FRI AM News: Gud Medical offers less expensive yet precise IV tool to medical world; WisBusiness: The Podcast features Abigail Wuest, Goods Unite Us

— Madison-based Gud Medical is striving to be a leader in precisely delivering medicine and intravenous fluids. And its syringe adapter could get a boost from the coronavirus crisis as researchers tap into former COVID patients for antibodies.

In hospitals across the world, there is a common theme: people and trauma. In urgent cases, intravenous or “IV” compound medications are often used in order to help people and deliver essential medicines.

Intravenous technologies are even used in non-hospital circumstances such as in research, dentistry and veterinary applications. When it comes to blood samples, mixing medications, or dosing medication, IV is the “go-to” method.

Gud Medical was co-founded in early 2020 by Joseph Ulbrich and Dr. Robert Radwin. According to Ulbrich, the idea was brainstormed when a contract research organization reached out to his biomedical engineering class at UW-Madison. Together, they collaborated to make the ErgoExact-50 syringe adapter.

In the age of COVID-19, blood transfusions are being collected from people who have recovered from the disease. IV methods are being used to collect plasma hundreds of times a day. From the plasma collected researchers can see what antibodies are present. One competitor, BD Vacutainer, has a common device that separates plasma often used for drawing a volume of blood. If a shortage of Vacutainer tubes occurs, then the ErgoExact device can be used. The antibodies from blood can help with immunology and virology testing.

Company leaders predict increased demand for the ErgoExact-50 over the next six months or so, to accommodate testing for antibodies in recovered COVID-19 patients.

Read the full story at 

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features Abigail Wuest, co-founder and CEO of Goods Unite Us, a website and mobile app that allows users to see a brand’s politics and be more informed about corporate money in politics.

Goods Unite Us’ mission is to provide consumers and voters accountability and transparency around corporate money in politics and protecting the vote.  

“One of the results we would like to see is corporations thinking twice about engaging in politics and hopefully then kind of reducing the overall amount of corporate money in politics,” said Wuest. “We also just really want voters to keep from inadvertently supporting political candidates that they don’t like through their daily purchases.” 

Goods Unite Us also added a list of companies to its site that are making hand sanitizer, masks and other personal protective equipment as well as providing additional employee benefits to encourage companies to do good.

“In this time where we’re not Democrats and Republicans we’re just humans and we’re all dealing with this unprecedented health crisis, we wanted to highlight companies that were rising to that challenge, coming together, putting politics aside and just helping humanity,” she said.

Listen to the podcast, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

— DWD says the state missed out on about $25 million in federal funding to cover unemployment claims, because the GOP-led Legislature took too long to approve a COVID-19 bill suspending a one-week waiting period before those who lose their jobs can receive a check.

The Department of Workforce Development detailed the missed federal money as it announced the unemployment insurance trust fund could be tapped out by Oct. 11 if weekly unemployment rates continue at their current clip.

The president on March 27 signed the CARES Act, which included additional federal assistance for state unemployment insurance programs. That included full reimbursement of a worker’s first week of unemployment so long as states didn’t require a waiting week.

The Assembly passed the bill April 14 with the Senate following suit the next day. Gov. Tony Evers then signed the bill on the afternoon of April 15.

DWD spokesman Ben Judd said the federal government informed the state it wouldn’t pay for two weeks of unemployment claims for those who no longer had to wait a week before receiving the benefit because the suspension hadn’t been approved earlier. Instead, DWD will use state money to cover those two weeks, amounting to about $25 million.

“We will be covering that one-week wait,” Judd said. “It will just be coming out of the trust fund.”

Kit Beyer, a spokeswoman for Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, said the Legislature intended for the first-week payments to be retroactive when it approved suspending the one-week waiting period. It believed the feds would reimburse the state if the one-week waiting period was eliminated and the state had an agreement in place with the federal government by March 29. 

But DWD provided a section of an email from the U.S. Department of Labor informing Wisconsin states can’t enter into such an agreement until state law is in effect waiving the one-week waiting period. The Labor Department said for Wisconsin, that began the week of April 19, well after the march 29 deadline.

Judd said the agency has still sought reimbursement from the feds, but has been denied.

“What’s important here is that people are getting the money they need during the first week of unemployment,” Beyer said. 

— The announcement of the lost fed money comes as DWD laid out when the state may need to begin borrowing money to cover unemployment claims.

The unemployment trust fund had a balance of nearly $1.9 billion earlier this week. But DWD said the program is “experiencing unprecedented claim volume” at more than 300,000 per week. That’s 194 percent higher than during the first year of the “Great Recession” a decade ago.

If that pace continues, the fund would run out of money on Oct. 11, forcing the state to borrow from the federal government to pay benefits.

If it drops to 200,000 weekly claims, the fund would be exhausted Jan. 21. If it goes down to 100,000, the fund would run out of money Sept. 19, 2021.

Still, DWD spokesman Tyler Tichenor said the agency expects it would be able to borrow federal funds to continue paying the benefits if the existing state balance is exhausted.

“But in the event that the Trust Fund does go negative, we will borrow from the federal government, as we did during the Great Recession, so much needed UI benefits continue to make it into the hands of working people and families,” he said in an email.

See the release:

— A recent study from UW-Madison researchers suggests people with allergies and asthma may have some protection from COVID-19 infections due to decreased expression of a certain gene. 

Dan Jackson is the study’s lead investigator and associate professor of pediatrics and medicine at UW School of Medicine and Public Health. He explained that early data from China and New York studies showed that asthma isn’t a major risk factor for severe cases of COVID-19, defying initial expectations. 

Those findings led scientists in Madison to explore the connection between COVID-19 and these other respiratory conditions. In a recent interview, Jackson noted that other conditions that are risk factors for COVID-19 — including hypertension, obesity and diabetes — are all associated with increased expression of the ACE2 gene. 

“So we thought that we should look to see if allergy or asthma was associated with [ACE2] receptor expression,” he said. 

They found that both respiratory allergies and allergic asthma were linked to reduced expression of that gene, with moderate and high levels of allergy associated with “progressively greater reductions in ACE2 expression,” according to a release from the university. That suggests these conditions might offer some protective benefit for COVID-19 patients. 

The study mostly included children, but Jackson noted the biological interaction described in the study “should be present whether you’re a child or adult with respiratory allergies or allergic asthma.” 

Allergic asthma is the most common type of asthma, characterized by the presence of asthma and respiratory allergies simultaneously. But Jackson added that people with asthma but no respiratory allergies wouldn’t see the same protection as those with allergic asthma. 

Jackson said the broad goals of his study and related research include identifying risk factors as well as protective factors to help public health officials determine which patients are in greatest danger. At the same time, he stressed the importance of understanding how the virus interacts with the immune system “as we seek new therapeutic approaches.” 

See the full study: 

— Long-term care facilities in the state are reporting 146 deaths due to COVID-19, making up 39 percent of total deaths in Wisconsin due to the virus. 

These include nursing homes and assisted living facilities, such as community-based residential facilities and residential care apartment complexes. Group housing facilities including correctional facilities, homeless shelters, dormitories and group homes have identified 11 COVID-19 deaths, or 3 percent of the state’s total. 

Ninety of the state’s COVID-19 deaths were not linked to group housing facilities, but more than a third of virus deaths in Wisconsin — or 127 deaths — are categorized as “unknown,” meaning they may or may not have occurred at these facilities. 

According to DHS, the unknown category exists because relevant information has only been collected since April 8. 

Almost 17 percent of confirmed COVID-19 patients who have died in the state were over 90 years old, while another 24 percent were between 80 and 89 years old. Another 29 percent were between 70 and 79, and 15 percent were between 60 and 69. 

— DHS reports the state’s COVID-19 death toll at 374 — up 12 people from the previous count.

In addition, confirmed cases rose 314 since Wednesday. That brings the total number of confirmed cases to 9,215. A majority of the new cases came from Milwaukee (104) and Brown (53) counties.

DHS’s hospital dashboard also reports 335 COVID patients in hospitals statewide, an increase of 36 patients since Wednesday, and 24 less than last Thursday’s number of 359 patients.

But Wisconsin’s share of positive cases per number of total tests is on a steady decline after its peak on Friday. The numbers show 12.7 percent of total tests came back positive on Friday, followed by Saturday (10.3), Sunday (11.1), Monday (9.9), Tuesday (8.6), Wednesday (8.4) and Thursday (5.7). 

Of the state’s 9,215 cumulative confirmed cases, an estimated 49 percent have recovered from COVID-19. 

That’s based on the number of confirmed cases who have at least documentation of resolved symptoms, documentation of release from public health isolation or 30 days since symptom onset or diagnosis. Forty-seven percent of patients are still in that 30-day period.

Of the state’s confirmed cases, 19 percent were hospitalized, 5 percent received intensive care and 4 percent have died, according to DHS.

Counties reporting deaths include Milwaukee (212), Dane (22), Waukesha (22), Racine (16), Kenosha (14), Brown (12), Rock (12), Ozaukee (9), Walworth (9), Grant (7), Clark (4) and Washington (4). 

Door, Fond du Lac and Sauk counties report three deaths each.

Outagamie, Richland and Sheboygan counties report two deaths each.

Adams, Bayfield, Buffalo, Columbia, Dodge, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marinette, Marquette, Monroe, Waupaca and Winnebago counties report one death each.

Sixty-eight of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have confirmed cases. 

Click here for coronavirus resources and information: 

— DHS is conducting 235 facility-wide investigations for COVID-19. Forty-eight were added this week.

The southeastern part of the state accounts for 135 of those. Counties with the most investigations include Milwaukee (56), Brown (31), Dane (22), Kenosha (22), Racine (21) and Waukesha (20).

One hundred and twenty-three of the investigations are in long-term care facilities where residents account for 6 percent of COVID-19 confirmed cases. 

Group housing facilities such as correctional facilities, homeless shelters, dormitories and group homes account for 22 of those 235 investigations. Four percent of confirmed cases were tied to group housing facilities. 

Forty-three percent of confirmed cases and 34 deaths are unknown to be in long-term or group housing facilities.

Nine investigations are in health care facilities, 75 in work settings and six are listed as “other.”

— Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce says its analysis of the Evers administration’s benchmarks on COVID-19 show the state has met the criteria to begin reopening the state’s economy.

But the Department of Health Services’ website yesterday showed only one of the six criteria Evers laid out is currently being met. The data needed to judge two of the six criteria– on hospitals’ capacity and their ability to test all symptomatic staff — won’t be available until today.

WMC argued in its analysis that the metric on capacity is already being met because hospitals aren’t being overwhelmed by patients with 3,635 beds currently available across the state.

It also pointed to the number of health care workers reported having experienced symptoms or having tested positive for COVID-19 and the general increase in testing capacity statewide in saying the “this metric has certainly been met.”

Asked for a response, an Evers spokesman pointed to the DHS website detailing the metrics. The only requirement listed as met is the requirement for a downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses reported within a 14-day period.

See the WMC release:

See the DHS website:

— The state’s total testing capacity has reached 14,797 tests per day or over 103,000 tests per week, exceeding Evers’ goal of 85,000 tests per week. 

However, only about 5,523 tests came back yesterday with results, but that’s the most yet for a single day.

The DHS website now displays a map with current COVID-19 community testing sites in Wisconsin. There are 13 community testing sites located in Ashland, Brown, Clark, Douglas, Eau Claire, Milwaukee, Outagamie, Racine, Rusk, Sauk and St. Croix counties. 

And Wisconsin appears to have an adequate supply of beds and ventilators.

ICU beds immediately available in the state number 425 out of 1,446 total in Wisconsin; intermediate care beds — 213 out of 878; surgical beds — 1,826 out of 7,191; and isolation beds — beds in negative pressure rooms meant for isolating patients — 1,178 out of 1,961.

Statewide, hospitals have a total of 1,262 ventilators and are using 325 of those for patients.

But PPE supplies are still lagging. Thirty-eight hospitals in the state have a seven days or less supply of N95 masks, 43 have limited supply of gowns and 34 hospitals have limited paper medical masks.

— The Wisconsin Technology Council will host UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank today as part of its continuing webinar series, “Crossing the Coronavirus Chasm.”

Blank, an economist, has been UW-Madison’s chancellor for six years. She’ll present on how a top research university responds to societal crises such as the current pandemic. 

UW-Madison has assembled public-private partnerships of scientists, researchers and experts to address COVID-19 including work on developing treatments and a vaccine, keeping vulnerable popuatlations safe and educating health care professionals to stay ahead of the pandemic. 

“We’re excited that Chancellor Blank can join us to discuss the many ways the UW-Madison is contributing to the effort to contain and control the COVID-19 epidemic, as well as the next threat that may face us,” Tech Council President Tom Still said in a statement.

Register for today’s event:


# State unemployment fund could be depleted by October, GOP adds pressure to reopen economy

# Startup Wisconsin survey: Startups struggle to obtain federal COVID-19 relief funds



– Cherry production was off during past growing season

– Fish farms seek renewal of permits to operate in public waters


– DWD: State unemployment fund could be depleted by October

– How fewer tax collections could affect local services


– ‘To ensure the survival’ of universities, UW System president calls for further restructuring

– Wisconsin schools surpass 1 million meals served to students

– The Latest: UW regents waive test score requirements


– Advocate Aurora unveils plan to regain patient confidence as facilities resume elective procedures

– Aurora Health Care resumes some procedures, assures patients of ‘safe care’

– Milwaukee leaders say city has ‘at least hit an equilibrium with COVID-19’


– Associated Banc-Corp to sell insurance agency


– Acting label removed as Jochen Zeitz named president and CEO of Harley-Davidson

– Harley-Davidson appoints Jochen Zeitz president and CEO


– 67 got COVID-19 after visiting polls in state’s April 7 election but tie to voting unclear

– Wisconsin lost out on $25M in federal funding because GOP lawmakers waited to pass coronavirus relief bill

– Baldwin calls out meat processors for unsafe working conditions


– Stone Creek Coffee rolls out reopening plan

– Kohl’s reopening stores in 10 more states

– Kohl’s to reopen about 25% of store portfolio as of Monday

– Badger State, Noble Roots release ‘All Together’ beer to raise money for Green Bay hospitality businesses


– Madison Mallards’ opening to Northwoods League season postponed indefinitely


– Yabuki stepping down as CEO of Fiserv; Former First Data chief taking reins


– On the level: Udelhofen sees bright future for solar, wind industries amid pandemic


– Viewpoint: Is there a patient in the house? Hospitals eager to get back to normal


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