THU AM News: Tourism industry scrambles to adjust to million dollar losses due to COVID; Gyld provides networking platform for skilled trades

— Gov. Tony Evers is slamming a state Supreme Court ruling overturning his administration’s latest stay-at-home order.

The guv told reporters the state was making good progress in managing COVID-19, but the GOP lawsuit leading to the order undercut that work.

“Today, Republican legislators convinced four members of the Supreme Court to throw the state into chaos,” Evers said yesterday evening.

He added, “Republicans own that chaos.”

Evers again said GOP legislative leaders haven’t provided a plan on how they would deal with COVID-19. He said the administration tomorrow will issue the framework of an emergency rule to put new regulations in place. But he cautioned that process wouldn’t be quick.

During oral arguments before the court last week, a GOP attorney estimated it would take 12 days to draft an emergency rule and put it in place. Lawmakers then have oversight of the rule once it’s published.

“This isn’t going to be an overnight thing and in the meantime, we’re going to have 72 counties doing their own thing,” Evers said. “We were in a good place. We’re no longer in a good place.”

The offices of Senate Majority Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.

The Tavern League of Wisconsin was quick to say businesses can reopen immediately, and called on companies to follow guidelines provided by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. 

See the Tavern League response: 

See more:

— Despite a record-setting year for Wisconsin tourism in 2019, the industry is now scrambling to adjust to the shock of coronavirus while hoping for a comeback to mitigate millions of dollars in losses.

Already, the city of Milwaukee has pegged its losses at $47 million and Dane County at $32.5 million due to event cancellations. Meanwhile, the U.S. Travel Association reported Wisconsin is losing millions of dollars every week of the pandemic. The year-over-year net change in weekly travel spending for the week of March 7 was a deficit of $11 million and for the week April 25 it skyrocketed to a $218 million loss. 

Wisconsin Department of Tourism Secretary Sara Meaney said the economic impact of 2019 was “a record setting year, and the largest year for Wisconsin in at least a decade” and higher than the national average. 

The year’s numbers came in at about $22.2 billion in total tourism business sales. Wisconsin’s 113 million visitors alone spent $13.7 billion, supporting more than 202,000 full- and part-time jobs. 

But that all changed with the coronavirus hit.

“We need financial help before more people are laid off so that we can make the appropriate shifts to our marketing strategies, our event planning and our advertising buys,” said Meaney. “We need relief now so we are ready to go the second we get the green light from public health officials.”

Read the full story at 

— Social enterprise investors, incubators and entrepreneurs say social enterprises will come out of the pandemic ready to aid communities in the new normal.

“The role that social entrepreneurs play is we get to help reimagine what our life and what our world can look like for so many in our communities,” said Winnie Karanja, founder of Maydm, a Dane County-based nonprofit that engages women and people of color to pursue careers in technology. 

Karanja was a panelist in this week’s Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation’s webinar series, “Entrepreneurons.”

Karanja said she’s hoping to see more creative solutions from social entrepreneurs for ideas and solutions to be funded for inequalities in communities, the country and the world. 

“This is the time where folks who have been thinking about something can really start to put pen to paper, and start brainstorming, asking questions, talking to folks and really starting to say, ‘what role can they play’ in building companies that are going to be socially minded,” she said. 

UW-Madison Discovery to Product mentorCecily Brose agrees entrepreneurs should use this time period to their advantage. 

“It’s unveiling new creative business models which I feel is very inspiring,” she said. “I think that was happening before COVID, but this is just hopefully, just helping to accelerate the movement.”

She added that dreams of a social enterprise can be filled, make money and do good. 

“We’re moving into a world where people aren’t put into these boxes — you’re for profit, you’re nonprofit — the lines of entrepreneurship really are being blurred, and I think that it’s allowing you to be creative.” 

John McIntyre, a social enterprise investor with American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, said there is a “movement gaining momentum” about how to better support social enterprises.

“There are such glaring gaps in our society. When we hit crises like this, and economic downturns, it becomes even more apparent that where we have such huge gaps in equity in America,” he said. “I think this generation of entrepreneurs that are coming along, see that and understand that, and want to do something about it, and hopefully we’re getting more tools and more approaches to work on that.”

“It is my big hope that as we continue to work towards days and months that are back to ‘regular’ that we won’t step back into normal, because normal was not great for everybody, and normal isn’t what is sustainable and quality of life and thriving,” said Karanja. 

Watch WARF’s webinar series:  

— Republican legislative leaders are pushing for Wisconsin to reopen statewide immediately as five of six goals of Gov. Tony Evers’ Badger Bounce Back plan have been met. 

In a Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce webinar yesterday, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the data “clearly shows” the health care system has successfully flattened the curve. 

“And now we see around the state hospitals that need to reopen and hospitals that need to continue to serve their patients along with clinics, and retail stores and everybody else,” he said before the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Republican lawsuit seeking to overturn the Evers administration’s stay-at-home extension. The extension had been due to expire May 26.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald added he prefers a statewide reopening that uses metrics already put out there, noting WEDC’s guidance for businesses to reopen safely. 

“I think there is a general understanding that every part of the state should be able to have re-openings at some extent,” he said. “If we cannot accomplish that, and when we brought up the idea of reopening to Governor Evers, he really didn’t seem to want to veer off the metrics that were in the Badger Bounce Back plan.”

Fitzgerald argued that even if the majority of the Badger Bounce Back gating criteria are positive, it would only move Wisconsin into phase one — only allowing for groups of 10, some sitdown business for restaurants and still no bars.

“Even if we continue down the metrics that he has, we are going to have the state closed in a way that makes no sense to me,” he said. “If we are not allowed and if he will not work with us on having a more statewide approach, which as I said would be option one, I don’t know how anyone could object to a more regional approach.”

Five of the six gating criteria for Evers’ plan were met as of yesterday afternoon, according to the state Department of Health Services. 

This includes: a two-week downward trajectory of COVID-like cases reported; a downward trend of positive tests as a percent of total tests; 95 percent of hospitals affirming they can treat all patients without crisis standards of care and have arranged for testing for all symptomatic clinical staff; and a downward trend of COVID-cases among health care workers calculated weekly.  

The only criterion not currently met is a downward trajectory of flu-like illnesses reported within a 14-day period. It had been met near the end of last week, but the color-coded indicator has changed from green back to red. 

DHS numbers show a spike in the percentage of positive cases after it was at its lowest Tuesday of 3.9 percent. Two weeks ago, 10.8 percent of total COVID-19 tests in the state came back positive; a week ago it was 8 percent, and the rate has since declined to 6.3 percent Wednesday. 

See the dashboard: 

— DHS has released the names of 38 nursing homes in the state with active COVID-19 public health investigations. 

According to a release, these investigations occur in response to a single resident or staff member testing positive for COVID-19. State health officials plan to update the list weekly. In total, 48 nursing home public health investigations have occurred, meaning 10 of them have been resolved. 

 “We have opted to publish the names of nursing homes in order to provide peace of mind to families who cannot visit or check on their loved ones during these unprecedented times,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. 

See the release: 

— DHS is conducting 299 facility-wide investigations across the state, with long-term care facilities accounting for 134 of them.

Long-term care facilities in the state are reporting 181 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. 

Twenty-four of the investigations are in group housing facilities including correctional facilities, homeless shelters, dormitories and group homes which have identified 15 COVID-19 deaths, or 4 percent of the state’s total. 

One hundred and three of the state’s COVID-19 deaths were not linked to group housing facilities, but more than a third of virus deaths in Wisconsin — or 122 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. 

Almost 19 percent of confirmed COVID-19 patients who have died in the state were over 90 years old, while another 24 percent were between 80 and 89 years old. Another 29 percent were between 70 and 79, and 15 percent were between 60 and 69. 

DHS is also conducting investigations in non-health care workplace settings (115), healthcare facilities (16) and “other settings” (10).

A majority of the investigations — 164 — are taking place in the southeastern region of the state. 

— DHS reports the state’s COVID-19 death toll at 421 — up three people from the previous count, the lowest death increase since May 4. 

The state’s number of confirmed cases rose 291 since Tuesday, bringing the cumulative confirmed case count to 10,902. 

An estimated 51 percent have recovered from COVID-19, while 4 percent of patients have died. Forty-five percent are still in a 30-day waiting period of symptom onset or diagnosis.

DHS’s hospital dashboard also reports 338 COVID patients in hospitals statewide, staying near the 333 patient average for the month of May, but about 39 patients above last Wednesday’s number of 299 patients. 

Of the state’s confirmed cases, 18 percent were hospitalized and 4 percent received intensive care, according to DHS.

Counties reporting deaths include Milwaukee (236), Waukesha (23), Dane (22), Brown (20), Kenosha (17), Racine (17), Rock (13), Walworth (11), Ozaukee (10), Grant (9), Clark (4) and Washington (4). 

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

Jefferson, Outagamie, and Richland counties report two deaths each.

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

Sixty-eight of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have confirmed cases. 

— The Wisconsin Safety Council released a step-by-step guide for business owners to supplement their COVID-19 safety efforts as they get ready to reopen.

In a Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce briefing, Laura Waide, the group’s senior safety manager, said the council used information and best practices from organizations such as OSHA, the National Safety Council and the Center for Disease Control.

“While COVID-19 is a new type of challenge, it doesn’t change our shared goals or our shared commitments,” said Aaron Huebner, executive director of the Wisconsin Safety Council. “(These) publications will help our state’s employers and safety professionals plan for a safe transition as employees begin to return to work.”

The guide includes eight steps to keep employees safe when it’s time to return to work: have a restart team, policy for identifying and isolating sick people, obtain personal protective equipment, clean facilities, determine risk of exposure, reduce that risk, provide training and ensure compliance.

See the guide: 

— Marshfield Clinic Health System is moving ahead with a new medical center in Minocqua this summer after initially delaying the opening planned for April. 

David Olejniczak, the hospital’s chief administrative officer, notes the community has “relatively low levels” of COVID-19 and stable volumes of personal protective equipment and testing supplies. 

In early April, the hospital’s leaders delayed the opening in order to prepare for a potential surge of coronavirus patients. Plus, state regulatory reviews were delayed amid the pandemic, according to a release. 

“We are in a strong position to move forward,” Olejniczak said. 

The announcement comes as hospitals across the state are moving to resume nonessential procedures that were initially delayed in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

MCHS announced Monday that “non-urgent” surgeries were resuming at hospitals in Marshfield and Eau Claire, and more procedures are being planned in the coming weeks for hospitals in Rice Lake, Ladysmith, Beaver Dam and Neillsville, and outpatient surgery centers in Wausau and Minocqua. 

See more in a release: 

— A chemical engineering professor at UW-Madison is seeking to determine if COVID-19 creates “junk” biological materials in its replication process. 

This understanding could help scientists find better ways to slow the spread of the virus, according to a recent release from the university. 

As viruses multiply in the body, the copying process can lead to mutations and partial viruses being created. This extra material — known as defective interfering particles — can reduce the virus’ ability to spread within the host’s body, the release shows. 

Along with other researchers in the university’s chemical and biological engineering department, as well as the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery in Madison, Yin is looking to see if these particles exist in human coronaviruses. They’ve been previously found in mouse coronaviruses, according to the release. 

If the team finds that the COVID-19 virus does produce these “junk” particles, they will then move to researching their impact on how it spreads. 

The release shows funding for the project comes from the National Science Foundation in two grants: one from the Rapid Response Research program and another from the Early-Concept Grant for Exploratory Research, or EAGER. These programs got a $75 million funding boost in March for projects related to COVID-19. 

See the release: 

— The founders of Gyld, a Madison-based networking program, want to create a space for blue-collar professionals to showcase skills, certifications, education, and past projects.

Realizing there was a gap in the networking market for skilled trades, co-founders Kahloong Teh

and Kyle Shelton created Gyld Inc. in 2019. The name takes inspiration from the medieval term “guild,” an association of craftsmen or merchants, often reaching a high level of skill. 

The founders believe other networking services, such as LinkedIn and TradeHounds, lack the

features that display the strengths and experiences of trade workers. By incorporating profile

management, project portfolios and networking features, Gyld aims to provide a better platform catered to these strengths.

Demonstrating expertise and examples of their work is key for tradespeople when it comes to

marketing themselves to employers, according to Teh and Sheldon. 

Aside from self-marketing and connecting with potential employers, Gyld also provides a way to

collaborate with other tradespeople and work together.

“A handyman can’t bid on a bathroom refresh project requiring plumbing work if his plumber contact is busy,” Teh said. 

Read the full story at 


# Wisconsin is producing more trash, using less electricity amid coronavirus ‘Safer At Home’ order

# Milwaukee company’s sanitary door handles suddenly a red hot commodity

# Wisconsin Supreme Court strikes down ‘Safer At Home’ order



– Not many changes in revised 2019 crop production report

– Evers’ announcement on direct farm payments coming soon


– Milwaukee officials expect ‘good news’ on Couture project by end of June

– Zilber preps fourth Germantown building for business park


– SBA regional exec: Money remains for PPP loans, how much has been returned


– DNR warns of high fire danger in northern Wisconsin


– PKWARE Inc. acquired by St. Louis private equity firm

– Green Bay, De Pere grant and loan programs provide much-needed lifeline for local businesses


– Carnevor pauses curbside service due to surge in beef price

– Agriculture is abundant in Potosi’s brewing process


– Quarantine ‘magnifies’ depression, mental health struggles during COVID-19 crisis

– As COVID-19 testing grows, so does contact tracing

– ‘Safer at Home’ order extended in Brown County after state Supreme Court overturns it

-72 COVID positive after attending large event


– Eau Claire county judge mandates quarantine for individual amid COVID-19 pandemic 


– Details emerge on compensation package for outgoing Fiserv CEO Yabuki


– GMAR: Listings down 33% as April home sales slow due to COVID-19 pandemic

– Couture lakefront tower could be moving forward this summer, according to Milwaukee officials


– Owners, customers react to small business openings

– Downtown La Crosse begins to wake up as some retailers allowed to open doors


– Racine small business relief fund allocates $650,000


– Chippewa Falls native Borgenheimer finds silver lining in Olympic Trials postponement


– 2020 Dane County Fair canceled due to COVID


– Wisconsin is producing more trash, using less electricity amid coronavirus ‘Safer At Home’ order


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