THU AM News: UW-Madison Prof. says second wave of COVID-19 likely; Congressman Kind describes Phase 4 relief package

— A second wave of coronavirus infections is likely once people return to indoor activities and are exposed more to airborne transmission, according to Dr. Ajay Sethi, an epidemiologist and UW-Madison professor.

Wisconsin campuses can slowly reopen with caution as testing, contact tracing, personal protective equipment and medical staff become available to deal with the problems associated with hosting tens of thousands of students, Sethi said. 

While some classes that require physical interaction can begin again with strong caution, testing and contact tracing are the only way to monitor and stem the spread of COVID-19, Sethi said in a “UW Now” program hosted by the alumni association.

He noted that online classes, when possible, are still the best way for college campuses to resume courses come fall semester in a manner that provides a safe and effective educational environment. 

As a professor, Sethi lectures about the spread of misinformation, conspiracy theories in public health and how to address these falsehoods.

Compared to other countries heavily impacted by the pandemic, the U.S. is at a disadvantage when it comes to a swift and safe economic recovery, according to Sethi. This is due to the spread of misinformation, rapidly changing information coming from various sources and the general fear among the public surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic combined with delayed government intervention and planning. 

Read the full story at 

— Congressman Ron Kind says the driver behind a Phase 4 federal relief package is that state and local government budgets are collapsing. 

“They’re collapsing because the economy was in a coma and revenue has just plummeted,” the western Wisconsin Dem told  a Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce webinar. “So unless we want to see a lot of very essential programs and services end in our local communities, the only entity capable of providing some backstop is the federal government right now.”

He warned that without short term help — requested from mayors and governors nationwide —   crucial programs from education to health care to even law enforcement are going to be facing severe cuts.

Kind highlighted key items in the Phase 4 relief bill currently in discussion that would benefit Wisconsin businesses, such as getting liquidity to businesses that won’t see profit, adjusting unemployment insurance and investing in infrastructure.

He recognized that businesses are concerned about potential employees making more money from unemployment and the $600 a week federal subsidy than coming back to work, and agrees that extending the bonus to the end of the year “is too long.” However, Kind said that letting it expire in July is too early. 

“I’m also concerned that we’re not out of the toughest spot yet when it comes to the recovery, and just having everything expire in July could really create a huge economic whole that’s going to prolong the recovery and make it much more difficult for us to climb out of,” Kind said.

He touted his economic stabilization package that would link the reduction of the unemployment insurance benefits, including the $600 per week, to the unemployment rate, “so when the rate comes down, the bonus diminishes and you have a phase off that reflects current work conditions from region to region,” Kind said. “Thinking creatively in those ways of being able to shift all or a part of that $600 as an incentive to return is something that is certainly being considered right now.”

Kind emphasized infrastructure as a main item that the House Committee on Ways and Means has been discussing. He predicted to see a plan or at least a framework on infrastructure in early July.

“We are implorically behind when it comes to rebuilding Wisconsin, rebuilding America,” he said. “This would be a real nice spark to the economic recovery as well.”

But he said the major “stumbling block” is finding a sustainable revenue source to pay for everything; “that’s always what has tripped us up.”

“I know there’s a lot of bipartisan support for Congress to do something on this front, and I couldn’t think of a better time than emerging out of this crisis and really start reinvesting in America,” Kind said. “That too, has got to be part of the plan — not only how do we defeat the virus ultimately, but how do we start rebuilding America again after this crisis to keep us at the forefront of innovation and creativity and competitiveness on the global scale; and infrastructure has got to be a part of that.”

— Kind also called on the Wisconsin business community to address social justice concerns that are being raised in statewide protests. 

Kind pointed out a trio of challenges facing the nation: the virus, the economy and social justice. 

“I think there’s a unique role for the business community of Wisconsin in addressing the social justice concerns that are being raised in these demonstrations,” he said. 

Kind said he hopes for discussions about the diversification of the workforce, recruitment and investment in human capital “so that everyone has got the life skills to be successful and fully integrated in our economy.”

He noted that education, job training programs and rural broadband expansion, of which he serves on the national task force, can help address economic inequalities.

“If anything has shown its ugly head when it comes to this crisis, it’s the digital divide and then the education and economic divide that comes from that,” he said. “When we’re talking about infrastructure investment, I’m very much working on a chapter for high speed broadband internet connection in every inch of our territory. We just can’t afford to leave anyone behind with today’s economy.”

— Some business groups are knocking Dem Attorney General Josh Kaul’s opinion on high-capacity well permits and awaiting the state Supreme Court case decision.  

John Holevoet, director of government affairs at the Dairy Business Association, said Kaul’s decision to withdraw former Republican AG Brad Schimmel’s opinion on well permitting creates uncertainty for businesses such as farmers and food processors that rely on permits to do business and creates jobs.

“A case pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court will help clarify how the high-capacity well permitting process should work and what the limits of the Department of Natural Resources’ authority are,” Holevoet told

He was referring to the case, Clean Wisconsin, Inc. v. DNR, that is before the state Supreme Court now. A decision is expected sometime this year, according to a DBA spokesman. 

In the suit, Clean Wisconsin and other environmental groups claim the Wisconsin Constitution requires DNR to look at the potential cumulative impacts of a proposed well before issuing the permit. 

According to the DBA spokesperson, the argument is based on the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Lake Beulah decision, issued just after Act 21 became law. But the counter argument is that Act 21 limits administrative agencies’ ability to act without specific action by the state Legislature —  consistent with former Schimmel’s opinion. 

The courts’ decision will explain the full implications of Act 21 on high-capacity well permitting, according to the DBA. 

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce warned earlier this week that Kaul’s opinion on high-capacity well permits is unlawful and will “cause confusion and regulatory strain on the agriculture industry,” adding that it will negatively impact farmers, food processors and other businesses “at the absolute worst time.” 

The executive director at Wisconsin Soybean Marketing Board, Bob Karls, told that the association has alerted its members that the DNR review process for new high-capacity wells has changed as a result of Kaul’s opinion. 

“As an association, we will assist our members with working with DNR staff if they have specific questions regarding the new process or need any additional information,” Karls said. “ We are monitoring the situation for any impacts to our growers who need and have irrigation systems to grow crops.”

The Wisconsin Water Alliance announced Kaul’s efforts to “overregulate” water standards would have a “crippling effect” on the state’s economy. 

“Kaul’s desired actions could cost local governments significant resources, and the financial burden on compliance threatens to impact small businesses and job creators to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars,” said WWA President Dan Ellsworth. “This would hurt taxpayers and stifle economic growth.”

Ellsworth recommends a balance between safeguarding water resources and providing an environment that fosters a strong economy for Wisconsin.

“Wisconsin Water Alliance will continue to advocate for sound policy that protects water, both as a vital natural resource and a driver of our state’s economic engine,” he said.

In a media call Tuesday, DNR Secretary Preston Cole said the agency will “follow the science” as it relates to water quality and issuing permits. 

See the Wisconsin Water Alliance release: 

— Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. is opening applications for its ‘We’re All In’ Small Business Grant program starting Monday.

Wisconsin small businesses have one week to apply for the $2,500 grant from WEDC. Applications are due June 21.

Eligible businesses must be Wisconsin-based and for profit; employ 20 or fewer full-time employees, including the owner; have greater than $0 but less than $1 million in annual revenues; and have started operating prior to January 1, 2020 and in Februray 2020. 

The businesses cannot be part of a national chain, unless the business is a third-party franchise, and cannot be covered by other Wisconsin CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Fund programs.

Apply here: 

— The state’s COVID-19 death count is at 671, 10 new deaths since the previous count. Plus, the state reports 285 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the cumulative case count to 21,593.

Milwaukee County had five new deaths, while Calumet, Dane, Jefferson, Sheboygan and Winnebago counties had one new death each.

The number of recovered patients continues to rise, now at an estimated 68 percent, while 3 percent of patients have died. Twenty-eight percent are still in a 30-day waiting period of symptom onset or diagnosis.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (336), Racine (51), Brown (38), Kenosha (36), Waukesha (34), Dane (31), Rock (21), Walworth (17), Ozaukee (13), Grant (12), Washington (10), Outagamie (8), Winnebago (8), Fond du Lac (6), Clark (4), Dodge (4), Jefferson (4), Richland (4) and Sheboygan (4).

Door, Marinette and Sauk counties report three deaths each. Buffalo, Calumet and Forest counties report two deaths each.

Adams, Bayfield, Burnett, 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:

— Wisconsin’s coronavirus hotspots are largely located in the southeast region of the state with the exception of Brown County. 

In a matter of 10 days, Racine County’s COVID-19 cases have gone up 68, giving the county a cumulative total of 1,952 confirmed cases and the highest infection ratio of 10 per 1,000 people.

With the most Wisconsin cases — 9,096 — and an increase of 1,297 cases in 10 days, Milwaukee County ranks second in terms of an infection ratio at 9.5 per 1,000 people.

Brown County’s ratio is 9.3 and it ranks second for the most positive cases at 2,405, while Kenosha County’s infection ratio is 7.8 per 1,000 people and cases number 1,308.

Dodge (4.7), Rock (4.5) and Walworth (4.4) counties follow.  

Almost 60 percent or 169 of the new cases today came from the southeast region of the state made up of Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Walworth, Washington and Waukesha counties. 

— DHS is currently conducting 547 facility-wide investigations across the state, almost 90 more than last week.

Non-health care workplace investigations account for 255 of the current investigations, followed by 193 happening in long-term care facilities.

Long-term care facilities in the state are reporting 281 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. 

Forty-one of the investigations are in group housing facilities including correctional facilities, homeless shelters, dormitories and group homes that have identified 32 (corrected by DHS from 33 last week) COVID-19 deaths, or 5 percent of the state’s total. 

One hundred and sixty-seven of the state’s COVID-19 deaths were not linked to group housing facilities, but 181 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 19 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. Over 26 percent were between 70 and 79, and roughly 17 percent were between 60 and 69. 

DHS is also conducting investigations in health care facilities (17) and “other settings” (41).

A majority of the investigations are taking place in Milwaukee (108), Brown (76), Racine (69) and Waukesha (53) counties.

There has been a cumulative total of 651 investigations, meaning 104 investigations have been closed.

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


# Madison Officials Deliberate Civilian Oversight Of Police

# MMAC launches grant program for businesses damaged during recent looting

# COVID-19, Trade Tensions, Turbulent Markets — Trouble for Wisconsin Ag 



– Baldwin Co-Sponsors Bill to Improve PPP Loans for Farmers 


– La Crosse area college officials address COVID-19 related campus changes for fall 2020


– MMAC launches grant program to help businesses damaged during recent protests 


– With Testing Down, Milwaukee Officials Warn Unreported COVID-19 Cases Could Be Rising 

– Wisconsin’s Daily Testing Capacity For COVID-19 Surpasses 16K 

– Five in Eau Claire County Jail have tested positive for COVID-19 

– La Crosse County sees highest daily COVID-19 increase yet with 15 new cases


– Legal Action’s Eviction Defense Project Helps Tenants 

– Kenosha delays vote on Dairyland redevelopment over tribal legal immunity question 

– More than 250 sign petition calling on officials to drop citations for curfew violations  


– Milwaukee home brewing products manufacturer thrives during pandemic 


– Fox News keeps its space at Deer Camp near Fiserv Forum for DNC coverage 


– Elections Commission Delays Final Vote On Mailing Absentee Ballot Applications 

– Evers’ Staff Secretly Recorded Meeting With Republican Leaders 

– About 90 turn out in rain for peaceful Black Lives Matter protest in De Pere 


– Wisconsin Leads 22-State Coalition Supporting Federal Standards For PFAS In Drinking Water 

– As Cries To Defund Police Rise, Milwaukee Police Chief Calls For Unity 

– New countywide order allows larger indoor, outdoor gatherings 


– Starbucks will shutter hundreds of stores as it shifts focus to pickup service  


– Green Bay Packers distribute COVID-19 funds to 19 Brown County organizations 


– As more Milwaukee-area hotels open, occupancy continues to climb  

– Milwaukee Art Museum plans summer reopening with free admission for a month  

– Summer fun won’t look the same this year: a guide to what you can, can’t do at local attractions 

– Winnebago County Fair Announces Cancellation 


– Storms Leave Thousands Without Power In Wisconsin 


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