FRI AM News: WisBusiness: The Podcast features Shree Kalluri, Zerology; Waukesha County Exec advocates for tiered approach to reopen state’s economy

— This week’s episode of “WisBusiness: The Podcast” is with Shree Kalluri, founder and CEO of Zerology, a Madison-based startup looking to provide eco-friendly transportation through a car sharing app.

Currently, the app allows apartment residents who may not own a vehicle to rent an electric car to use for a few hours or a few days. 

“The whole goal is to reduce the carbon footprint that we are creating,” said Kalluri. “Every car we are putting in can become a better car tomorrow or next year.” 

He added that most of the personal cars only continue to add emissions over time.

Also on the podcast, Kalluri shares his story donating 16,000 KN95 masks to Wisconsin law enforcement statewide. See more below.

“I am motivated by social impact and doing good,” he said. “This is my contribution to seeing a better tomorrow, this is a day and time when all of us need to step up and be better citizens and that is what I was doing, I’m trying to do my share of it.”

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— Zerology founder and CEO Shree Kalluri announced plans to donate 16,000 KN95 masks to law enforcement. 

“I saw a need and wanted to help,” Kalluri said in a statement. “In a time like this, we need our law enforcement to be safe and able to respond to calls.”

The masks will be donated to all law enforcement in Wisconsin. 

“With the CDC saying law enforcement should wear protective masks, and the chance that some communities could have problems making that happen, I got to work on a solution,” he said.

Zerology, which owns Green Cab Madison, is also supplying its drivers with masks while they provide transportation and food delivery service.

See the release:

— Wisconsin deaths have reached 197 as a result of COVID-19, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. And state health officials are unsure if Wisconsin has hit peak.

“We won’t know for sure until there is a decline of cases,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases. “Right now it’s a flat curve, which is a sign of success.” 

But he added there’s still not a downward trend.

The 197 total is 15 more deaths statewide and 154 new confirmed cases, which result in a cumulative case count of 3,875. Of those confirmed cases, 29 percent have been hospitalized, according to DHS.

DHS’s hospital dashboard reports 394 COVID patients in hospitals statewide and 147 of those are ICU COVID patients. 

Counties reporting the most deaths are Milwaukee (114), Dane (16), Waukesha (11), Ozaukee (9) and Racine (6). 

Kenosha County reports five deaths. Rock County reports four deaths. Fond du Lac, Sauk, Walworth and Washington counties report three deaths each.

Outagami and Sheboygan counties report two deaths each.

Adams, Brown, Buffalo, Columbia, Dodge, Door, Grant, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Kewaunee, Marathon, Marinette, Richland, Waupaca and Winnebago counties report one death each.

Twenty percent of patients who have tested positive for coronavirus are between the ages of 50-59. This is followed by people 60-69 (17 percent) and 40-49 (16 percent).

Over 94 percent of patients who die from COVID-19 are over the age of 50. 

In Wisconsin, women make up 53 percent of the confirmed cases, but account for 40 percent of deaths. Meanwhile, men make up 47 percent of confirmed cases, but account for 60 percent of the total deaths. 

The African American community makes up 25 percent of the state’s confirmed cases, but account for 39 percent of deaths due to COVID-19. 

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— Gov. Tony Evers announced he has ordered DHS Secretary Andrea Palm to extend his stay-at-home order another month to May 26, though with some easing of past restrictions to allow certain activities to start up again.

That includes allowing public libraries to provide curbside pickup and golf courses to open with some restrictions on scheduling and paying for tee times online or by phone only.

In a DHS press call, Evers said that “things won’t get back to normal” until there is a vaccine for COVID-19. “And even then our new normal won’t be the same as our old normal.” 

The guv also announced that he joined a coalition of governors from Minnesota, Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana to work in close coordination to reopen the economy.

Evers said for the state to reopen, a “massive expansion” of testing capacity is needed plus more PPE and contact tracing; he said all the coalition states agree.

But the states are not locked into the same timelines, said Evers.

“Detroit looks a lot different than northern Wisconsin,” he said. “The important thing is we have industries that span all those states… so we will be able to learn a lot from each other and help us once we do get to the point of reducing the impositions on people.” 

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— Wisconsin has seen 167 deaths due to influenza since October 1 or the start of the 2019-2020 influenza season according to the state’s Department of Health Services. But COVID-19 is still dubbed the “more dangerous virus.” 

“COVID-19 is a more dangerous virus,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases, in a DHS Facebook Live update. “While influenza circulates all the time, many people have partial immunity and most people got the seasonal influenza vaccine.”

Based on data from DHS, influenza’s peak took place in late February and early March. 

“Right now influenza seems to be going away,” he said.

The flu is a respiratory virus similar to COVID-19, but not as contagious. Although the viruses spread similarly, there is more protection for influenza, such as a vaccine, that puts a ceiling on how many people are expected to get sick, according to Westergaard.

“What’s different about the coronavirus pandemic is that nobody has been exposed to it in the past,” he said. He added that the risk is that COVID-19 can spread rapidly and exponentially through a population.

Westergaard noted that COVID-19 can cause millions to become ill with hundreds needing ICU care.

“That’s not the case with influenza,” Westergaard continued. “We see a peak every year, but it’s usually in the same ballpark we’re prepared for” — and that healthcare has capacity for.

“Our main strategy for how to prevent it is to do physical distancing,” he said. “The alternative could be a really dangerous situation.”

— Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow is advocating for a tiered approach to reopening Wisconsin’s economy based on varying local factors. 

In a webinar hosted by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Farrow noted that Waukesha County has a “totally different impact” from COVID-19 than Milwaukee County. 

“Look at northern Wisconsin — very few cases up there, very few new cases up there. Should we be developing a system that looks at the entire state as one equalized point?” the former Republican lawmaker said. “Or … should we start looking at a graduated system that can look at the metrics?” 

He called for the creation of a system breaking down impact areas by potential severity based on testing rates, case tracking, amount of PPE equipment and hospital occupancy rates. 

During yesterday’s call, he noted over 90 percent of the businesses in the county have fewer than 100 employees and most are considered small businesses. 

He said a number of these companies, especially manufacturers, have been able to “re-tool” to help with personal protective equipment production. Still, he said a “large number” of these companies have closed already, and expressed concern with extending the current stay-at-home order. 

After Gov. Tony Evers announced the order would be extended through May 26, Farrow said he expects “more and more businesses” closing their doors with no hope of reopening. 

“For a county that had 2.6 percent unemployment, I’m really shuddering to see what our rate is going to be at,” he said. 

— The state’s unemployment rate was logged at 3.4 percent in March, but the latest federal figures released by the state DWD don’t capture the effect of the coronavirus outbreak on employment.

That’s because the latest monthly survey was conducted before COVID-19 had impacted the state’s economy. The unemployment rate is expected to increase dramatically, as unemployment insurance claims have been flooding the Department of Workforce Development.

Claim numbers have started to drop off from their recent peak but are still well above previous years with thousands of claims coming in every day.

See the release:


# MMAC president urges phased restart of state’s economy

# Wisconsin guidelines on ventilator use still under review

# Wisconsin businesses still waiting on help as federal program runs dry



– Sargento Foods donating 15.8 million cheese sticks to Milwaukee-based Hunger Task Force and Feeding America

– Dairy Innovation Hub takes COVID-19 related questions, offers resources page

– Sale barns, processors trying to adjust to changing times

– Dairy recovery effort aims to feed Wisconsinites, benefit farmers

– Smithfield closing Wisconsin plant for two weeks


– Wisconsin bankers call for additional funding for small business loan program

– Wisconsin Bankers Association calls for additional Paycheck Protection Program funds


– Milwaukee Athletic Club redevelopment could drop hotel for other uses due to coronavirus


– Gov. Tony Evers’ extension of ‘safer at home’ order through May eases some restrictions


– With K-12 children at home, Wisconsin undergrads team up on virtual tutoring

– UW Regents open door to employee furloughs


– Smithfield Foods to close Patrick Cudahy plant for two weeks


– Medical College CEO Raymond’s checklist for a ‘smart restart’ of Wisconsin’s economy

– MMAC’s Sheehy calls Gov. Evers’ Safer at Home extension premature, seeks flexibility

– Gov. Tony Evers extends safer-at-home order

– Health leaders to host virtual support group for black men concerned about COVID-19


– Businesses, insurers at odds over COVID-19 business interruption claims


– State party chairs discuss options for May 12 election

– Evers extends Safer at Home until May 26

– Sen. Baldwin wants support for cranberry growers, too


– Kwik Trip plans to build its first store in Whitewater


– Schlesinger: Brewers trying to plan for a season with no start date

– Gov. Evers extends Safer at Home to May 26, allows some businesses to reopen, including golf courses

– WIAA to discuss fate of spring sports next week


– VISIT Milwaukee: Canceled events amount to $47 million in lost economic impact

– State tourism industry looks to capitalize on second half of the year


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