THU AM News: VISIT Milwaukee launches two commercials, but not confirmed to stream on TV; Wisconsin sees local testing supply shortages

— DNC delegates can expect to see two 30-second commercials featuring Milwaukee this week through their virtual meetings. But if you’re streaming or watching at home on TV, you may not catch them.

“We are working with the DNCC to get them either distributed through the campaign, through the DNCC channels or hopefully on national television,” VISIT Milwaukee’s Kristin Settle told

On the second night of the virtual national convention, Mayor Tom Barrett told Dem activists he wished he were welcoming them to Milwaukee in person this week, but he was proud the party and the city were putting the health of his constituents first.

“But these are not conventional times, and as a result, as we all know, this is not a conventional convention,” Barrett said. The DNC became the “Convention across America,” even removing the Wisconsin silhouette from its logo. However, the production and feeds still come out of Milwaukee.

“The DNC made the choice to make it more representative of all of the country,” Settle said. “Milwaukee has not been at the forefront of the convention as it might have been or would have been had it been an in-person convention here in the city itself.”

It also was supposed to be an economic boon with 50,000 visitors and a $200 million impact. Instead, the COVID-19 pandemic turned it into a virtual event with a light presence in Wisconsin’s largest city.

“Of course we’re disappointed, but we’re not crying into our beer, we’re not lamenting the loss, we are not sad because we are still able to capture the attention of millions of people who are watching at home and highlight Milwaukee as an amazing destination,” she said.

VISIT Milwaukee now expects a $3 million economic impact including $125,000 in local tax revenue generated. Settle noted the DNC is estimated to generate 4,000 hotel room nights for the Milwaukee area.

Barrett extended an invitation to viewers to visit the city on the “fresh coast” while saying he and his constituents understand “why we can’t be together” this week.

VISIT Milwaukee’s commercials “Unique Unites” and “Powered by the People” both call for people to visit Milwaukee.

In addition to the commercials, VISIT Milwaukee also sent out over 400 gift boxes to delegates, donors, and others who would have been in Milwaukee this week.

Looking ahead, Settle noted that the city and state mask mandate has resulted in COVID-19 cases ticking down. This has made people more comfortable with traveling to Milwaukee, she said.

“We actually are starting to see leisure travel come back … as hotel occupancy ticks up and then we’re also starting to see visits and convention travel rebook in the city,” Settle said. “As conventions canceled for 2020 and rebooked to 2021, there were also conventions booking out for future years — 2022 and beyond — because Milwaukee has been getting so much national attention as the host of a major national convention.”

VISIT Milwaukee is pushing its commercials on its social media channels.

View “Unique Unites” here:

View “Powered by the People” here:

— Only six counties in the state rank below the high mark for COVID-19 activity and none  rank “low,” according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. 

But only three counties are seeing both an increased trend in cases and a high burden of cases: Iron, Manitowoc and Walworth. The northeast healthcare emergency readiness coalition region is also seeing both an increased cased trend and high case burden. 

In terms of infection ratios, Milwaukee County has the state’s highest at 23.6 per 1,000 people. In one week, Milwaukee County added 1,225 new COVID-19 cases to its count, giving the county a cumulative total of 22,556 confirmed cases.

The second-highest infection ratio in the state is Racine County at 19.2 per 1,000 people. It added 178 cases in one week for a cumulative 3,745 confirmed cases. 

Brown County has an infection ratio of 17.9 per 1,000 people and a cumulative total of 4,656 confirmed COVID-19 cases after adding 316 cases in one week. Kenosha County’s infection ratio is 16.7 per 1,000 people and cases number 2,813 an increase of 121 cases in one week.

Iron (16.1), Walworth (14.9), Trempealeau (13.1), Marinette (12.9) and Waukesha (12.5) are the only other counties that are above the state average infection ratio of 11.7 per 1,000 people.

See DHS’ data dashboard with county and HERC region breakdown here: 

— The Department of Health Services recommends local health departments, school staff and parents immediately notify school administration about any confirmed COVID-19 case among staff or students.

Then, local and tribal health departments will begin contact tracing — identifying and interviewing close contacts of cases within and outside the school setting.

DHS released this guidance yesterday on school outbreaks to help school districts and local and tribal health departments respond to COVID-19 cases among students and staff this upcoming school year.

Both State Health Officer Stephanie Smiley and Bureau of Communicable Diseases Director Traci DeSalvo told reporters yesterday that “we will see outbreaks in schools once the school year starts.”

“It is not possible to eliminate the risk of disease transmission, but schools can implement infection control measures to reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission in schools,” Smiley said.

The state saw a need for the guidance as school districts statewide have been consulting with their local and tribal health departments on virus mitigation measures, steps to identify cases and considerations for local health when it comes to contact tracing and isolating students and staff.

The document also touches on balancing preventative measures with the need for quality instruction, access to technology, and the challenge of connecting students with resources such as food, special education and mental health services.

“We know that this virus is highly transmissible, and that we have high levels of COVID-19 activity across the state,” said DHS Secretary Andrea Palm. “We developed this guidance because we want local and tribal health departments to be prepared so that, when outbreaks occur, they can act quickly to address cases and prevent further spread.”

The newly released “Guidelines for the Prevention, Investigation, and Control of COVID-19 Outbreaks in K-12 Schools in Wisconsin” builds on previous guidance documents “Education Forward” and “Reopening School Buildings Risk Assessment Tool” that were released in June.

“Education, health and safety all go hand-in-hand, and that is why this pandemic has made school this fall such a complicated issue,” said Gov. Tony Evers. “Whether it’s in-person instruction or virtual learning, we know it’s going to be a difficult start to the school year, and we’re going to have to keep working together to figure out how to best serve our kids.”

See the guidelines:

— An increase in turnaround time for COVID-19 test results in pockets across the state and a decline in overall testing are due to a stressed supply chain, according to state health leaders.

In urban and rural parts of Wisconsin, a shortage in testing supplies — both the kits to collect a sample and the reagents necessary to produce a result — “continues to be a concern and it continues to be sporadic across the state,” Wisconsin Hospital Association CEO Eric Borgerding told a Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce briefing.

He attributes shortages to the sheer volume of people now being tested in the state. That stresses the supply chain and could affect community testing done in schools or by hospitals, drive-thru testing sites operated by the National Guard, or testing done by employers. 

“The ability to continue doing that at the level we’ve been doing it is going to be really stressed because the supplies are consistently not there,” he said.

Borgerding added that Aurora Health had to pull back from community testing because it needed the supplies to deliver health care. He added testing supplies from the federal government are being steered away from Wisconsin to other states.

“The bottom line is we’re nowhere near out of the woods on testing, and my concern is that if we have sort of an unbridled testing strategy, which I think is the ideal. But I don’t know if anyone, anywhere, anytime getting tested can be sustained and supported by our supply chain.”

Read the full story at 

— Wisconsin reported 663 new COVID-19 cases and eight deaths.

The seven-day average of daily confirmed cases rose to 747 from 721 and the seven-day average for percent positive tests dropped to 7.7 from 7.8 after the state received 9,429 tests.

The new cases bring the cumulative case count to 67,493, with 58,244 recovered. Meanwhile, 1.6 percent of patients have died with the death toll now at 1,060.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (474), Racine (84), Waukesha (69), Kenosha (60), Brown (56), Dane (39), Rock (26), Walworth (25), Washington (24), Winnebago (19), Ozaukee (18), Grant (16), Outagamie (16), Waupaca (16), Marathon (12), Clark (8), Fond du Lac (8), Sheboygan (8), Jefferson (6), St. Croix (6), Dodge (5), Marinette (5), Eau Claire (4), Forest (4), Pierce (4) and Richland (4).

Barron, Door and Sauk counties report three deaths each. Adams, Buffalo, Calumet, Columbia, Kewaunee, Monroe, Polk, Taylor, Trempealeau and Wood counties report two deaths each.

Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Green, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Langlade, Lincoln, Manitowoc, Marquette, Oconto, Rusk and Waushara counties report one death each.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates:

Click here for a list of community testing sites: 

— COVID-19 hospitalizations number 380, up 15 from Tuesday, but still down from August’s peak of 414 patients, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s coronavirus data dashboard.

COVID-19 ICU patients number 109, down 16 patients from Tuesday, which saw the greatest number of ICU patients since June 5. 

But while the state isn’t seeing record lows of COVID-19 patients, it is seeing a record low of the percent of patients that have been hospitalized at 8 percent. 

Keeping that rate low has been a result of better procedures and treatments for COVID-19 patients, the use of face coverings, and that the majority of cases are in younger age groups, which are least likely to be hospitalized, according to Wisconsin Hospital Association CEO Eric Borgerding. 

Additionally, he said Wisconsin hospitals have always been adept at being flexible — an ability that’s been honed over the last five months. 

“We’re able to flex up and down our capacity as needed, particularly in ICU,” Borgerding said. “That’s not to minimize or dismiss the impact on the state of Wisconsin of a growing number of COVID positives.”

He said a positive test result has ramifications beyond the impact on the healthcare delivery system: people are out of work, need to isolate, contact contacts, and consume PPE and testing supplies.

“The spread of COVID has impacts far beyond the stress on the health care system, and that tells us we still have to take all this very, very seriously and be smart about how we exercise our freedom in the state,” Borgerding said.

About 63 percent of Wisconsin’s total COVID-19 patients — 238 — are in southeastern Wisconsin. The association also reports 41 or fewer patients 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 5,551, an increase of 52 over Tuesday, according to DHS, and is not seeing a downward trend. 

The state continues to see high levels of COVID-19 spread in Wisconsin. And employers will continue seeing cases in various industries in Wisconsin — the healthcare system is no different, State Health Officer Stephanie Smiley said. 

DHS told Tuesday it knows of two confirmed cases of health care workers who died. This is a correction from the three deaths that DHS reported in late June. Meanwhile, the occupation is unknown or missing for 415 confirmed cases who died.

Meanwhile, there continue to be PPE shortages in hospitals and health systems as they scramble to acquire items such as surgical gowns in order to provide care for the community and open procedures, Borgerding said.

The WHA data show 11 hospitals have a seven-day or less supply of goggles, six have limited N95 masks, 19 have limited supply of gowns, and 13 hospitals have limited paper medical masks.

See the WHA hospital dashboard here: 


# Businesses in Milwaukee seeing the impact of a mostly virtual DNC

# Health care workers have been robbed, raped and murdered in parking garages for decades. Why haven’t hospitals done more to make them safe?

# Restaurant owners now considering how to social distance in winter months 

# Mike Pence Touts Economy, COVID-19 Response At Southeastern Wisconsin Rally 



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