MON AM News: FixdPicks uses AI for ROI transparency in sports betting; Testing material supply chains remain unstable, public health expert warns

— A Wisconsin startup called FixdPicks is looking to bring artificial intelligence to sports betting.

Founder Zach Nichols came across the idea for the new company when he was working on some code and saw that the algorithm was predicting the outcomes of NBA games with a high level of accuracy. Using this code, he and the team created FixdPicks.

FixdPicks offers a subscription service allowing subscribers access to the picks the algorithm believes will win. The AI can comb through many more data points than the traditional expert and can therefore predict the winning teams better than any individual person can, according to Nichols. 

Part of what allows the AI to be so effective, he said, is that it takes out the error of human emotion.

While many people want to go with their “gut feeling” or favorite team, FixdPicks is offering the opportunity for people to be a little smarter with their money and play the stats, he said.

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— DWD is adding new call centers and expanding staff and hours to answer questions from unemployed Wisconsinites seeking help during the economic fallout from COVID-19.

The state also has transferred 243 employees to handle calls from laid off Wisconsin workers and is in the process of hiring another 315.

The combined impact of the moves will jump the number of staff handling unemployment claims from less than 50 before the pandemic to more than 1,300.

This comes as GOP lawmakers have been critical of the agency for not moving more quickly to address the frustrations of laid-off constituents who have had difficulty reaching DWD.

Last month, the agency projected Wisconsin’s unemployment rate was around 27 percent due to the impact of the coronavirus, and DWD reported nearly 5.4 million calls the week of May 3 alone.

“I’m incredibly appreciative and excited for the additional assistance our UI Division is getting from other DWD divisions, state agencies, and vendors,” agency Secretary Caleb Frostman said in a statement released to “We need all hands on deck to help the people of Wisconsin get the resources and financial support they need during the pandemic.”

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— Supply chains for COVID-19 testing supplies used in Wisconsin “remain a concern,” according to Medical College of Wisconsin President Dr. John Raymond. 

During a recent webinar hosted by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and the Regional Leadership Council, he noted that reagents and swabs used in one of the common tests for the virus depend on international supply chains. 

At one point, nearly half of the world’s supply of nasal swabs for the test were produced in northern Italy, he explained, but that was one of the hardest-hit places in the world by COVID-19. 

“We’re going to have to rethink supply chains really for everything,” he said. “We got used to a just-in-time international supply chain, and we’re probably going to have to rethink that kind of thing.” 

Also on the webinar, North Shore Health Department Health Director Ann Christiansen detailed the positive impact on case numbers from the last two months of the stay-at-home order being in place. 

Both of the public health experts said they’re watching for a surge or “secondary wave” of new cases as state economies begin to reopen. 

“Irregardless of the Supreme Court decision, our focus is still on that phased-in approach,” Christiansen said. “We continue to want to use data to know where we are with regard to the spread of COVID-19 as well as with regard to the hospital system’s capacity to manage those cases.” 

Christiansen and Raymond encouraged listeners to maintain social distancing, wear face coverings, keep washing their hands and clean frequently. 

“Remember that COVID-19 is stealthy and virulent, and it continues to live around us,” Raymond said. “We should not let down our guard.” 

— DHS reports the state’s COVID-19 death toll at 453 — up eight from Friday’s count. 

The state’s number of confirmed cases rose 858 since Friday, bringing the cumulative confirmed case count to 12,543. 

An estimated 54 percent have recovered from COVID-19, while 4 percent of patients have died. Forty-two percent are still in a 30-day waiting period of symptom onset or diagnosis.

DHS’s hospital dashboard also reports 361 COVID patients in hospitals statewide. 

Of the state’s confirmed cases, 16 percent have been hospitalized and 4 percent received intensive care, according to DHS.

Counties reporting deaths include Milwaukee (252), Waukesha (23), Dane (25), Brown (22), Kenosha (18), Racine (18), Rock (14), Walworth (12), Ozaukee (11), Grant (10), Clark (4), Outagamie (4) and Washington (4). 

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

Jefferson and Marinette counties report two deaths each.

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

Seventy of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have confirmed cases. Only Langlade and Taylor counties haven’t reported any cases yet. 

— Long-term care facilities in the state are reporting 195 deaths due to COVID-19, making up 43 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 18 COVID-19 deaths, or 4 percent of the state’s total. 

One hundred and fourteen of the state’s COVID-19 deaths were not linked to group housing facilities, but nearly a third of virus deaths in Wisconsin — or 126 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. 

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— After an unprecedented flurry of lobbying fueled by the COVID-19 outbreak, lobbyists say they don’t expect their efforts to subside anytime soon.

And if lobbyist interest in the first coronavirus relief package is any indication, interest group activity could be even higher the next time around. When the Legislature next meets, however, is unclear given the virus and reelection campaigns. reported last month a more than four-and-a-half-fold increase in lobbying ahead Evers signing an emergency coronavirus response package into law on April 15. 

But that didn’t capture all lobbying on the legislation. For one, the Ethics Commission allows a 15-day window from the first lobbying communication on a bill for filings to be submitted. Those reports also don’t disclose hours or money spent on lobbying — details often reported in the twice-a-year lobbying reports.

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# Dohmen pivots food delivery services to provide COVID-19 relief

# Some Wisconsin counties, cities rescind local stay-at-home orders

# Rising meat prices slamming Midwest business, consumers

# Dark stores: Janesville Mall weathers COVID-19 shutdown



– Wisconsin farmland values trending lower from last year


– Waukesha State Bank accepts offer on 131-acre parcel in Port Washington


– Top Evers official says Wisconsin businesses need to reopen safely and responsibly

– Wisconsin small-town Chambers of Commerce seek volunteers

– Some local governments in Wisconsin drop stay-at-home orders


– Drive-in movie theater opening at Ballpark Commons in Franklin


– Attorneys: Local stay-at-home orders on shaky legal ground


– During quarantine, pollsters see heightened interest


– Joel Brennan says State Fair facility was a ‘necessary expenditure’ even if it’s never used

– Yerkes Observatory restoration kicks off soon after property donated to foundation

– ‘Nothing to buy’: Madison home sellers balk over pandemic


– Milwaukee opens salons, gyms. Bars, restaurants remain closed

– Check-off assessments on disposed milk to be lifted


– Goodwill reopens most Wisconsin stores, donation centers

– See stores reopen, customers return to The Corners in Brookfield


– City of Milwaukee to provide grants to help small businesses restart


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