FRI AM News: DWD hopes to see $600 federal unemployment bonus continue; WisBusiness podcast features David Gee, UW-Whitewater professor, author

— The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development received 795,000 unemployment claims since March 15 or 4.6 million weeks of recurring claims, nearly three times the number of claims in all of 2019. 

DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman told a Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce briefing the agency has hired and trained up to 1,400 new staff since March to help process those claims. However, the department is still facing a backlog. 

“We have about 4.6 million weeks of unemployment insurance claims, so that’s recurring claims, and of those 4.6 million, we’ve resolved about 4 million — we’ve paid or denied them — so that means 12.5 percent of folks that have filed are in adjudication,” Frostman said. 

He said that Wisconsin is known for having one of the most complex set up laws that require DWD to determine eligibility, and the “bareboned” staff had experienced a surge it had never seen before. That caused the backlog, he said.

With the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program of $600 per week from the federal government expiring tomorrow, Frostman said many unemployed workers would experience a setback. He said he’s hopeful Congress will continue to provide supplementary assistance. 

Read the full story at 

— This week’s “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features David Gee, professor of entrepreneurship and director of the Launch Pad program at UW-Whitewater. Gee is also the author of “Restart; The Small Business Guide to Thriving During Chaos”. 

His book is aimed at helping small businesses face economic challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic that has disrupted the world. 

“I started seeing some patterns between the strategies businesses started to take,” he said, noting that “the thrivers” were willing to take a look at the business model and restructure.

Gee talked to both large companies and small business owners that have been through economic challenges such as the Great Recession and 9/11, and weaved the success stories together. 

“One of the things I wanted to do was be really agnostic of industry,” he said. “I really wanted to get lessons across the spectrum of industries… It can help anyone.”

The most important lesson according to Gee’s research is that businesses need to take a step back and use this time to evaluate what the business is doing now and how the business needs to evolve in the future in order to thrive.

Listen to the podcast, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

— Gov. Tony Evers pledged his administration “will not touch” state funds allocated to the Unemployment Insurance program after he called for $250 million in budget cuts to deal with the COVID-19 revenue crunch.

Still, quizzed by reporters on whether the cuts would affect the departments of Workforce Development and Health Services and the UW System, the guv said all three agencies will need to “sharpen their pencils”.

Speaking on a Department of Health Service briefing this afternoon, Evers and DHS Secretary Andrea Palm pledged DHS would “take the steps we need to contribute to that target.”

Still, she noted her agency’s response to the pandemic has largely been fueled on the funding front by federal dollars from the CARES Act passed in March by Congress and said additional federal funding would be needed to prop up pandemic response in 2021.

“The dollars we have received need to be spent by the end of the year, which leaves us in need to have additional dollars at the beginning of next year to continue the response we have started here,” she said. “We’re going to need those dollars until there is a vaccine.”

DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman earlier in the day said the cuts would be “really challenging” when asked in a Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce briefing about the implications for DWD’s modernization plan.

“We’re going to leave no stone unturned at the state or the federal level for modernization, but there will be some difficult decisions throughout state government including at DWD as to what has got to be prioritized here going forward,” he said.

Frostman added the state’s beleaguered Unemployment Insurance program was primarily federally funded, meaning the agency would be “making a large ask for our federal partners.”

Quizzed on those comments, Evers said his administration “cannot afford” to cut state funding levels for the UI program.

“They’re making good progress. We need to make sure they continue to make that good progress so that everybody that is waiting gets the resources they need in order to thrive as a state,” he said.

Still, the guv noted the agency’s scope expands far beyond the UI program and said DWD “will need to sharpen their pencils.”

— Finance Committee Co-chair Rep. John Nygren is skeptical of Evers’ goal and told it’s too early to know what those cuts will look like.

“There’s no details yet, but I’m a little skeptical because when he announced he was going to do a 5 percent cut, they couldn’t even do that,” the Marinette Republican said. “It ended up being less than 2 percent and at least half of that was from UW.”

Nygren did say that he’s been supportive of the calls for budget freezes and being aggressive in managing the state’s resources “so we don’t have to get into a dire situation.”

“The good news is because we’ve been pretty frugal and pretty responsible over the last eight years, we’re in a far better situation to weather the storm than a lot of other states, but it’s still going to be difficult,” he said.

— Evers said at the briefing he would enact a mask mandate if he was certain there would be no legal obstacles.

But Evers told reporters in a DHS briefing that the state Supreme Court left the administration’s role in fighting the virus in a “messy state.”

When asked if he would hesitate to enact a mask mandate if he was confident that there would be no legal obstacles, Evers responded: “No.”

“But frankly, folks can right now put on a mask,” he said. “There’s nothing to prevent you from doing it.”

Chicago indicated that Wisconsin could be the next state added to the city’s travel order, requiring travelers entering or returning to Chicago from states that experience a surge in COVID-19 cases to quarantine for two weeks.

Evers said he takes that as a message to “put some damn masks on and continue to reverse the course that we’re in.” However, he noted that Chicago will not be putting roadblocks up and checkpoints for Wisconsinites to enter the city — and neither will Wisconsin.

See the briefing:

— Evers also announced K-12 schools would be eligible to apply for $46.6 million provided through CARES Act funding.

Evers said he established the money under the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, and that 155 different local education entities around the state are eligible to apply for a portion of the money.

The money comes on top of a previous $174.8 million in aid the state received through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.

The guv in a statement said the money is meant to help students, parents and teachers “who are navigating uncertainty in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“It’s vital to ensure the schools across Wisconsin that are most significantly impacted by COVID-19 have the additional resources they need as they make decisions about how students will learn in the upcoming school year and beyond,” he said.

Evers added the funds are meant to go towards schools that would be hardest hit by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis, either because of student economic disadvantages, a lack of access to online tools or students’ scores on the English Language Arts Assessment.

The Department of Public Instruction provided a map highlighting which school districts would be eligible for the money, with most appearing in northern and western Wisconsin.

The state’s tribal schools and some independent charters schools are also eligible to receive aid.

A DPI list of school districts, tribal schools and charter schools eligible for aid show nine slated to receive more than $1 million:

*Milwaukee ($10.8 million)

*Madison Metropolitan ($3.9 million)

*Kenosha ($3 million)

*Green Bay Area Public ($2.9 million)

*Racine Unified ($2.5 million)

*Janesville ($1.4 million)

*Sheboygan Area ($1.5 million)

*West Allis-West Milwaukee ($1.2 million)

*Fond du Lac ($1 million)

State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor in a statement said she appreciates Evers’ “acknowledgment of the impacts of COVID-19 and the costs incurred by public schools” while planning to reopen in the fall.

She said the DPI would continue to work with school districts in finding relief funding.

See the release:

See the eligibility list:

— Wisconsin saw 1,052 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, and the seven-day daily case average has risen to a new record at 896.

DHS Secretary Andrea Palm noted that the seven-day case trend is an important metric as “a single day does not make a trend.”

“With all of this data, there are bumps in it,” she said. “It’s why those seven-day averages are important pieces of this information to look at because they help us understand over time and smooth out fluctuations.”

Fluctuations can be due to delayed test results or misreporting. 

The percentage of positive tests per total tests is 6.9 percent, according to the Department of Health Services’ data dashboard, up from 4.8 percent Wednesday. 

The new cases bring the cumulative case count to 45,899 and active cases to 9,504 or 20.7 percent of total cases.

The number of recovered patients number 35,502 or 77.4 percent, while 1.9 percent of patients have died. Active cases are defined as those still in a 30-day waiting period of symptom onset or diagnosis.

The state received 15,264 total tests yesterday; Wisconsin has a capacity for 24,162 tests per day.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates: 

— DHS reports 13 more COVID-19 deaths, bringing the total to 878.

Milwaukee County reported five new deaths, Brown and Kenosha counties added two more each, while Eau Claire, Outagamie, Walworth and Winnebago counties each reported one new death.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (422), Racine (69), Brown (49), Kenosha (49), Waukesha (42), Dane (33), Rock (25), Walworth (20), Washington (19), Ozaukee (16), Winnebago (16), Grant (14), Waupaca (14), Outagamie (12), Clark (7), Fond du Lac (6), Dodge (5), Sheboygan (5), Forest (4), Jefferson (4) and Richland (4).

Door, Eau Claire, Marathon, Marinette and Sauk counties report three deaths each. Adams, Barron, Buffalo, Calumet, Polk and St. Croix counties report two deaths each.

Bayfield, Burnett, Columbia, Green, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Kewaunee, LaCrosse, Langlade, Manitowoc, Marquette, Monroe, Rusk, Trempealeau and Wood counties report one death each.

— Evers expects to hear a response from President Trump on extending the federal funding of the National Guard in the state’s coronavirus response that ends Aug. 7. 

“This is a national emergency and we expect that the president understands that,” Evers told reporters yesterday in a DHS briefing. “We plan on having him do that and we plan on hearing from that today. If he does not, he would be sending the wrong signal to the people of this country, the people of Wisconsin.”

In the meantime, Evers said the administration is weighing its options for financial resources to keep the Guard working in the state’s response to COVID-19. 

If the federal declaration ends, CARES Act funds could be used for costs associated with the Guard activation. 

Chief Legal Counsel to the governor, Ryan Nilsestuen said Evers was the first governor to send a letter to Trump requesting an extension of federal funding for the Guard to the end of the year. The guv’s most recent letter to the Trump administration regarding the Guard was June 23. Since that time, Nilsestuen said almost “if not all” the governors nationwide have asked the White House to do the same. 

To date, the state has collected 824,741 tests, of which more than 256,000 have been collected by the Wisconsin National Guard.  


# Alliant Energy Announces Plans To Eliminate Coal And Go Carbon-Neutral

# Trump to send federal agents to Milwaukee in anti-violent crime effort — a move opposed by some state and local officials

# Affordable housing, police reform among themes in Cap Times Assembly debate



– Wisconsin Still Tops Nation in Mink Pelt Output 

– DATCP Creates New Wisconsin Agriculture Youth Council 

– Dairy Sees “Significant” Payments Through CFAP; Still Time to Sign Up 


– Associated Bank increases provision for credit losses in second quarter 


– Milwaukee-area companies’ sales, profit expectations decline for third quarter, MMAC survey indicates 


– How US Schools Are Deciding Whether To Hold Classes In-Person Or Online 

– Wisconsin Private Schools Have Advantages — And Concerns — Public Schools Don’t As They Plan For Fall 


– Wisconsin could be the next state on city of Chicago’s quarantine list 

– Wisconsin Lab To Be Central In National COVID-19 Research 

– ‘We Need Help’: First Responders Ask For Mental Health Aid As Part Of Pandemic Response 

– DHS: Young People A Third Of New COVID-19 Cases In July


– Sherman Phoenix launching nonprofit arm pushing for racial equity, inclusion 


– Koss Corp. suing major headphone brands, including Apple, Bose, for patent infringement 

– Trying to preserve an iconic firm — Briggs worked for months to line up potential buyers, Ch. 11 plan 


– Retailers Target, Kroger, Walmart team up to replace plastic shopping bags 

– Treats from Confectionately Yours headed to shelves at Sendik’s 


– Packers Host Annual Shareholders Meeting Online Amid COVID-19 Pandemic 


– Geneva Supply acquires Cascio Interstate Music, plans to open Menomonee Falls event space 


– Milwaukee hotels surpass 40% occupancy 

– Charles Allis and Villa Terrace Art Museums to reopen July 29 

– Milwaukee County Zoo opens new hippo exhibit while continuing phased reopening 


– Mitchell International Airport sees slight increase in June traffic 

– Department Of Transportation Head Talks About I-94 


– State Regulators Extend Moratorium On Utility Shutoffs For Residential Customers 


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

– WHEDA: Awards National Housing Trust Funds 

– Sierra Club: Applauds PSC decision to extend shut off moratorium 

– American Libraries Association: Awards $1.3 million to 13 libraries to develop library entrepreneurship centers 

– Wisconsin Women in Government: Seeks professional women to join Board of Directors 

– Charter Communications: Extends its advanced network in the Town of King as part of a public-private broadband construction project