TUE AM News: Baldwin sees ‘significant headway’ made on bill to fund feds; WisDOT grant to support Kroger facility employing over 700 people

— Wisconsin’s first shipments of COVID-19 vaccine, expected as early as Dec. 14, will vaccinate 49,725 people in the first group of high-risk Wisconsinites: health care workers and those at long-term care facilities.

Once the FDA issues its emergency approval for Pfizer’s vaccine, a move that’s expected within the next week, the state’s distribution will follow a hub and spoke model. That means vaccines will go to hubs within each Healthcare Emergency Response Coalition region that are equipped with the ultra-cold storage that the Pfizer vaccine requires, said Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk. From there, the vaccine will be sent to smaller clinics to be administered.

The Moderna vaccine, when approved and available, will be sent directly to vaccinators because it does not require ultra-cold storage, she told reporters in a health briefing yesterday.

Ann Lewandowski, who co-chairs the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee’s vaccine subcommittee, said the first vaccine shipment could arrive around Dec. 14.

Lewandowski, who is one of the people planning Wisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution, said Sunday on the “UpFront” program that planning is still very fluid and could change based on the course of COVID-19 illness in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin will prioritize vaccines for frontline health care workers and residents of long-term care facilities like nursing homes. Other high-risk groups will follow these initial groups, and then the general public will also be eligible, Willems Van Dijk said.

Read the full story at WisBusiness.com: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/nearly-50k-people-could-be-in-line-next-week-when-wisconsins-first-batch-of-vaccines-is-expected-to-arrive/ 

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin says she hopes federal lawmakers can pass a funding bill before government funding expires at the end of the week.

“The good news is that we’ve made some significant headway on funding the government through the end of the next fiscal year and I hope that we can get that through on a bipartisan basis,” the Madison Dem said at a virtual event yesterday.

Baldwin also said another COVID-19 relief package is “overdue.” Whether that measure is included in the government funding continuing resolution or passed as a stand-alone bill, she said lawmakers need to “create the certainty needed for people who have been so devastatingly impacted by COVID-19.”

But as with government funding, Baldwin indicated the Senate made “a bit of a breakthrough last week with a bipartisan framework” for a new package. That proposal from a bipartisan group in the U.S. Senate is pegged at around $908 billion and would extend unemployment benefits, aid to state and local governments, small businesses and renters and liability protection for businesses, among other things.

Baldwin also said the package would include funding for vaccine distribution with two vaccines set for approval by the Food and Drug Administration later in the month.

“Initial doses can start to be delivered and distributed very quickly but we also know that a lot of that work will fall on the shoulders of state government and local government,” she said. “So to get the most vulnerable vaccinated, we feel that they need extra dollars.”

See the event: https://wiseye.org/2020/12/07/news-conference-sen-baldwin-and-com-afable-on-health-insurance-deadline/

— The statewide “Stop the COVID Spread!” coalition’s fifth public education ad is a message from health care workers: “We need your help.”

The announcement began airing on television, radio and digital platforms yesterday. 

Health care providers featured in the new coalition message include Green Bay’s Bellin Health, Marshfield Clinic Health System and UW Health in Madison. The frontline workers plead with the public to help curb the spread of the virus by masking up, washing hands and staying at least six feet apart from others. The real-life perspectives shared in the spot come from nurses, doctors and a respiratory therapist. 

“While news of forthcoming COVID-19 vaccinations is encouraging, we need to remain vigilant in practicing safe behaviors to curtail virus spread,” said Wisconsin Hospital Association President and CEO Eric Borgerding.

“You don’t have to put your life on the line like the folks who work in health care, grocery stores, restaurants, or hardware stores. All you have to do is wear a mask, practice social distancing and do your part to stop the spread of the coronavirus to keep people from dying,” added Brandon Scholz, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Grocers Association. “Is that too hard to do and too much to ask?”

Since its launch in October, the “Stop the COVID Spread!” coalition has grown quickly to include more than 125 of Wisconsin’s leading health care, business and advocacy organizations.

The coalition has made a six-figure investment on its advertising campaigns. The funding for these programs has come from the Healthy Wisconsin Alliance with support from coalition members, said coalition spokeswoman Myranda Tanck.

You can watch the full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIRW7xTyhDM 

— The Wisconsin National Guard is operating specimen collection sites this week.

Information on these testing sites and others is available here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/community-testing.htm  

As of yesterday, Wisconsin National Guard teams have collected 958,995 specimens statewide.

Nearly 700 citizen soldiers and airmen are currently serving in direct support of the state’s response to COVID-19 in a variety of statuses, including 30 troops working at a call center to inform people of their COVID-19 test results. It has placed over 552,000 calls as of yesterday.

<i>For more of the most relevant news on the coronavirus outbreak, reports on groundbreaking health research in Wisconsin and links to top stories, sign up today for the free daily Health Care Report from WisPolitics.com and WisBusiness.com.

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— The PFAS firefighting foam emergency rule is in effect, prohibiting the use of firefighting foam containing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

Exceptions from the law include its use in emergency firefighting operations and at testing facilities that have implemented appropriate containment, treatment and disposal or storage measures that do not lead to discharges of foam into the environment. 

The rule went into effect Friday after being approved by the Natural Resources Board on Oct. 28 and signed by Gov. Tony Evers and DNR Secretary Preston Cole in November.

A public hearing on the emergency rule will take place on Jan. 15 at 1 p.m. The rule may be subject to review by the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules. 

PFAS are a large group of human-made chemicals that have been used in industry and consumer products worldwide since the 1950s including non-stick cookware, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant sprays and certain types of firefighting foam.

These contaminants have made their way into the environment through PFAS-containing materials, discharges of PFAS-containing wastewater to treatment plants and certain types of firefighting foams. The chemicals can stay in the human body for many years, according to the DNR. 

The discharge of PFAS-containing firefighting foam during emergency fire events or training exercises has been identified as a significant source of PFAS contamination.The DNR is currently monitoring nearly 50 sites across the state for PFAS contamination.

See the rule: https://madison.com/ads/other/department-of-natural-resources—ad-from-2020-12-04/pdfdisplayad_413549fa-4271-5547-aae9-d411b949fb7f.html 

Pre-register for the public hearing by emailing this form to [email protected]: https://dnr.wi.gov/files/pdf/forms/8300/8300-014.pdf 

— A nearly $1 million WisDOT Economic Assistance grant awarded to Kenosha County to make roadway improvements will support a new grocery distribution center in Pleasant Prairie, which is slated to employ more than 700 people.

The 350,000-square foot, $112 million Kroger Fulfillment Network facility is scheduled to open in 2022 after a 0.8-mile section of Kenosha County H is reconstructed, Gov. Tony Evers and Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson announced yesterday.

Evers said in his release that he’s pleased the $951,315 TEA grant contributes to Kroger’s plan to create jobs in Kenosha County and strengthen the state’s economy.

“This project is a great example of how good infrastructure can support business growth, create new job opportunities, and help connect the dots to build a Wisconsin that works for everyone,” he said.

The $1.9 million road improvement project rebuilds Kenosha County H from 93rd Place to Bain Station Road and makes improvements to support the project.

The Kroger development will help home grocery delivery in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana.  The facility is expected to be open for business in early 2022. 

Wisconsin’s TEA program, providing financial assistance supporting transportation improvements to attract new employers or existing employers to expand, this year has awarded 11 grants totaling $5.2 million. The resulting improvements are projected to create 1,005 new jobs and retain an additional 686 jobs in Wisconsin.

— The Public Service Commission has received 124 applications requesting more than $62 million in the most recent round of funding in the State Broadband Expansion Grants program. 

The applications seek to fund projects that will expand high-speed broadband internet access to underserved areas of the state. This is the second round of funding appropriated in the 2019-2021 state biennial budget and the highest request for broadband expansion grants in the state’s history. 

Since last year, the PSC has received more than $112 million in requests to fund the expansion of broadband internet.

“Once again, we received an overwhelming response demonstrating an immense need for funding to provide broadband service,” said PSC Chair Rebecca Cameron Valcq. “This spring we will decide which projects to fund, but clearly, there is a pattern of higher demand for these grants than what is available.” 

PSC awarded 72 grants in March 2020. It is expected to award the remaining $24 million in grants by spring of 2021. 

Since 2014, 210 grants have been awarded and have connected or are in the process of connecting over 7,000 businesses and 117,000 homes to high-speed broadband internet service.

See the list of applicants: https://www.wisbusiness.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/201207-PSC-Broadband-Expansion-Grant-Applications.pdf 

#TOP STORIES#

# Pandemic Forces Businesses To Find Balance In Getting Creative, Staying True To Model

https://www.wpr.org/pandemic-forces-businesses-find-balance-getting-creative-staying-true-model

# Small colleges landed more than $1.2B in PPP funds amid spring-semester swoon 

https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/12/07/colleges-ppp-loans-covid-19-pandemic-challenges.html

# Wisconsin could face a budget gap of as much as $2 billion over two years 

https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2020/12/07/wisconsin-could-face-budget-gap-much-2-billion-over-2-years/3853232001/

#TOPICS#

# AGRIBUSINESS 

– Kevin Krentz Elected President of Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/12/07/kevin-krentz-elected-president-of-wisconsin-farm-bureau-federation/ 

# ECONOMY 

– A $900B plan would help the economy, but not fix it https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/12/07/a-900b-plan-would-help-the-economy-but-not-fix-i.html 

# EDUCATION 

– 4 UW System Campuses Cancel Spring Break To Avoid COVID-19 Spread https://www.wpr.org/4-uw-system-campuses-cancel-spring-break-avoid-covid-19-spread 

# ENVIRONMENT 

– DNR Announces Changes at the Top https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/12/07/dnr-announces-changes-at-the-top/ 

# FINANCIAL SERVICES 

– This Wisconsin ZIP code garnered the most PPP loan dollars https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/12/07/this-wisconsin-zip-code-got-most-ppp-loan-dollars.html 

# HEALTH CARE 

– Planned Parenthood Argues To Expand Abortion Access In Wisconsin https://www.wpr.org/planned-parenthood-argues-expand-abortion-access-wisconsin 

# INVESTING 

– Baird adds to portfolio with investment in finance and legal services tech company https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/12/07/baird-invests-in-finance-and-legal-service.html 

# LEGAL 

– National Guard sued over environmental review of F-35 projects at Truax Field https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/environment/national-guard-sued-over-environmental-review-of-f-35-projects-at-truax-field/article_c1d94948-5d14-58ce-98cf-b10101bfa1e3.html

# POLITICS 

– Republicans defy Evers, put Christmas tree in closed Capitol https://apnews.com/article/wisconsin-coronavirus-pandemic-trees-holidays-christmas-a23179deeea1c2e887db201dfcfdaa54

– UW’s Tommy Thompson: Turn Wisconsin Prison Into College For Inmates https://www.wpr.org/uws-tommy-thompson-turn-wisconsin-prison-college-inmates

# REAL ESTATE 

– Weas Development pitches mixed-use project with two-story restaurant in Menomonee Falls https://biztimes.com/weas-development-pitches-mixed-use-project-with-two-story-restaurant-in-menomonee-falls/ 

– In new Couture agreement, Milwaukee County is forgoing right to take back property https://biztimes.com/in-new-couture-agreement-milwaukee-county-is-forgoing-right-to-take-back-property/ 

# RETAIL 

– Early success leads Kohl’s, Lands’ End to expand partnership https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/12/07/early-success-leads-kohls-lands-end-to-expand-p.html 

– With 3 billion packages to go, online shopping faces tough holiday test https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/12/07/with-3-billion-packages-to-go-online-shopping.html 

# SPORTS 

– NBA to give $30M each to Bucks, rest of teams to protect finances as season approaches https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/12/07/nba-to-give-30m-to-each-of-its-teams-to-protect-t.html 

# TOURISM 

– Hotel conversion of historic Racine Zahn’s store regroups after Covid-19, could start in April https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/12/07/hotel-conversion-of-historic-racine-zahns-store-r.html 

– Marcus Performing Arts Center estimates $7 million in losses since its March closure https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/12/07/marcus-performing-arts-center-estimates-7-million.html 

# TRANSPORTATION 

– Southwest Airlines potential furloughs in Milwaukee impact over 100 employees https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/12/07/southwest-airlines-potential-furloughs-in-milwauke.html 

# PRESS RELEASES

<i>See these and other press releases: 

https://www.wisbusiness.com/press-releases/ </i>