FRI AM News: Exact Sciences prepares for November launch of at-home COVID-19 tests; “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features economist Noah Williams

— After recently receiving its at-home or self-collection authorization from the FDA, Exact Sciences has a new option for employers to test their employees for COVID-19.

The FDA approval allows someone to swab on their own without a medical professional.

Currently, Exact Sciences partners with businesses in the same way it does with the Department of Health Services. It provides the testing supplies, but then it’s up to the business to make sure that a specimen is properly collected and transported back to Exact Sciences’ Madison lab for testing. Then, it’s up to the business to make sure that employees are notified of their test result.

What’s coming next — the at-home test — has a telehealth provider who oversees the order and the result electronically, so there’s no need for a business to have its own on-site or contracted medical professional, said Jake Orville, general manager of Pipeline at Exact Sciences. Orville’s role is to help get new diagnostic tests on the market.  

“This process provides flexible options on how to receive testing supplies either in bulk to you as an employer to hand them out or individually directly to the employee at their home,” he said in a Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce virtual event. “This option has dashboards that provide insights to the employer on results and even compliance with who’s performing the testing.”

While several companies are currently using this new process, Exact Sciences and its partner Everlywell expect to have additional capacity in about 60 days. 

Read the full story at 

— This week’s “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features Noah Williams, UW-Madison economics professor and director of the Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy.

Williams expects that Wisconsin will get back to pre-pandemic unemployment rates towards the end of 2021. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was at 6.2 percent in August compared to April’s 13.6 percent. In March, the last month before the pandemic, the rate was at 3.1 percent.

“We have seen a relatively rapid bounceback in the state — more rapid than nationwide,” he said. “But the rate of improvement has definitely slowed over the summer. A lot of the remaining unemployment has to do with the businesses that aren’t able to operate at full capacity because of the social distancing requirements.” 

Hospitality and tourism, largely hotels and restaurants, have been hit the hardest, Williams said. But Wisconsin’s diversity in employment has allowed the Badger State to bounce back more quickly compared to other states.

 “Manufacturing has actually been a relatively strong area,” he said. “Retail has been a little bit of a mixed bag. Within the restaurant sector, quick dining and fast food has actually seen quite a bit of growth.”

Williams said the economy won’t fully recover until the virus has a vaccine. With respiratory viruses peaking in the colder months and spikes in cases on college campuses, it could hinder the state’s current economic recovery. 

“The slowing which we saw later in the summer was due at least in part to the resurgence of the virus nationwide,” he said. Targeted restrictions and increased consumer fear could prevent a full recovery moving forward.

Listen to the podcast, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

— Two Madison-area nonprofits will receive a cumulative total of $45,000 in Spectrum Digital Education Grants. 

Urban League of Greater Madison and 100 Black Men will use the grants to further digital literacy in underserved populations within the Madison area. 

This is the second year that Urban League has received the digital education grant. The organization will use the money to expand the digital capacity of its employment programs and redesign some of its in-person programming for delivery in a virtual format.  The resulting services will include digital work readiness and vocational skills training that leads to careers in high-demand, technology-driven industries.

“The workforce displacement that has resulted from COVID-19 has been unprecedented, and its impact on the African American community has been disproportionate,” said Ruben L. Anthony, the league’s president and CEO. “Spectrum’s support will allow us to help hundreds of individuals and families who have been impacted find their way back into the workforce, while simultaneously helping employers find work-ready, diverse talent.”

The grant dollars will provide 100 Black Men technical solutions to reliably connect three thousand limited-income families to the internet.  

“The 100 Black Men of Madison, Inc. is honored and humbled by this demonstration of support and partnership,” said the organization’s President Floyd Rose. “The Spectrum Digital Education Grant will provide 100 Black Men technical and conventional solutions to ensure that limited-income families will be poised to reliably connect to the internet.”

These grants are part of Spectrum’s multi-year, $6 million cash and in-kind national commitment to digital education in Spectrum communities across the country.

— Voting concludes Sunday at 5 p.m. for the Top 8 Coolest Things Made in Wisconsin.

To see the top 16 and cast a ballot visit: 

— Gov. Tony Evers and DHS Secretary Andrea Palm again pleaded for Wisconsinites to follow the science and wear a mask.

“The science shows that they form a barrier against respiratory droplets that spread COVID-19,” Palm said in the Thursday briefing. “We all need to be wearing a mask whenever we go out. And equally important, please make the choice to stay home as much as possible. We were successful at flattening the curve in the spring because we all pitched in and stayed home.”

Evers blamed a Republican-allied state Supreme Court for shutting down his extended Safer at Home order in the spring, limiting his options for mitigation strategies.

“Republicans can come into Madison at any point in time and pass some things, and I’ll get behind them 100 percent that would mitigate and make a difference in this,” Evers said. “But just remember where we were last April and look at where we are now. And I can tell you that I believe it would look a lot different if the chaotic decision of the Supreme Court did not happen.”

The seven-day average for daily confirmed COVID-19 cases climbed to 1,940 yesterday — an almost three-fold increase from one month ago — after the state added 2,392 new COVID-19 cases yesterday.

Wisconsin received 13,279 total tests yesterday, which brought the daily rate of positive tests to 18 percent from 13.1 percent. The seven-day positive test average again rose to 17 percent from 16.9 percent — moving further from state health officials’ preferred rate of 5 percent or less.

— Evers announced $8.3 million in federal funding to boost COVID-19 testing at private nonprofit and tribal colleges and universities.

The funds are drawn from the $2 billion allocated to Wisconsin by the federal CARES Act and come as the state is seeing a surge in coronavirus cases among young adults. Health officials have pointed to the start of the school year and in-person social gatherings as reasons for the surge in cases among the 18-24 age group within the past month.

DHS preliminary data show that those in the 18-24 age range had 23,990 confirmed cases by the week of Sept. 13. That’s an increase of 2,842 cases over the week before and a higher count than any other age group. It also has a case rate five times higher than any other age group at 43.9 cases per 1,000 people.

Yesterday’s move marks the second time the guv has allocated CARES Act funds to private nonprofit and tribal higher education institutions. Evers earlier this year directed just over $8 million to private nonprofit schools and distributed an additional $2 million to Wisconsin tribal colleges.

According to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the money released earlier this year provided financial assistance to higher education institutions.

See the release:

– Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable and DHS Secretary Andrea Palm are calling for the upcoming 2021 open enrollment period to be extended to the end of January 2021.

Open enrollment is currently scheduled to begin Nov. 1 and continue through Dec. 15. 

Afable and Palm were joined by around 30 different health care and insurance providers, as well as consumer, government and community organizations, in asking for the extension in a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma.

“The pandemic has likely increased the need for health insurance while posing enrollment challenges, especially for those who might be new to the marketplace and need assistance in signing up,” Afable said. “An Open Enrollment period extension would allow additional outreach and assistance to those who may have lost coverage due to the pandemic.”

See the letter: 


# Report: Milwaukee area one of nation’s top net migration gainers during COVID-19 

# Why Exact Sciences Stock Skyrocketed Today

# Gov. Evers warns of ‘near-exponential’ COVID-19 growth; more people in Wisconsin now hospitalized with virus than ever before



– What We Know — And Don’t — About COVID-19 In Meatpacking Plants 

– Soybean Farmers’ Chemical Use, Production Costs to be Surveyed 

– State Corn Growers Announce Political Endorsements 

– State Poultry Producers Collecting More Eggs 


– Covid-19 pandemic leads to bump in local deposits at Milwaukee-area banks 


– Milwaukee-area food hall developers, operators share successes 


– Homeless encampments in Madison parks signal worsening housing crisis ahead


– College struggle to balance the books as food services draw scrutiny from students 

– UW-La Crosse Plans To Resume In-Person Classes Despite Community Spike Of COVID-19 


– Milwaukee becoming a large adopter of telemedicine, report shows 

– Ascension Wisconsin’s parent company posts $1 billion loss 

– Drug Trials Using Psychedelics To Treat Depression 


– La Crosse Poll Worker Sues Evers, City Clerk Over Mask Mandate 


– Harley-Davidson will stop selling, making bikes in India 

– Johnsonville plans expansion after buying Wigwam Mills building in Sheboygan 

– Eaton Corp. pursuing $24 million expansion of Badger Drive facility in Waukesha 

– How strong will Briggs & Stratton’s future be under new owner KPS? 


– Sen. Ron Johnson backs outsourcing, says it’s better to have products made ‘dirt cheap’ overseas

– Pandemic, Campus Shutdowns Add Additional Hurdles For Wisconsin’s College Voters

– At Eau Claire Rally, Pence Confirms Trump Will Nominate RBG Replacement Saturday 


– Protest planned as Strauss Brands seeks approval for new Franklin meat facility 


– Kohl’s sees home products, Lands’ End offering opportunities for holiday season 

– More Wisconsin Republicans than Dems going to restaurants, bars during pandemic: MMAC poll 

– Beyond TikTok, Walmart looks to transform 


– Chryst Says Daily Testing Has Changed The Game For Big Ten Football Amid Pandemic 


– College football’s empty stadiums translate to empty rooms at local hotels 


– The age of electric cars Is dawning ahead of schedule 

– Milwaukee airport ranks ninth among mid-sized airports in satisfaction survey 


– Kenosha Common Council approves fiber optic cable development with N.J. company 


– InsideWis: Newspapers in crisis: Why their economic future matters for our democracy 


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

– ADC: Bring back whole milk in schools or children’s health will suffer

– UW-Stout: Packaging majors help move essential COVID-19 products to market