THU AM News: Morgridge Institute for Research investigates methods to control COVID-19 and next pandemic; Mitchell Airport passengers down 90 percent

— Virologists at the Morgridge Institute for Research are investigating the biology of viruses and their diseases in order to develop powerful new methods to not only control COVID-19 but stem the next pandemic. 

According to the institute, COVID-19 illustrates how viral threats are growing more common, underscoring the expanding need for more potent antiviral protections. Those protections include broad-spectrum antivirals — drugs that would inhibit a broad range of viral pathogens.

So not only are virologists thinking about how to best use science available to end the pandemic as soon as possible, but they are also predicting future viral pandemics, said Tony Gitter, an investigator at the John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Center for Research in Virology in an MIR webinar. 

“We could not predict that this would be a coronavirus that has such global effects, but virologists do expect that, under current conditions, we will see future viral pandemics emerge,” said Gitter. “So without the ability to know whether it will be influenza, coronavirus or something else, it really does demand that as virologists think about what the next steps are, (they) continue their ongoing work even in this pandemic to where those next step lead to (and) have a much broader and more general strategy for protecting ourselves against those new viral pandemics.”

Paul Ahlquist, director of the John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Center for Research in Virology, echoed Gitter’s analysis. 

“We cannot just focus on coronavirus,” he said. “Many of the other existing viruses, Ebola for example, remain very dangerous and because again, we can’t predict or advance what viruses are going to be problematic in the future.” 

Read the full story at 

— Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport passenger counts are currently down about 90 percent from a year ago.

But Mitchell Airport sees flights coming back with the advanced schedules for the next few months, said spokeswoman Pat Rowe in a Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce webinar. She added that flights are going to be demand-driven and airlines are monitoring travelers’ searches online. 

“The single most important thing that we can do in Milwaukee to get our air service thriving and growing is to choose to depart out of Milwaukee airport. Airlines add flights where people are boarding flights. If we want our airport to grow, we have to board our flights here.”

The majority of passengers at the Mitchell Airport are leisure travelers, taking advantage of the good airfares. And it’s projected that business travel will gradually increase over the coming months as offices reopen.

Mitchell is departing just over 1,000 seats a day so far in June. Officials project it to be at more than 2,000 seats by August. 

To avoid lines, Rowe says “people have learned to do the online check in.” That way, with just a carry-on bag, travelers can bypass lines and head straight to the TSA checkpoint.  

“Everywhere in the airport where people would be inclined to gather is marked out with spaces for six feet of social distance,” she said.

Other safety measures passengers: bring 12-ounce bottles of hand sanitizer, which the TSA recently allowed; and have a face mask or covering at the ready

“I can also say that across the whole travel system, there are some extremely impressive cleaning and sanitizing procedures in place,” said Rowe. “When you think of air travel you think of the airport and airline but at the other end too. There’s the rental car, hotel, Uber, and all of those industries are doing some really impressive cleaning and sanitizing. I think that people can feel very secure in the travel process and the travel experience.”

— DHS reports 483 new COVID-19 cases, the highest in the past four days, bringing the cumulative case count to 19,400. 

But the department says it’s too soon to say if the increase is due to protesting, and the case count comes as the state reports a record number of test results returned in a day.

“It is too soon to say if our case counts will increase due to protests,” a DHS spokeswoman told That’s because it takes from two to 14 days for symptoms of COVID-19 to appear.

But as part of the contact tracing routine interview, people who have COVID-19 are asked about any large gatherings they attended. 

“This question allows us to gather information on a wide-variety of large gatherings, including protests,” said the spokeswoman. 

— Despite an uptick in confirmed cases, the positive tests as a percentage of total tests yesterday fell to 2.9 percent.

That figure ties May 18 for the second-lowest percentage of positive tests returned in a day. The state’s lowest percentage of positive tests came on Sunday at 2.3 percent.

The state recorded 16,451 total tests yesterday, an all-time high that appears to exceed the state’s daily lab capacity of 15,115 tests. The state can exceed the daily lab capacity because it also uses reference labs that are not located in Wisconsin. Those are labs that receive a specimen from another laboratory and perform tests, according to a DHS spokeswoman.

To date, the state has administered over 299,000 tests; the Wisconsin National Guard responsible for administering over 92,000 of those. 

The National Guard has ongoing coronavirus testing sites statewide, supporting the state’s initiative to increase COVID-19 testing. Some 25 specimen collection teams made up of nearly 600 citizen soldiers and airmen are involved in the mobile testing sites.

Community-based testing sites are located at the Alliant Energy Center in Dane County, the Door County Justice Center, Central High School in Kenosha County, United Migrant Opportunity Services and Custer Stadium in Milwaukee County, Mt. Pleasant in Racine County and the Washington County Fairgrounds.

The Guard is conducting site-based testing in Plover in Portage County, New London in Waupaca County and at the Red Granite Correctional Institution in Waushara County.

— State deaths also rose by nine, bringing the state’s COVID-19 death toll to 616.

Milwaukee County had six new deaths while Dodge, Ozaukee and Waukesha counties each had one more. 

An estimated 64 percent of those who tested positive have recovered from COVID-19, while 3 percent of patients have died. Thirty-two percent are still in a 30-day waiting period of symptom onset or diagnosis.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (315), Racine (41), Brown (37), Waukesha (31), Kenosha (30), Dane (29), Rock (19), Walworth (17), Ozaukee (13), Grant (12), Outagamie (8), Washington (8), Winnebago (7), Fond du Lac (5), Clark (4) and Richland (4).

Dodge, Door, Jefferson, Sauk and Sheboygan counties report three deaths each. Forest and Marinette counties report two deaths each.

Adams, Bayfield, Buffalo, Burnett, Calumet, Columbia, 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: 

— DHS is currently conducting 458 facility-wide investigations across the state.

Non-health care workplace investigations account for 210 of the current investigations, followed by 170 happening in long-term care facilities.

Long-term care facilities in the state are reporting 268 deaths due to COVID-19, making up 44 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. 

Forty of the investigations are in group housing facilities including correctional facilities, homeless shelters, dormitories and group homes that have identified 33 COVID-19 deaths, or 5 percent of the state’s total. 

One hundred and fifty-three of the state’s COVID-19 deaths were not linked to group housing facilities, but 162 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. 

Nearly 20 percent of confirmed COVID-19 patients who have died in the state were over 90 years old, while over 25 percent were between 80 and 89 years old. Almost 26 percent were between 70 and 79, and about 16 percent were between 60 and 69. 

DHS is also conducting investigations in health care facilities (15) and “other settings” (23).

A majority of the investigations are taking place in Milwaukee (91), Brown (64), Racine (56) and Waukesha (39) counties.

There has been a cumulative total of 537 investigations, meaning 79 investigations have been closed.

Click here to see the facilities under investigation and a breakdown by county:

— The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is joining Gov. Tony Evers in speaking out against racism.

“We join with Governor Evers in stating that we must speak out against racism because to be silent is to be complicit,” a DHS spokeswoman told “And we also need to listen to the voices of Black Wisconsinites speaking out against oppression.”

As protests occur during the COVID-19 pandemic, DHS asks that those who protest do so safely by following protective guidelines, including maintaining a physical distance of six feet or more, wearing face coverings, washing hands and using hand sanitizer, and covering coughs and sneezes.

— COVID-19 hospital patients statewide have declined to 357, the lowest count since May 15.

Over 73 percent of those patients — 261 — are in southeastern Wisconsin, which is also seeing a downward trend.

According to data from the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the state’s COVID-19 inpatients pending tests and ICU patients are also trending down at 199 and 130 patients, respectively.

Of the state’s 19,400 confirmed cases, 14 percent have been hospitalized and 3 percent have received intensive care, according to DHS.

The department also reports that 51 or fewer patients are in each of the six other public health regions of the state.

WHA data show that statewide, Wisconsin seems to have an adequate supply of beds and ventilators. Hospitals have a total of 1,272 ventilators and 322 ventilated patients.

ICU beds immediately available in the state number 373 out of 1,487 total in Wisconsin; intermediate care beds — 168 out of 872; surgical beds — 1,287 out of 7,220; and isolation beds — beds in negative pressure rooms meant for isolating patients — 1,066 out of 1,971.

But according to data from DHS, southeastern Wisconsin only has 19 percent of its beds available.

Hospitals continue to lack PPE and the numbers have increased over last week. The WHA data show that 32 hospitals have a seven-day or less supply of face shields, 43 have a limited supply of goggles, 33 have limited N95 masks, 37 have a limited supply of gowns and 30 hospitals have limited paper medical masks.

Dr. John Raymond, president of the Medical College of Wisconsin, told a Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce briefing yesterday that goggles and gowns are the most critical needs. 

But that doesn’t mean there’s not a shortage of anything else. According to Raymond, there is still a shortage of N95 masks for frontline health care providers even with reuse and sterilization of masks. N95 masks, “the gold standard” are more effective at preventing infections.

“It’s courteous to preserve those for people that are on the frontlines,” he said. “You could argue that first responders and people in high contact industries that come into contact with people that may not be wearing masks should have one. But even a cloth face covering… do provide some level of protection for the person that wears the mask.” 


# ‘It’s Time For People To Take A Stand’: Protests Against Killing Of George Floyd Continue Across Wisconsin

# Businesses Vandalized During Police Protests: ‘We Want To Be Here’



– Finding Silver Linings From Covid-19 For Food And Agribusinesses

– Free milk for Wisconsinites from Kwik Trip and State Farm

– Insight FS Donates $10,000 to Wisconsin Dairy Recovery Program

– 413,500 Jobs Provided by Wisconsin Agriculture


– UW System President Requests Special Session To Address Funding Shortfalls

– An early start for UW campuses this fall? System leader asks state for calendar flexibility 


– Researchers Hope More Salamanders Avoided Becoming Roadkill With Fewer People Out Driving 

– DNR Looking For Deer Advisors


– Congress approves sweeping changes to PPP. Here are the details


– High number of COVID-19 hospitalizations seen in Chippewa County 

– Five Dane County nursing homes among 68 in state with COVID-19 investigations 

– Officials confirm 3 new COVID-19 cases in La Crosse County, remind protesters to wear masks and social distance 


– Racine manufacturer Marlo buys neighbor’s building to expand HQ

– Waukesha foundry with 119 employees to close; assets sold to Grede


– Conservative Group Asks Wisconsin Supreme Court To Hear Next Redistricting Lawsuit

– Milwaukee Alderman Responds To Protests


– What we know about newly extended curfews in Green Bay, Ashwaubenon 

– National Guard members protecting government buildings as city curfew continues 

– DNR Revises High Capacity Well Review Process 


– Milwaukee Film continues to plan for 2020 festival, reopening of Oriental Theatre

– How Visit Milwaukee plans to get back on track after losing $64M in convention business

– Bright lights over COVID: Communities modify July 4 plans 

– Country USA, Rock USA music festivals in Oshkosh canceled due to coronavirus 


– Coronavirus Shines Light On US Supply Chain. Here’s How Wisconsin-Based Schneider Has Been Affected

– US threatens to bar Chinese airlines

– Wisconsin’s COVID-19 stay-at-home order drove changes in state’s traffic volume 


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