TUE AM News: Extended release opioid treatment is aim of Plumb Pharmaceuticals; Small retailers to reopen will bring back 90,000 jobs

— WEDC chief Missy Hughes says Gov. Tony Evers’ move to allow small retailers to reopen will bring back around 90,000 jobs. 

Some small shops had balked at seeing big-box retailers continue to operate while they had been forced to shut down since March 25. The new order allows all standalone or strip-mall retail stores to offer in-person shopping, but with a limit of five customers in the store at a time.

The new order, which goes into effect immediately, also allows drive-in movie theaters to open with some restrictions.

“In addition to added flexibilities and steps we have already taken for businesses, this is another disciplined turn of the dial that will allow Wisconsin business owners to safely get back to work, and Wisconsin consumers to support their favorite local spots,” Evers said yesterday during a call with Hughes and Department of Health Services officials. 

Hughes noted the state has around 14,400 small retailers with 20 or fewer employees, calling the order a “really critical move in this concept of regaining momentum in our economy.” 

Restricting stores to no more than five customers at a time isn’t likely to encourage large retailers to open. 

“It’s focused on small retailers,” said Evers. “I don’t speak for Kohl’s Corporation, but I can’t imagine them opening their stores for five people.”

See the release: http://www.wispolitics.com/2020/gov-evers-announces-another-turn-of-the-dial-for-wisconsin-businesses/

— Another food processing plant in Wisconsin is dealing with a potential outbreak of COVID-19 while the nation’s largest meatpacking workers union is bashing President Trump for ordering meat plants to remain open. 

In Beaver Dam, a pizza and condiments maker called Richelieu Foods says it’s testing all 420 of its workers after eight tested positive for the virus. According to a report in the Fond du Lac Reporter, the plant was closed for the duration of last week as the National Guard helped with testing. 

In response to the president’s recent executive order directing meat plants to stay open during the pandemic, the JBS facility in Green Bay reopened soon after shutting down following hundreds of cases of COVID-19 being identified among its workers. 

But the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, which represents the workers at JBS Packerland along with nearly 250,000 others, is criticizing the order, arguing it doesn’t address factors leading to the widespread outbreaks at plants like these around the country. These include the need for more testing among workers and other safety measures, according to a report in the Green Bay Press-Gazette. 

Union President Marc Perrone says the president’s executive order will endanger lives and put the country’s food supply at increased risk, a report from Reuters shows. 

Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that at least two meatpacking workers in Wisconsin have died of COVID-19. According to the report, at least 835 of these workers at 16 plants around the state have tested positive for the virus. 

See more in headlines below. 

— Three goals of the governor’s Badger Bounce Back plan were met as DHS reported the state’s COVID-19 death toll at 409 — up nine people from the previous count.

Three of the six gating criteria for Evers’ plan were met as of yesterday, according to the state Department of Health Services. One of the metrics on confirmed cases improved from red to green over the weekend, but another related to flu-like illnesses flipped back from green to red. 

A color-coded dashboard at the DHS website indicates that 95 percent of all hospitals can treat all patients without resorting to lower “crisis standards” of care. Plus 95 percent of hospitals have affirmed they’ve arranged for testing of all symptomatic staff in line with CDC guidelines.

Today, Wisconsin has also seen a downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests over 14 days. 

Wisconsin’s share of positive cases per number of total tests are slowly declining over several days. A week ago, 9.9 percent of total tests came back positive, followed by Tuesday (8.6), Wednesday (8.4),Thursday (5.7), Friday (8.1), Saturday (7), Sunday (8) and Monday (6.5). 

But Wisconsin hasn’t seen a downward trajectory of “COVID-like” symptomatic cases over the last 14-day period, or a downward trend of COVID-19 cases among health care workers, calculated weekly.

The metric for influenza-like illnesses over the past 14 days was green at the end of last week, but has now reverted to red as the calculation incorporates new data from the most recent 14-day period. 

“These data can change on a daily basis as new information about cases is gathered or updated, which means the gating criteria status could change from red to green and back to red,” said DHS spokeswoman Elizabeth Goodsitt in an email. 

See the dashboard: http://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/prepare.htm 

— The state’s confirmed cases rose 199, bringing the cumulative confirmed case count to 10,418. 

An estimated 50 percent have recovered from COVID-19. That’s based on the number of confirmed cases who have at least documentation of resolved symptoms, documentation of release from public health isolation or 30 days since symptom onset or diagnosis. Forty-six percent of patients are still in that 30-day period.

DHS’s hospital dashboard also reports 340 COVID patients in hospitals statewide, an increase of eight patients since Sunday, and seven less than last Monday’s number of 347 patients.

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

Counties reporting deaths include Milwaukee (231), Waukesha (23), Dane (22), Brown (18), Kenosha (16), Racine (16), Rock (13), Walworth (10), Grant (9), Ozaukee (9), Clark (4) and Washington (4). 

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

Jefferson, Outagamie, Richland and Sheboygan 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 numbers above were as of yesterday.

Click here for coronavirus resources and information: http://www.wispolitics.com/wisconsin-coronavirus-resources/

— The state’s total testing capacity is 13,795 tests per day. However, only about 3,069 tests came back with results.

“We are looking to maximize the number of tests we’re doing every day,” DHS Secretary Andrea Palm said yesterday in a DHS briefing. She noted that the goal is about 12,000 tests per day.

“We are well within reach of that goal, but we are not utilizing on a daily basis the number of tests that we have available,” she said.

Palm noted that anyone who has symptoms — “even the mildest of symptoms” — to avail themselves of the community testing sites that are available and to call one’s health care provider and ask for a test. 

And Wisconsin appears to have an adequate supply of beds and ventilators.

ICU beds immediately available in the state number 446 out of 1,427 total in Wisconsin; intermediate care beds — 211 out of 896; surgical beds — 1,828 out of 7,233; and isolation beds — beds in negative pressure rooms meant for isolating patients — 1,169 out of 1,969.

Statewide, hospitals have a total of 1,257 ventilators and are using 340 of those for patients.

But PPE supplies are still lagging. Thirty-four hospitals in the state have a seven days or less supply of N95 masks, 42 have limited supply of gowns and 30 hospitals have limited paper medical masks.

— Evers also announced several community testing sites for COVID-19 are opening in Milwaukee and Madison. 

The sites are operated by the state Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin National Guard, and will be open to all residents for free walk-up or drive-through testing. 

Milwaukee has two sites, on the north and south sides of the city. They will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m seven days a week. Madison’s only site is located at the Alliant Energy Center and will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday. 

According to a release from Public Health Madison & Dane County, the Alliant site will be open until further notice. National Guards members will collect samples from people using tests from Madison-based Exact Sciences, the release shows. Test results are expected in three to five days. 

“A community test site combined with more capacity in health care to test people with mild symptoms will provide us with a more accurate understanding of community spread,” said Janel Heinrich, director of Public Health Madison & Dane County. 

— The Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association is hosting an online livestream and Q&A with a panel of UW experts to discuss the economic and financial fallout from COVID-19.

The series, “The UW Now,” will take place this evening at 7 p.m. 

Panelists include Ananth Seshadri, chair of the Department of Economics; Brad Tank, chief investment officer and managing director of Neuberger Berman Funds; and Noah Williams, director of the Center for Research on the Wisconsin Economy

The talks will be moderated by Mike Knetter, president and CEO of WFAA.

— To the construction industry, the term “plumb” means the material is straight and true. Plumb Pharmaceuticals aims to bring this concept to the drug addiction treatment space. 

Plumb Pharmaceuticals is a Madison-based company founded in 2016 by Timothy Heath and

Lisa Krugner-Higby with a solution for people trying to quit opioids. Plumb Pharmaceuticals has created a drug-delivery technology for extended-release medications, specifically to help the fight against opioid addiction.

The United States diagnoses 2.5 million people annually with opioid use disorder. Currently,

medication assisted therapies are the best on the market for treating OUD, according to Plumb’s founders. These therapies help suppress cravings by blocking opioid receptors. However, relapse occurs between  doses.

Heath and Krugner-Higby have created a solution to help lessen relapses. A formula of liposomes, much like a “microscopic water balloon,” is filled with medication is placed under the skin and slowly releases medications. The liposomes are filled with medications including naltrexone or buprenorphine. These medications help diminish opioid cravings and block receptors through extended release.

The technology requires a single dose four times per year. This dosage is significantly less than

Medication assisted therapies and significantly reduces the potential of relapse. In addition, this form of treatment allows for fewer clinic visits, thus reducing the financial burden for patients and treatment providers.

Read the full story at WisBusiness.com: https://www.wisbusiness.com/?p=1451997 

— Seven Wisconsin mayors joined a coalition of 70 municipal leaders to sign a letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. They want to uphold the Renewable Fuel Standard and reject a proposed waiver to blending obligations. 

According to the authors, the RFS waivers would “further damage our communities and the farmers, workers, and families who depend on a vibrant biofuels industry.”

The letter noted a decrease in demand for both gasoline and biofuels as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and waiving blending requirements will only hurt the biofuels industry more. 

“Some of us have already seen our local ethanol plant shutter its doors while others have witnessed their local ethanol plant reduce operations,” read the letter. “This is having devastating ripple effects throughout our economy.”

More than 70 plants nationwide have shut down while another 70 have cut production, according to the letter. Wisconsin is not immune. 

“Our local ethanol plant is a major driver of our economy, providing good paying jobs and supporting hard-working families across the region,” said Terry Taft, chairman of the Town of Necedah, home to Marquis Energy.

In just two months, more than half of U.S. ethanol production is offline, putting more than 350,000 jobs throughout rural America at risk, according to the letter. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the challenges facing farmers and plant workers,” said Taft. “Biofuels can lead the recovery in rural America, but we need our leaders in Washington to stand with us and protect biofuel markets so that we can continue to feed and fuel America.”

In addition to Taft, Wisconsin officials included: Anson Albarado, village president of Cadott; Scott Carter, village president of Necedah; Louis Armstrong, mayor of Monroe; Alan Haas, mayor of Stanley; Lee Herek, town chairman of Plymouth; Wayne Olson, town chairman of Fountain; and Gib Kreuger, village president of Boyceville.

See the letter: http://growthenergy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/5_11_2020-EPA-70-Mayors-Support-RFS-2.pdf

Read a previous WisBusiness.com story: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/corn-growers-ethanol-producers-urging-epa-to-follow-the-law-on-small-refinery-exemptions/

— Corn, soybean and oat farmers in Wisconsin are several weeks ahead of last year’s planting schedule, according to the most recent update from USDA. 

For the week between May 3 and May 10, corn planting was 59 percent complete, which is 24 days ahead of last year and one week ahead of the average. 

Meanwhile, soybean planting was 35 percent complete, which is also 24 days ahead of last year and nine days ahead of the average. 

And oat planting was 74 percent complete — 17 days ahead of last year and six days ahead of the average. 

The USDA release also shows potato planting was 67 percent done, which is six days ahead of last year and two days ahead of average. 

Spring planting is proceeding quickly due to clear, dry weather and “excellent” soil moistures allowing for midweek tractor work in the fields. Some farmers operating orchards and cranberry bogs expressed concern about overnight frosts affecting early budding crops. 

Get the latest update: http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Wisconsin/Publications/Crop_Progress_&_Condition/2020/WICP-051020.pdf 

See earlier reports for crops in Wisconsin: http://www.nass.usda.gov/Statistics_by_State/Wisconsin/Publications/Crop_Progress_&_Condition/index.php 


# Haribo sets to break ground in September for Pleasant Prairie gummi candy plant 


# New Jersey-based company to bring 300 tech jobs to Milwaukee

# Evers allows nearly all retail stores to open with limits




– Recipients of Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin grants named


– Loans available for farmers facing COVID related challenges



– New Evers order allows many retailers to open with limit on number of customers

– Independent Business Association of Wisconsin urges Evers to reopen state’s economy


– Majority of school districts request teaching hours waiver



– Second Wisconsin meatpacking worker dies of COVID-19; infections at food plants exceed 800


– COVID-19 pandemic has been ‘unmitigated disaster financially’ for Advocate Aurora, CEO says

– Free community testing for COVID-19 begins at Alliant Energy Center


– Free COVID-19 testing sites in Milwaukee, Madison draw thousands https://www.wpr.org/free-covid-19-testing-sites-milwaukee-madison-draw-thousands

– As businesses hope to reopen, COVID-19 hot spots emerge across state https://www.wpr.org/businesses-hope-reopen-covid-19-hot-spots-emerge-across-state


– Madison woman among US patients, businesses suing China over COVID-19 outbreak



– Briggs & Stratton sales down 30% in April, but home improvement activity picking up


– WeWork’s woes cause mortgage-backed bonds to tumble 



– New rules for retailers focused on small stores, purveyors of goods 


– Promoter seeks city permission for pyrotechnic event at Breese Stevens Field amid COVID-19 pandemic


– Retailers allowed to reopen with no more than 5 customers at a time under new order



– Some retailers, drive-in movie theaters can open under looser Covid-19 restrictions 


– Wisconsin retail stores allowed to reopen under new order



– Milwaukee Admirals named AHL champs after season cut short by coronavirus https://www.wpr.org/milwaukee-admirals-named-ahl-champs-after-season-cut-short-coronavirus


<i>See these and other press releases: 

http://wisbusiness.com/index.iml?Content=82 </i>