TUE AM News: Evers administration blocked again from releasing businesses with COVID outbreaks; C-Motive aims to reshape electric motors, generators

— A Waukesha County judge has granted WMC’s request for a temporary injunction preventing the Evers administration from releasing information on businesses with COVID-19 outbreaks.

The decision from Judge Lloyd Carter follows a hearing between plaintiffs WMC and chambers from Muskego and New Berlin, defendants Gov. Tony Evers, Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm and Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan, and intervenor Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Yesterday’s hearing was the last day of a temporary restraining order on the Evers administration granted Oct. 7.

The lawsuit, filed Oct. 1, argues that information on over 1,000 businesses with more than 25 employees with at least two employees that tested positive for COVID-19 was pulled from confidential patient health care records and shouldn’t be released. 

Additionally, the names of businesses could be released even if they had no employees test positive but had two or more contact tracing investigations, according to WMC.

The information would be released in response to open records requests in March, May and June from media 

WMC President and CEO Kurt Bauer claims the release of those records would spread “false and misleading information” since an employee may have contracted COVID-19 outside of the workplace. It would make the economic harm of COVID-19 worse for Wisconsin businesses, he added. 

But the Evers administration has argued he state has a requirement to release the records under law once the requested information is compiled.

While the judge issued his ruling during the hearing, a written order is expected later this week.

See WMC’s brief: https://www.wmc.org/wp-content/uploads/Combined-Brief-in-Opposition-and-Reply-in-Support.pdf 

— Progress for corn and other crops has been excellent, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service’s final crop report. 

The fall was especially good in contrast to the very wet and slow harvest season of 2019.

Wisconsin corn growers are expected to see record yields this year with a forecast of 184 bushels of corn per acre. That’s six bushels higher than the previous record set in 2016 and almost 11 percent higher than what farmers saw last year.

A few producers were harvesting the last of the standing corn and baling corn stalks. Corn for grain harvest was 95 percent complete, more than four weeks ahead of last year and 10 days ahead of the five-year average. The moisture content of corn harvested for grain was reported at 17 percent.

Up to 5 inches of snow recently fell across southern and central Wisconsin, but sunny days and above normal temperatures melted it off quickly. 

The precipitation left the ground too wet to support machinery in some areas. However, many farmers were already done with fall field work and storing their equipment for the winter. 

Adequate soil moisture and warm temperatures throughout November have left fall-planted and perennial crops well prepared to overwinter. Ninety-seven percent of winter wheat was emerged, more than four weeks ahead of last year. Winter wheat condition rated 84 percent good to excellent statewide, unchanged from last week.

With the ground not yet frozen, some USDA reporters noted that tillage and manure spreading may continue into December. Fall tillage was reported as 84 percent complete, more than four weeks ahead of last year and more than a week ahead of the average.

— Dem U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan and GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos teamed up for a new public service announcement urging people to take steps to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

The 30-second spot from “Stop the COVID Spread!”  coalition will air on broadcast and digital channels across the state beginning yesterday, the group said. It’s the organization’s fifth public education announcement. 

After introducing themselves, Vos, R-Rochester, notes “it’s clear we have differences” after the election, “but we can also agree.” 

Pocan, D-Town of Vermont, urges people to stay home when they can, while Vos urges people to wear a mask and wash their hands. 

“We have to do all we can to stay safe,” Pocan says. 

Vos adds, “We can still live our lives and be sensible and safe.” 

The two forged a friendship years ago on the Joint Finance Committee. The “Stop the COVID Spread!” coalition includes more than 125 health care, business and advocacy organizations. 

See the release: https://www.wispolitics.com/2020/stop-the-covid-spread-coalition-pushes-new-message-of-bipartisan-cooperation/ 

See the ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zds-d5Yq4gU&feature=youtu.be  

— Madison East High School reported a junior had died unexpectedly over the Thanksgiving break after a coronavirus-related illness, marking the first person under the age of 20 to die from COVID-19 in Wisconsin.

But the Department of Health Services does not yet report a COVID-19 death in anyone under 20 years old.

The latest state numbers show Wisconsin reported six new deaths among confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the death toll to 3,313 and marking 302 deaths since Nov. 23. By comparison, the week leading up to Nov. 23 saw 362 deaths.

The state also reported 2,534 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, bringing the seven-day average for daily confirmed cases down to 4,209, the lowest since late October.

A week prior, the seven-day average was at 5,859. The record, hit Nov. 18, is 6,563 cases per day. 

The latest WHA coronavirus update shows COVID-19 hospitalizations in Wisconsin at 1,824 with 398 intensive care patients statewide. The Alternate Care Facility at State Fair Park had six coronavirus patients.

Click here for more coronavirus resources and updates: https://www.wispolitics.com/wisconsin-coronavirus-resources/ 

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— To mitigate the changing climate and maintain a cleaner future, the world is increasingly turning to renewable energy. In the world of motors and generators, that means changing how electric power is generated. 

Enter C-Motive Technologies, which focuses on making a new breed of electric motors and generators that are simpler, cheaper and more effective.

Conventional electric motors use electromagnets, such as a refrigerator magnet but much stronger. In contrast, C-Motive’s motors use electrostatic forces, such as when a charged balloon sticks to one’s head.

“It’s an entirely different kind of physics,” said CEO Justin Reed. Reed is a UW-Madison alumnus with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and power electronics. He set out to reinvent the electric motor through C-Motive.

Electrostatic forces don’t lose energy in the form of heat, resulting in technology that has 98 percent energy efficiency and improves a battery lifespan by 10 percent, according to Reed. Electrostatic motors and generators also have simpler designs because they lack gears and coils. That lessens weight and maintenance. 

What’s more, they don’t use imported “rare earth” magnets, which greatly reduce the price, he said.

Read the full story at WisBusiness.com: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/c-motive-technologies-is-reshaping-electric-motors-and-generators/ 

Read more stories authored by graduating students in UW-Madison’s Department of Life Sciences Communication, highlighting various early-stage businesses in Wisconsin and their founders: https://www.wisbusiness.com/category/student-stories/

— Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce named Kay Kertz as the organization’s vice president of finance and human resources. 

Kertz joined WMC in 1991 as an accountant. For the last 15 years, she has managed the daily operations of WMC’s finance department. With her promotion, Kertz will join WMC’s executive leadership team and continue to oversee all aspects of the organization’s finance and human resources departments.

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/wmc-promotes-kertz-to-vice-president/ 

— The largest single rooftop solar panel system in Wisconsin is creating clean energy for customers across the state as of this month. 

The record-breaking project, which is part of We Energies’ Solar Now program, consists of nearly 8,400 solar panels on top of the Harley-Davidson’s Pilgrim Road Powertrain Operations facility in Menomonee Falls. The panels can produce 2.25 megawatts or enough energy to power more than 400 homes.

“Reducing emissions is essential to building a bright, sustainable future,” said We Energies President Tom Metcalfe. “Projects like this provide clean, renewable energy and are an important part of our commitment to make our electric generation fleet net carbon neutral by 2050. 

Under the Solar Now program, a pilot program approved by the Public Service Commission, We Energies partners with large business, nonprofit and government customers to host solar panels. We Energies leases space for the panels on roofs and unused land.

We Energies has 11 Solar Now projects and has another six under construction, together totaling more than 15 megawatts or enough energy to power more than 3,000 homes. The utility has selected Pewaukee-based SunVest Solar Inc. to be the general contractor for these projects.

— The latest episode of “WisBusiness.com: The Show” spotlights entrepreneur Christopher Johnson of Mappix.

Mappix is a social network for drone pilots and aerial imagery, featuring a map for consolidating, managing, visualizing and sharing drone pictures and videos. Users store such data locally and in their favorite cloud locations without requiring unnecessary shuffling of data from one storage spot to another.

Johnson won the “People’s Choice Award” during the Elevator Pitch Olympics at the 2020 Wisconsin Early Stage Symposium.

Also in the episode, Wisconsin Technology Council President Tom Still presents “Tech Metrics,” which chart key indicators and events in the Wisconsin economy. He’ll also preview upcoming Tech Council webinars and opportunities, such as tomorrow’s Wisconsin WOMEN reception.

View the show: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/wisbusiness-the-show-features-drone-expert-johnson-of-mappix/ 

See a recent feature on Mappix authored by a graduating student in UW-Madison’s Department of Life Sciences Communication: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/mappix-creating-a-social-network-for-drone-imagery/ 

Listen to a recent WisBusiness.com podcast with Johnson: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/wisbusiness-the-podcast-with-chris-johnson-program-director-at-wisconsin-aviation/ 

— A strong demand for aluminum products during the pandemic is spurring the Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry to seek employees.

“We’ve been fortunate during these challenging times,” explained WAF CEO Sachin Shivaram. “There’s been strong demand for our products in a variety of industries this year, especially in the medical, agricultural, defense and automotive industries. As a result, we’re looking to expand our workforce.”

WAF is seeking 25 employees for its Manitowoc facility.

Second and third shift positions are available in WAF’s finishing and foundry departments and at their subsidiary machine shop.

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/wisconsin-aluminum-foundry-now-hiring-to-meet-growing-demand/ 


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– Wisconsin Christmas Tree Growers Hope For Busy Season During Pandemic https://www.wpr.org/wisconsin-christmas-tree-growers-hope-busy-season-during-pandemic 

– Farmer Angel Network Hosting Program December 9th https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/11/30/farmer-angel-network-hosting-program-december-9th/ 


– Aurora Health Care, Children’s disclose price increases for 2021 https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/11/30/aurora-health-care-childrens-disclose-price.html 

– Between Pandemic, Evictions And Dropping Temperatures, Homeless Shelters Anticipate A Tough Winter https://www.wpr.org/between-pandemic-evictions-and-dropping-temperatures-homeless-shelters-anticipate-tough-winter


– May flooding in downtown Milwaukee spurs $5 million damage claim against city https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/11/30/damage-from-may-flooding-spurs-5-million-claim.html 


– Modine Manufacturing names Advanced Energy Industries president as its new CEO https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/11/30/modine-names-new-ceo.html 


– Rep. Bryan Steil announces full recovery from COVID-19 https://www.channel3000.com/rep-bryan-steil-announces-full-recovery-from-covid-19/


– For many businesses, the outdoor heater is a survival accessory https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/11/30/for-many-businesses-the-outdoor-heater-is-a-survi.html 


– Small businesses ramp up PPP loan forgiveness requests — but the SBA still lags behind https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/11/30/ppp-loan-forgiveness-sba-requests-lag-behind.html 


– Groups trying to open golf to young people are struggling themselves https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/11/30/groups-trying-to-open-golf-to-young-people.html 


– Wisconsin Hotels Suffer As Pandemic Shows No Signs Of Relenting https://www.wpr.org/wisconsin-hotels-suffer-pandemic-shows-no-signs-relenting 


– Milwaukee County Transit System seeking contractors for bus rapid transit line https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/11/30/mcts-puts-out-rfq-for-bus.html 


– More than $100M in contracts issued for Waukesha water project as workers start laying pipe https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/11/30/more-than-100m-in-contracts-waukesha-water-project.html 

– How Biden’s Climate Goals Could Play A Big Role In Shaping Wisconsin’s Energy Future https://www.wpr.org/how-bidens-climate-goals-could-play-big-role-shaping-wisconsins-energy-future 


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