MON AM News: WEDC recognizes childcare as critical for economic development; Senate ready to ‘fight back’ on mask mandate

— As Wisconsin’s largest school districts already decide to go completely online for at least the fall, state legislators raise concern if parents will be able to go back to work.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Secretary Missy Hughes last week answered questions from lawmakers and their staff in the chat function of a virtual meeting, one of which: If schools don’t open, how will parents work?

Hughes admitted that as soon as she heard Milwaukee and Madison schools announce plans to go online, she immediately thought about the employees at WEDC. 

“We have a lot of folks with school-aged kids,” she said. “It’s an incredible challenge. It’s a challenge that we are facing nationwide.”

But Hughes said the first thing Wisconsin needs to do is stop the spread of the virus, and in the meantime, focus on working critical needs of children in with the needs of working parents. 

“I think we all have to recognize that we’re facing that challenge rather than be mad about the challenge,” she said. “Let’s recognize that we’re facing it together and try and find solutions.”

WEDC does recognize child care as part of economic development, however. 

“As we came into COVID and folks were required to be at home or there were essential workers who needed to go to work but didn’t have their regular child care because that had closed for some reason or another, we really saw that taking care of your children… is critical for being a productive human being in the economy,” Hughes said.

She told lawmakers in the briefing that manufacturers and businesses statewide have said that access to childcare is starting to strain the ability to grow. 

The Department of Children and Family Services is in the process of working with a $10 million grant received before COVID-19 to create a strategic approach to childcare in Wisconsin, according to Hughes.

“Even now, as we continue to roll forward and we understand the challenges that the schools are facing in making their decision about staying open, childcare is making those decisions also,” she said. “We need to have an approach to think about childcare.” 

— Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald suggested late last week he has the votes in his caucus to overturn Gov. Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate, saying Senate Republicans are “ready to convene the body” to end the order.

Still, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, didn’t address whether he’s willing to bring his caucus back to the Capitol to take up a joint resolution that would be needed to overturn the order.

Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, accused Evers of caving to pressure from liberal groups in issuing the order, which took effect this weekend. He also asked how lawmakers can trust that he won’t do so again and stop schools that are moving forward with in-person learning this fall.

“There are bigger issues at play here, and my caucus members stand ready to fight back,” said Fitzgerald, who’s running for Congress this fall.

Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley, D-Mason, hit back on Twitter, “What is a bigger issue than 919 Wisconsinites losing their lives to COVID-19?” She also demanded to know if Senate Republicans have a “Plan B.”

The guv’s office, for example, warned of possible consequences if Republicans overturned the order. Currently, the National Guard is conducting COVID-19 testing at various sites under a presidential order. If that federal order isn’t extended and the guv’s directive is overturned, there’d be no authority to call up the Guard to continue the testing.

“Do Senate Republicans have a Plan B? They had no plan after Safer at Home was struck down and look how well that turned out,” Bewley tweeted.

Republicans control the Senate 18-13 with two vacancies. Also, Sen. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, is currently on active duty, according to his office. Unless the Senate were to wait for his return, Fitzgerald could only lose one member for a successful vote to overturn the order.

Various Assembly Republicans issued statements expressing their opposition to the guv’s order without expressly calling for the Legislature to come back for a vote on the directive.

However, Rep. Adam Neylon, R-Pewaukee, called on leadership to schedule a vote on the issue, and Rep. Jeremy Thiesfeldt, R-Fond du Lac, said he stands “ready to convene a legislative session to preserve local control and personal healthcare decisions.”.

Multiple Assembly GOP sources said the caucus was split about how to proceed on the guv’s mandate.

“The people of Wisconsin deserve to have their freedom and liberty protected at all costs. We must stop this dangerous power grab. If we don’t, I fear what this Governor will do next,” Neylon said.

See Fitzgerald’s statement:

See Bewley’s tweet:

See more reaction in the press release section:

— COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state number 354, according to data from the Wisconsin Hospital Association. COVID-19 ICU patients account for 110 of those.

This is after several days of no reporting due to federally mandated changes in how data is reported. WHA notes that data reported July 30 and forward accurately reflects the new reporting requirements.

WHA reports over 59 percent of Wisconsin’s total patients — 210 — are in southeastern Wisconsin, and 42 or fewer patients are in each of the six other public health regions of the state.

Health care workers account for about 8 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases at 4,570 — 909 more cases in two weeks.

See the WHA hospital dashboard here: 

— DHS Secretary Andrea Palm said COVID-19 activity data shows Wisconsin is in a more serious situation now than a month ago, or even when Gov. Tony Evers declared a public health emergency in March.

Sixty-one Wisconsin counties are ranked high by DHS for COVID-19 activity, three more than last week. Only two counties are reporting a low level of COVID-19. Only three counties indicate a decrease in their cases, but all of those have started from a high activity level. 

“Wisconsin is seeing significant community spread,” Palm said. “COVID-19 is widespread enough that interacting in community is all that it takes to expose you to the virus.”

She reminded viewers in a DHS briefing that individuals can be contagious without ever developing symptoms at all. 

“The likelihood of people transmitting and catching COVID-19 in the community is high unless everyone takes precautions together,” Palm said.

The Fox Valley Area and Northwest Healthcare Emergency Readiness Coalition regions of Wisconsin are also labeled as both having a high case burden and a growing trajectory.

DHS reports that health officers say they are using the currently posted case activity metrics for a variety of local decision-making scenarios, including school decisions.

The department solicited feedback from local and tribal health departments during the development of the activity level dashboard. It has not formally asked for feedback now that the dashboard is on the DHS website. 

— DHS reported 1,062 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday and 922 cases yesterday, bringing the state’s seven-day daily case average to 871. 

The percentage of positive tests per total tests was 9.6 percent yesterday, up from 7.1 percent Saturday, according to DHS’ figures.

The new cases bring the cumulative case count to 54,924 and active cases to 9,994 or 18.2 percent of the state’s total confirmed 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 43,964 or 80.1 percent of the state’s total confirmed cases, a rising percentage. Meanwhile 1.7 percent of patients have died. Patients have a 8.6 percent chance of being hospitalized. 

The state received 9,643 total tests yesterday; Wisconsin has a capacity for 24,156 tests per day. 

— DHS also reported 14 COVID-19 deaths over the weekend, bringing the state’s death toll to 948.  

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (446), Racine (76), Waukesha (55), Kenosha (53), Brown (51), Dane (37), Rock (26), Washington (22), Walworth (21), Ozaukee (17), Winnebago (17), Waupaca (15), Grant (14), Outagamie (13), Clark (7), Fond du Lac (6), Marathon (6), Dodge (5), Jefferson (5), Sheboygan (5), Forest (4) and Richland (4).

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

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

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates: 


# Leinenkugel’s to retire logo featuring Native American woman

# Noah’s Ark Waterpark To Close Until Further Notice

# Liberal Justice Jill Karofsky Sworn Into Wisconsin Supreme Court

# Cost of Farming Went Up in Wisconsin Last Year

# Private labels key to driving Wisconsin dairy demand 



– Landmark, Countryside Cooperatives move forward with merger 

– Wisconsin’s direct farmer relief payments sent to all but two counties 

– Wisconsin farmers, food processor donate 10,000 pounds of beef 

– Broker says watch for market opportunities to move soybeans, empty bins 

–  Grant, Dane Counties Received Most Farm Support Funding 


– UW Madison Dining Changes this Fall 


– ‘Another Body Blow’ To State’s Economy As Extra $600 In Unemployment Benefits End 


– Report Shows Inequality Among Jobs Widening During Pandemic 


– Sea of white cops doesn’t reflect diversity of communities, Midwest analysis shows 


– Hiring 400 people, expanding production, Generac’s standby generator business booms as consumers spend more time at home 

– Johnson Controls sales decline 17%, launches new virtual platform


– Milwaukee sets deadline for restaurants, bars that want indoor service without limits 

– ‘We’re all in this together’: State Street merchants, city seek a new normal 


– Brewers home opener postponed after two Cardinals players test positive for COVID-19 

– Bucks reopening pro shop at Fiserv Forum; Packers to reopen Lambeau and Titletown District 

– Life In The NBA Bubble: Bucks To Resume Title Quest Amid Pandemic 


– The economy is in record decline, but not for the tech giants 


– Milwaukee hotel occupancy inching closer to 50%, under national average 

– Racine Art Museum to reopen next week 

– Staying top of mind is key for Marcus Corp.: Q&A with Greg Marcus 

– Wisconsin’s largest drive-thru offers up State Fair staples 

– Dane County Farmers’ Market opens for in-person shopping with stepped up safety measures 


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

– U.S. Dept. of Agriculture: WI monthly prices 

– U.S. Dept. of Agriculture: WI milk prices 

– Dept. of Revenue: Posts 2020 preliminary equalized values 

– Alliant Energy: Foundation provides $2,500 grant to Tomorrow’s Home Foundation 

– Rep. Felzkowski: Calls for special session to overturn mask mandate