent; making sure window and door screens are intact; removing stagnant water from items around one’s property; and trimming tall grass and weeds — resting areas for mosquitoes during hot hours. 

— Wisconsin reported 878 new COVID-19 cases and 11 deaths.

The seven-day average of daily confirmed cases rose from 681 to 701. This figure has been declining since late July but has turned back up over the last three days. 

The seven-day average for percent positive tests rose slightly from 8.1 percent to 8.2 percent after the state received 10,791 tests. After a steady increase in the average since early June, the figure has been steady over the past two weeks. However, the data is still flagged as “preliminary” by DHS.  

The new cases bring the cumulative case count to 73,138, with 64,480 recovered. Meanwhile, 1.5 percent of patients have died with the death toll now at 1,111.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (485), Racine (89), Waukesha (73), Kenosha (62), Brown (58), Dane (39), Washington (29), Walworth (27), Rock (26), Winnebago (21),  Outagamie (19), Ozaukee (18), Grant (17), Waupaca (17), Marathon (13), Fond du Lac (9), Clark (8), Sheboygan (8), St. Croix (7), Eau Claire (6), Jefferson (6), Marinette (6), Dodge (5), Pierce (5), Forest (4) and Richland (4). 

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

Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Green, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Lincoln, Manitowoc, Marquette, Portage and Rusk counties report one death each.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates: 

Click here for a list of community testing sites: 

See the latest numbers from DHS:  


# Somber protests in Kenosha after night of chaos, shootings

# After emotional meetings with players, Packers coach Matt LaFleur calls off Thursday’s practice, hopes for change

# Convention centers draw on reserves as Covid-19 triggers worst-case scenario for industry



– Wisconsin’s next direct farmer payments will help small operations 

– Senators Seek Robust Enforcement of USMCA Dairy Agreements 


– Fastest Growing Firms: Moore Construction Services 


– Milwaukee County’s Covid-19 indicators improved this week 


– Gener8tor going virtual with OnRamp Manufacturing Conference 


– ManpowerGroup survey: Nearly all workers concerned about returning to workplace, especially millennials 

– Unemployment claims are ‘stubbornly high’ as layoffs persist 


– U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office in downtown Milwaukee could be moving 


– Jason Industries set to emerge from bankruptcy as private company 


– Walmart joins talks to buy TikTok 


– Wisconsin Lutheran College won’t host Mike Pence for commencement, citing Kenosha unrest

– Jesse Jackson Speaks In Kenosha: ‘We Must Know That Justice Works For The People’


– Evers, Trump sending more National Guard troops to Kenosha in attempt to quell violent unrest 

– Wisconsin GOP Leaders Silent After Calls To Convene Legislature For Police Policy Changes 


– Amid protests downtown, some businesses board up, others serve soup

– National Business Furniture names new president 


– Wisconsin Athletes Won’t Be Told To Stick To Sports 


– Summerfest 2021 to feature new scheduling format 


– InsideWis: The link between education, economy, is more evident than ever 

– Opinion: Moving city forward after disappointing DNC debacle 

– Opinion: It’s time to walk the talk Milwaukee and act like an entrepreneur 


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