FRI AM News: “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features Destination Madison president; DWD received eight layoff notices from Wisconsin companies in May

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” features Deb Archer, president and CEO of Destination Madison. 

Destination Madison’s work “changed dramatically” in early March when WIAA state basketball was cancelled. That was the beginning of calls from several special events asking to reschedule that the tourism department had to triage. 

Archer said Destination Madison also had to adjust its marketing message to “get people dreaming about what they can do when the time is right.”

“We’re really excited about some of the strategies we’re putting into place and we’re ready to rev that engine,” she said of tourism coming out of the pandemic.

Archer will also be a panelist at the 2020 Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference put on by the Wisconsin Technology Council on June 4. The virtual event will focus on COVID-19 economic survival, recovery and prosperity for young companies during a ‘new normal.’

She will be lending her expertise to entrepreneurs on what elements of the COVID-19 pandemic will remain and how companies can capitalize.

“Some new trends have been disrupted by all of this and some new opportunities are being revealed by all of this,” said Archer. She used AirBnB as an example of a popular trend that may falter because of consumer confidence in sanitary conditions.

“Some of the habits that have been revealed over this like carryout food… it’s an art form now,” she said, adding that a carryout potluck probably wouldn’t have happened before this.

Listen to the podcast, sponsored by UW-Madison: 

— DHS reports the state’s COVID-19 death toll at 550 — up 11 since the last count.

The state’s number of confirmed cases also rose — by 512 — bringing the cumulative case count to 16,974. The positive tests results account for 4.8 percent of the total tests received Thursday, down from Wednesday.

This is after the state received 10,626 test results back Thursday, the most of any day. The state’s daily lab capacity is 14,753 tests.

An estimated 61 percent of those who tested positive have recovered from COVID-19, while 3 percent of patients have died. Thirty-six percent are still in a 30-day waiting period of symptom onset or diagnosis.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (285), Brown (34), Racine (33), Waukesha (28), Dane (27), Kenosha (25), Rock (18), Walworth (16), Grant (12), Ozaukee (11), Outagamie (8), Fond du Lac (5), Clark (114285), Richland (4) and Washington (4).

Door, Jefferson, Sauk, Sheboygan and Winnebago counties report three deaths each. Marinette County reports two deaths.

Adams, Bayfield, Buffalo, Burnett, Calumet, Columbia, Dodge, Forest, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marquette, Monroe, Polk, Waupaca and Wood counties report one death each.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates:  

— Wisconsin’s coronavirus hotspots are largely located in the southeast region of the state. 

On April 23, the only counties with over 100 cases, and therefore deemed hotspots, were Milwaukee, Brown, Dane, Racine, Waukesha and Kenosha counties.

Just over a month later, Milwaukee, Brown, Racine and Kenosha counties’ case counts have soared. 

Milwaukee County has the most Wisconsin cases — 6,952 cases, for a ratio of 7.3 cases per 1,000 people. 

But based on the ratio, Brown County is the highest at 8.9 and the second highest case number for any Wisconsin county at 2,300. 

Racine County has 1,605 confirmed cases and the second highest rate of infection at 8.2, while Kenosha County has 1,088 cases and a 6.5 rate of infection.

A Kenosha County health officer told TMJ4 that on one day the county saw seven cases from bar and restaurant establishments and a 20 percent spike in cases since “Safer at Home” ended. The county had 55 new cases Thursday, its largest spike since May 1.

But DHS Secretary Andrea Palm told reporters Wednesday she “does not feel confident” attributing cases to the two-week anniversary of the “Safer at Home” extension cancellation. 

Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases echoed Palm in her reluctance to attribute spikes to the end of the stay-at-home order. 

“All cases resulted from a person being in close contact with another person who had the infection,” he said. “That’s the only thing we can say with certainty. There’s more people in the community right now that have an infection. We don’t know who those people are.”

Three-fourths or 384 of the new cases Thursday came from the southeast region of the state made up of Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties. Brown County brought in 15 new cases.

The Wisconsin National Guard has ongoing testing sites in that region. According to a release, the Guard has community-based testing sites in Racine and since May 18, it collected over 3,000 specimens from that location. In Milwaukee, it collected 12,369 specimens since May 11. At the UW-Whitewater campus in Walworth County, the Guard has collected nearly 600 specimens after two days. And it established one site Thursday at Concordia University in Ozaukee County.

— The Wisconsin Department of Health Services announced $10 million in funding for health care providers supporting the state’s most underserved communities. 

The funds are available through the federal CARES Act and will reimburse clinics for expenses resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible providers include: rural health clinics, tribal health clinics, community health centers and free and low cost clinics.

“This pandemic brings with it a myriad of challenges and clinics across the state have done an amazing job of adapting in order to continue providing high-quality care to some of our most vulnerable neighbors,” said Palm in a statement. “This funding will help alleviate some of their COVID-19 expenses.”

Applications will be accepted starting June 5 and must be submitted by June 30, according to the release.

See the release:

— COVID-19 ICU patients and inpatients with pending tests are still high in hospitals statewide, but not near surge capacity.

According to data from the Wisconsin Hospital Association, state COVID-19 patients number 408. Meanwhile, after a big spike in inpatients with pending COVID-19 tests Wednesday, that number has come down to 250. And ICU patients are still hovering at about 138 patients.

Of the state’s 16,974 confirmed cases, 14 percent have been hospitalized and 3 percent have received intensive care, according to DHS.

DHS reports that 292 of the total COVID patients are in southeastern Wisconsin, and 51 or fewer patients in each of the six other regions of the state.

And Wisconsin has an adequate supply of beds and ventilators.

WHA data reports that statewide, hospitals have a total of 1,275 ventilators and 328 ventilated patients. 

ICU beds immediately available in the state number 402 out of 1,438 total in Wisconsin; intermediate care beds — 140 out of 878; surgical beds — 1,377 out of 7,205; and isolation beds — beds in negative pressure rooms meant for isolating patients — 1,076 out of 2,034.

The WHA data shows that 29 hospitals have a seven days or less supply of face shields, 42 have a limited supply of goggles, 31 have limited N95 masks, 34 have a limited supply of gowns and 29 hospitals have limited paper medical masks.

— The state Department of Workforce Development has received eight layoff notices from companies in Wisconsin since the beginning of May, with a total of 891 affected workers. 

Earlier this week, Documentation LLC notified DWD of plans to furlough 28 employees starting June 9. According to the notice, the move comes in response to an unforeseen decline in business for the Eau Claire company due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Based on our best information at this time, Documentation expects expects these furloughs to be temporary and employees would be recalled as business returns,” said Marlin Swenson, the company’s chief financial officer, in the notice. “In the event that sales volumes do not return to previous levels in three months, furloughs of those employees not recalled will become permanent layoffs.” 

Meanwhile, BRP US Inc. told DWD on Thursday it has begun laying off employees at its Sturtevant facility and plans to cut 387 workers in total. The Quebec-based business is the parent company of Evinrude, which makes outboard boat motors. 

Already, 181 of its workers were on furlough in response to the stay-at-home order; those employees have been permanently laid off. The rest of the affected workers will be recalled from a temporary furlough but will be gradually laid off between now and September. 

Other companies submitting layoff notices hail from the western, south central, southeastern and northeast regions of the state, showing the widespread impact of the pandemic on workers and businesses. Most of the notices specifically reference the influence of COVID-19 on their layoff decisions. 

See the latest notices: 

— The latest Midwest analysis from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago documents the “major economic upheaval” caused by the coronavirus, though the report suggests the most significant impacts are in retail, leisure and hospitality, and auto industries. 

Other industries in the Midwest have seen relatively little change in employment, the analysis shows. The report cites a staffing firm that works with manufacturers, noting workers at these companies are beginning to return from furloughs. Manufacturers of building materials and heavy machinery have seen reduced orders during the pandemic, while others making packaging materials are reporting “a large increase” in demand. 

Wages actually increased overall in April and early May, as some essential businesses have been providing bonuses or raises for their workers, the report shows. 

Still, consumer spending in the region decreased sharply over the past month or so, with sales falling in nearly every category of consumer products. Furniture, apparel and electronics have seen the largest impacts. The notable exceptions are grocery stores and e-commerce. 

Looking ahead to this summer, industry representatives are expressing serious concern for entertainment, tourism and recreation, according to the report. 

Commodity prices for agricultural goods in the Midwest are falling amid the pandemic, driving farm incomes lower. At the same time, the report highlights examples of disruptions in supply chains, including dairy, meats and vegetables. 

The analysis points out that supply chain issues were most serious for meat as many packing plants in the region were forced to close due to COVID-19 outbreaks. Many have restarted operations after President Trump signed an executive order directing them to reopen or stay open, but the report notes that output is “substantially lower” than a year ago. 

Some farmers had no market for their animals and were driven to euthanize their hogs. These supply disruptions have resulted in lower prices for cattle and hogs, but have also contributed to higher prices and meat shortages and restaurants and grocery stores, the report shows. 

See a recent story on meatpacking plants in Wisconsin: 

See the report: 


# Wisconsin State Fair canceled for the first time in 75 years

# Gov. Evers: State has hired over 1,300 people to address unemployment claim problems



– Pandemic fears create a very different June Dairy Month

– To be able to put on a dairy breakfast this year, Pepin County is having one that’s drive-up and virtual

– Dean Foods fails to make Federal Order Payment

– Abbyland Foods reports three COVID cases among staff

– Four State Dairy Conference to be held virtually


– Some banks requiring customers to wear masks in lobbies


– A glimmer of good news on unemployment in Wisconsin

– GOP leaders question whether struggling businesses could still face unemployment tax increase 


– Wisconsin businesses cancel some PPP loans


– Relaxed visitor policies start June 1 for Mayo, Gundersen facilities in La Crosse area 

– 3 staff, 1 resident at Wisconsin’s 3 veterans homes test positive for COVID-19 

– Live coronavirus updates: Latinos make up one-third of Milwaukee County cases 


– Wigwam Mills cutting 121 jobs in Sheboygan 

– Cutting hundreds of jobs in Sturtevant, BRP is ceasing Evinrude production and partnering with Mercury Marine


– MMAC to move its headquarters to The Avenue


– Development community reacts to Lafayette Crump’s appointment as new DCD commissioner


– Nordstrom reopens both Wauwatosa stores amid permanent closures


– ‘It’s a big blow to us’: Wisconsin State Fair’s small vendors crushed by 2020 cancellation 


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

– U.S. Dept. of Agriculture: Invests $2M in rural water and wastewater infrastructure improvements in Wisconsin

– igNight Market: Cancelled for 2020 season, will return in 2021 

– UW-Madison: VisPy data visualization project awarded Chan Zuckerberg Initiative grant