FRI AM News: Evers administration blocked from releasing business names with COVID outbreaks; WisBusiness podcast features Emily Ruyle, WodBottom

— A Waukesha County judge has granted a temporary restraining order preventing the Evers administration from releasing information on more than 1,000 businesses that have had at least two employees test positive for COVID-19.

The order from Judge Lloyd Carter, issued late yesterday, will be in effect for five days unless extended.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, along with chambers from Muskego and New Berlin, filed the suit, arguing the information was pulled from confidential patient health care records and shouldn’t be released.

According to the suit, DOA Secretary Joel Brennan informed WMC of the plans to release the information in response to open records requests. The planned release includes Wisconsin businesses with more than 25 employees who have had at least two workers test positive or have had close contacts investigated by contract tracers.

Gov. Tony Evers told reporters yesterday afternoon he hadn’t seen the suit. Still, he said his lawyers had reviewed the open records request for the information and determined it had to be released under state law.

“We have an obligation to the public to obey the law in that area,” Evers said.

See the suit:

See the judge’s order:

— This week’s WisBusiness: The Podcast features Emily Ruyle, co-founder and chief marketing officer of WodBottom.

WodBottom is an online fitness apparel retailer out of Verona, outside of Madison. As online shopping skyrocketed during the pandemic, businesses either started or invested in their e-commerce websites.

But that’s not enough. Ruyle said companies need to create a connection with customers through online marketing. 

“When I think about the marketing tools that are a must for WodBottom, I think about what is either going to give me a great ROI or what is going to be spreading the most warm-fuzzies,” she said. 

Automated text and email marketing are proving to meet the ROI standards, and proper messaging has helped build a connection with consumers.

“I think with COVID, customers are looking at the businesses they want to support and spend their money on. And those are the ones that give them feelings,” Ruyle said. “I think in that way, an online retailer, it’s different. It’s not like we get to touch people or see them face-to-face, so it’s important to think about that relationship and how you can build that relationship in a genuine way even though everything is online.”  

Listen to the podcast, sponsored by UW-Madison:  

— Sam Rikkers, Deputy Secretary of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp., says $3 million in CARES Act funding will aid Wisconsin businesses with innovative ideas to combat pandemic-driven challenges.

WEDC’s “We’re All Innovating” contest, a new grant program for Wisconsin for-profit businesses, went live Tuesday. 

Statewide outreach is key, according to Rikkers. Businesses in both rural and urban areas will be considered, and the 195 awards of up to $68,000 will be tied to the winning business’ size. Applicants will also be considered within one of three size categories so small and large businesses do not compete with each other.

“What we knew was that certainly, there were existing businesses that would just be massively hit,” Rikkers said in a Wisconsin Technology Council virtual event. “The smaller ones with less resiliency would have a tougher time.”

Reinvesting money in businesses pivoting off of COVID-19 challenges is essential, according to Rikkers. Award funds don’t have to be attributed to idea proposals — they can also be used to offset costs already incurred by businesses with newly implemented operations.

“When we come out on the other side of this, if we haven’t nurtured that pipeline of new businesses and new ideas and innovators, then we’re doing ourselves a disservice and we’ll have a real dip in our economic recovery,” Rikkers said.

— With half of the calendar year data in, DATCP’s International Agribusiness Center finds that the impact of COVID-19 on the economies of Wisconsin’s 136 export partners did not affect exports as severely as the trade team had expected. 

However, in the first six months of 2020, exports of agriculture, food and forestry products to Canada are down 16.7 percent and down 29.7 percent to Mexico. 

Mexico, formerly Wisconsin’s No. 2 trading partner, is now behind Canada, China, Japan and Korea. 

“The trade war prior to signing of the USMCA agreement and a severe recession brought on by the impact of COVID19 are the main contributing factors,” reported the Wisconsin International Trade Team. 

Export of the state’s product categories shows a decline in three of the top five products, making up nearly 43 percent of the total. Dairy and prepared cereals are up. Food preparations, prepared fruit and vegetables and wood are all down. 

The return of the swine herd in China has helped to boost export of dairy products, according to the trade team. The Phase 1 agreement with China and the passage of the USMCA helped to mitigate losses. 

For other export highlights, visit:

— Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce announced a Department of Homeland Security’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency official as a keynote speaker for an upcoming luncheon.

CISA Director Christopher Krebs will speak about cybersecurity, what the agency is doing to protect businesses and manufacturers, how businesses can protect themselves from cyber-attacks and what the agency is doing to prepare for a safe and fair election in the middle of COVID-19.

Krebs serves as the first director of the Department of Homeland Security’s CISA. He was originally sworn in on June 15, 2018 as the Under Secretary for the predecessor of CISA, the National Protection and Programs Directorate. Krebs was nominated for that position by President Trump in February 2018.

Krebs will join previously announced Foxconn Technology Group Vice Chairman Jay Lee to keynote the 2020 WMC Foundation “Made in Wisconsin” Luncheon on Oct. 14.

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:

— An industry-backed partnership to lift startup companies tied to two highly ranked UW-Madison disciplines will be featured Nov. 10 during the Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium. 

With support from the Toronto-based Creative Destruction Lab and Madison-based American Family Insurance, the UW-Madison School of Computer, Data and Information Sciences and the School of Business are launching a risk management “stream” in the Creative Destruction Lab’s science- and tech-based portfolio.

The Wisconsin project is only the second U.S. initiative for the Creative Destruction Lab, which has sites in: five Canadian cities; Paris, France; Oxford, England; and Atlanta, Ga., in addition to the new Wisconsin site.

Presenters at the conference will include Tom Erickson, founding director for the School of Computer, Data and Information Sciences, and Jignesh Patel, an entrepreneurial-minded professor in the Department of Computer Sciences.

“The importance of UW-Madison supporting entrepreneurship in tech has never been greater,” Erickson said. “We are excited to partner with CDL and American Family to take advantage of our existing strengths including expertise in artificial intelligence and data science. This is an incredible opportunity for not just our students and faculty but the whole region.”

Register for the virtual conference here:   

— Menasha Joint School District, just south of Appleton, is one K-12 school in 41 states taking advantage of Charter Communications Inc.’s Stay Connected K-12.

Stay Connected K-12 is a new Spectrum Enterprise solution that enables schools to offer high-speed, cable broadband internet access directly to their students, educators and staff in their own homes. 

Charter announced the offer for schools yesterday as many districts are opting for full or hybrid distance learning this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Every child possesses unique talents and skills, which is why we pride ourselves in providing personalized learning opportunities for our students and families,” said Brian Adesso, director of business services at Menasha Joint School District. “We’re relying on the Stay Connected K-12 program to help us continue to meet the high expectations of our community even when the classroom is online.”

See the release: 

— ThedaCare President and CEO Dr. Imran Andrabi emphasized the staffing shortages hospitals are experiencing around the state in a Department of Health Services briefing. 

“Two hundred and fifty of my workers today at ThedaCare, team members did not show up for work. And it is not because they’re getting infected while they are at work,” Andrabi said.

He said that after work, hospital staff are getting exposed to COVID-19 or contracting the virus out in the community, which is why he is encouraging the public to wear masks when they are out, socially distance, get a flu shot and avoid large gatherings.

“It’s not just the number of beds that are available, it’s also the people that actually serve the people in that bed,” Andrabi said. “We all have to play a part. Handling COVID in ICU beds on ventilators and having the death rate we had yesterday is not the answer to the problem.”

— A new emergency order will allow out-of-state health care workers to practice in Wisconsin as the state’s COVID-19 patient numbers are hitting new highs.

The current surge in COVID-19 cases and the growing strain on Wisconsin’s health care system — both hitting record numbers yesterday — sparked Gov. Tony Evers and Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm to issue the order.

“We are seeing alarming trends here in Wisconsin, with … seeing our highest number of new cases in a single day, and yesterday seeing our highest death count,” Evers said. “Our hospitals are being stretched to the limit, and we need to take action to assist our frontline medical professionals with their life-saving work.”

In addition to temporary interstate licensure reciprocity, the order extends licenses that may expire during the federal emergency declaration for 30 days after its conclusion and makes it easier for health care providers with a recently lapsed license to apply for a reinstatement with the Department of Safety and Professional Services. Out-of-state physicians can also practice telemedicine in Wisconsin with proper notification to DSPS.

— Wisconsin added 2,887 new coronavirus cases yesterday, a record single-day case count.

The new confirmed cases were out of 14,361 people tested. That brings the daily rate of confirmed cases to 20.1 percent. As of Wednesday, the seven-day average was at 17.4 percent.

But in terms of total tests collected — one person can have multiple tests — the positive test percentage was at 10.3 percent Wednesday. This is because 2,908 tests were positive out of 28,053 total tests. The seven-day average was 9.3 percent.

Wisconsin reported 21 new COVID-19 deaths yesterday, bringing the state’s toll to 1,348.

The death rate remains at 1.1 percent for Wisconsin residents who have had a confirmed case of COVID-19. Milwaukee County leads the count with 538 reported deaths.

Counties reporting deaths in the double digits include: Racine (98), Waukesha (92), Kenosha (68), Brown (66), Dane (43), Washington (36), Walworth (35), Rock (33), Winnebago (32), Outagamie (30), Waupaca (21), Grant (19), Ozaukee (19), Sheboygan (18), Dodge (17), Marathon (15) and Fond du Lac (14).

Nine counties in Wisconsin haven’t reported any COVID-19 deaths: Chippewa, Crawford, Douglas, Green Lake, Iowa, Lafayette, Menominee, Pepin and Price.  

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates: 

— Milwaukee, Dane, Brown and Waukesha counties have the most confirmed coronavirus cases in the state, but Brown County has the state’s highest infection rate.

Brown County has an infection rate of 37.6 cases per 1,000 people, up from 30.9 last week. In eight days, Brown County added 1,764 COVID-19 cases. The county has a cumulative total of 9,796 confirmed cases.

The second-highest infection rate in the state is Forest County at 32.3 cases per 1,000 people. It added 66 cases in eight days for a cumulative 297 confirmed cases. Milwaukee County’s infection rate is 31.2 per 1,000 people and its cases number 29,478, an increase of 2,122 cases in eight days. 

Kewaunee County has an infection rate of 30.4 and its cases number 627, an increase of 84 over the last eight days. The fifth-highest infection rate in the state is Outagamie County at 27.7 cases per 1,000 people. It added 637 cases in eight days for a cumulative 5,085 confirmed cases.

The state’s average infection ratio of 21.65 cases per 1,000 people.

See DHS’ data dashboard with county and regional breakdowns here: 


# Air Force One and President Trump visit to La Crosse canceled for Saturday 

# Madison Dairy Expo cancellation costs $25 million in economic loss

# As colleges struggle to ‘hold on,’ cuts increasingly target jobs and spending outside the classroom 



– DBA Makes Push for COVID Lawsuit Protection 

– August All Milk Price Falls to $19.40 Cwt. 

– Other Commodity Prices Mixed 

– USDA Report Shows State Winter Wheat Down, Oat Production Up 

– Virtual Apple Orchard Tour, Annual ‘Crunch’ Highlight Wisconsin Farm to School Efforts 


– Marquette bracing for layoffs as COVID-19, projected enrollment declines dictate major changes

– Pandemic imperils promotions for women in academia 


– SBA official expects Trump will propose more COVID aid 


– Epic’s COVID-19 Data 


– Regal Ware acquires remaining stake in ESPRO 


– Mail found in Greenville ditch did not include any Wisconsin ballots

– State elections official: Democracy in the Park doesn’t appear to violate law


– 181 apartments planned for former West Bend Brewing site 


– Key for Milwaukee hotels for rest of 2020 is surviving 

– The Tommy Bartlett Closes After Almost 70 Years 


– Soybeans – Protecting Road Surfaces 


– Trump’s EPA Touts Revisions To Lead Regulations, With Final Rule Just Weeks Away 


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