MON AM News: COVID-19 isolation facilities served 99 people at cost of more than $1 million; Businesses taking precautions for employees, customers

— A small family-owned manufacturer in Fond du Lac has been churning out thousands of face masks in recent months and has raised more than $10,000 for the local Salvation Army through sales of these much-needed products. 

United Manufacturers Inc. was founded as an industrial sewing operation by Jeffrey and Anne Faris more than 36 years ago, and is now run by sisters Alison Faris Helleberg and Jenny Faris. They also head the other family enterprise, Faris Gourmet Popcorn and Treats, which got its start in 2010 as a high school business project created by Jenny. 

Since the start of the pandemic, the sewing business has made more than 20,000 masks and counting with assets typically used for custom contract sewing. It’s also been producing high-demand medical gowns and hazmat suits. 

“Our sewing business isn’t really a retailer, but we saw the need was there and we know how to operate an online store, so we made it happen for this crisis,” Alison said in a recent interview, noting that a portion of each mask sale is donated to charity. 

It’s just one of the Wisconsin business stories emerging from the pandemic. A recent survey offered a way for the stories to be told.

Read the full story at 

— Alison was one of 84 respondents to’s Wisconsin Business Reopening Survey, which is still accepting responses. The survey, launched in May, has collected answers from a wide array of companies, including real estate businesses, marketing firms, consultancies, restaurants, media companies, and a number of other retailers and manufacturers. 

Many respondents are small business owners, with roughly half employing fewer than five workers. While 54 respondents said they haven’t furloughed or laid off employees, 23 said they have. And 53 said they’re returning to regular hours; 13 said they won’t be; and another 12 said they’re unsure. 

Plus, 21 survey respondents said they’re offering paid sick time for workers and 52 are providing masks or other personal protective equipment to employees. And 27 said they’re screening workers for symptoms of COVID-19. 

See more survey results at 

Take the survey: 

— The isolation facilities set up in Madison and Milwaukee cost over $1 million to help 99 people, a figure that officials justify as it likely prevented further damage from COVID-19.

Both facilities opened on April 1, but are no longer operational. The Super 8 Isolation Facility in Milwaukee closed on Sunday, June 7, after serving a total 89 occupants and racking up a bill of $841,537, according to the state’s Department of Health Services. The Lowell Isolation Facility in Madison closed on May 28 after serving 10 occupants and costing $173,518.

Seventy-five percent, over $761,000, of the costs will be covered by FEMA, while at least 25 percent, over $235,000, will be covered by CARES Act funding, according to the Department of Administration.

“Honestly, I’m not going to be critical of that decision,” said Finance Committee Co-chair and Rep. John Nygren. “At the time, we didn’t know — everybody was ramping up for the worst-case scenario.”

The Marinette Republican noted that the state spends money on emergency preparedness “all the time” for events that may never occur. Nygren likened the facilities to an insurance policy — spending the money, but hoping it’s not needed.

“Thankfully, the worst-case scenario never really came,” he said.

Read the full story at 

— Wisconsin continues to see daily coronavirus case numbers hovering in the upper 900s, including three days with over 1,000 positive tests.

After breaking a new record on Tuesday with 1,117 tests and eclipsing 1,000 both Thursday and Friday, the state saw 953 positive tests on Saturday and 957 yesterday. 

Those high case counts pushed the state to its highest 7-day average for positive tests since the pandemic began at 930, up from 838 on July 19. Along with the increasing cases, the percentage of positive tests has also been increasing.

The state had a percent positive per total test average of under 5 percent throughout June. That has now increased to 7.3 percent over the last 14 days. The percentage of positive tests per total tests was 9.6 percent yesterday, according to the Department of Health Services’ data dashboard, after four days below 7 percent.

The new cases bring the cumulative case count to 48,827 and active cases to 9,946 or 20.4 percent of total cases. Active cases are defined as those still in a 30-day waiting period of symptom onset or diagnosis.

The number of recovered patients number 37,971 or 77.8 percent, while 1.8 percent of patients have died. 

The state received 9,978 total tests yesterday; Wisconsin has a capacity for 24,156 tests per day.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates:

— DHS reported 14 more COVID-19 deaths over the weekend, bringing the total to 892. 

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (427), Racine (72), Brown (50), Kenosha (50), Waukesha (43), Dane (33), Rock (25), Walworth (21), Washington (19), Ozaukee (16), Winnebago (16), Grant (14), Waupaca (14), Outagamie (12), Clark (7), Fond du Lac (6), Dodge (5), Sheboygan (5), Forest (4), Jefferson (4), Marathon (4) and Richland (4).

Barron, Door, Eau Claire, Marinette and Sauk counties report three deaths each. Adams, Buffalo, Calumet, Polk and St. Croix counties report two deaths each.

Bayfield, Burnett, Columbia, Green, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Kewaunee, LaCrosse, Langlade, Manitowoc, Marquette, Monroe, Rusk, Trempealeau and Wood counties report one death each.


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– PNC Bank closing 52 more branches, including another Milwaukee-area location 


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– SBA sets date to open PPP loan forgiveness platform  


– Milwaukee-based Circa acquires America’s Job Exchange 


– DNC says it’s committed to Milwaukee after Trump cancels in Jacksonville 


– DNR Board To Reconsider Vote After Meeting Allegations 

– Baseball Is Back: Here’s How The 2020 Season Will Look Different For The Brewers 


– Masking works, Marcus Corp. CEO Greg Marcus says 

– National Mustard Day festivities go online Saturday


– As Pandemic Keeps Workers, Students Home, Milwaukee Wants To Expand Broadband Access 


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

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