TUE AM News: Forward Fest’s 11th year was successful as a virtual event; Central Wisconsin crops got needed rain, other areas saw continued dry spell

— Forward Fest’s success with a virtual platform may make for hybrid conferences in years to come. 

The Madison-based, entrepreneur-centric festival wrapped up on Aug. 20 for the 11th year — but this time on a virtual platform. Forward Fest spokesperson Hilary Stohs-Krause attributed the benefits of a virtual platform — no commute, no babysitter, no time off of work and no ticket — to an attendance increase. 

This year, Forward Fest attracted over 5,500 attendees, up from 4,303 the year before, from 16 different countries and 53 states and provinces. That’s a change from just two international attendees last year, Stohs-Krause told WisBusiness.com.

She said the virtual event was a way “to showcase what’s happening here in Madison and greater Wisconsin to people from all over the world.”

The attendee-run event hosted 48 events — close to the average from prior year; only three of them were in person. Stohs-Krause said event organizers were expected to comply with all state and local regulations. Some even pivoted to hosting the in-person event outdoors and had a reservation cap to meet mass gathering requirements. 

“Anecdotally, from people that I’ve talked to and events that I went to, the numbers of how many people came, I’m really happy with how things turned out,” she said. “We didn’t know what to expect. We were marketing the festival and taking the opportunity to have people look at this as an opportunity to attend if they never have before.”

Read the full story at WisBusiness.com: https://www.wisbusiness.com/?p=1454701 

— While central Wisconsin’s multiple rain events brought much needed moisture, other areas of the state saw no rain — worsening dry conditions, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. 

“In general, (the rain) will help alfalfa and pasture and anyone who has planted winter wheat, but not much of big help for most of the corn and soybean acres,” said UW-Madison Prof. Paul Mitchell. “Most acres are in their drying down phase already for most growers.”

Daytime highs in the upper 80s to low 90s at the beginning of the week ending Aug. 30 and temps in the mid-70s and lower for the weekend, gave Wisconsin 5.3 days suitable for fieldwork, summer vegetable harvesting and apple picking. 

Corn at dough stage or beyond was 88 percent, over a month ahead of last year and 11 days ahead of the five-year average. Corn dented was 45 percent, 17 days ahead of last year and four days ahead of the average; and conditions rated 80 percent good to excellent statewide, one percentage point below last week. 

Corn silage chopping was underway as harvest was 8 percent complete, about three weeks ahead of last year and two weeks ahead of the average. 

Soybeans setting pods were 96 percent, over a month ahead of last year and about a week ahead of the average. Twenty percent of soybeans were coloring, 12 days ahead of last year and four days ahead of the average. Soybean condition rated 82 percent good to excellent, same as last week. 

Small grain harvest neared completion. Oats harvested was 94 percent complete, over a month ahead of last year and about two weeks ahead of the average. 

Potato harvest was reported as 28 percent complete, 10 days ahead of last year and three days ahead of the average. Potato conditions rated 89 percent good to excellent, down four percentage points from last week. 

Winter wheat planting was underway as well last week at 12 percent complete, 18 days ahead of last year and 13 days ahead of the average. 

The third cutting of alfalfa was reported as 92 percent complete, 19 days ahead of last year and six days ahead of the average. The fourth cutting of alfalfa was reported as 22 percent complete, four days ahead of last year but five days behind the average. 

All hay conditions rated 74 percent good to excellent, down two percentage points from last week. Pasture conditions rated 62 percent good to excellent statewide, one percentage point above last week.

— White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx said there is now clear evidence that wearing masks and social distancing are effective tools at lowering the spread of COVID-19 in communities.

Following an in-person Capitol roundtable discussion yesterday in Madison, Birx told reporters that Wisconsinites need to continue wearing masks and practicing social distancing in order to prevent further outbreaks around the state.

She pointed to falling COVID-19 case numbers in various states across the southern part of the country, attributing much of those successes to the state governors issuing mask mandates and capacity limits for businesses.

“If we ever needed an evidence base of what these mitigation efforts can do when we work together, this is the evidence base,” she said. “It’s no longer theoretic. If we mitigate together as a community, we can stop the spread of this virus.”

In Wisconsin, Birx said she felt the “secret sauce” for the state is a public-private collaboration of efforts to lower the virus’ spread.

She said her team has worried about the Midwest since outbreaks began this summer throughout southern states. But she touted Wisconsin as a state that has shown “really the ability” to control community outbreaks in both urban and rural areas.

Birx also warned against creating large crowds at parties and barbecues over Labor Day weekend, saying those kinds of gatherings are havens for unintentionally spreading the virus to others.

“We know that’s how many of the outbreaks are occurring across the United States,” she said. “We feel fine, so we bring our grandparents and aunts and uncles together to share food and drink together and unknowingly we pass the virus along with our love and our care for each other unintentionally.”

And with many colleges starting in-person classes for the fall semester this week, she said any and all partygoers should assume they’ve “more than likely” been exposed to the virus and should get tested as soon as possible.

Birx is touring a series of Midwestern states to see how different communities are handling the pandemic. She said she’ll next visit Illinois, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

— In a matter of three days, under-19 age groups have added 238 confirmed COVID-19 cases to the total count.

So far, there have been 2,561 cases for the 0-9 age group, and 7,498 in the 10-19 group. These represent 3 percent and 10 percent of total cases, respectively.  

The state’s Department of Health Services said it’s likely not due to the few schools that have already begun in-person classes.   

If students have completed a 14-day quarantine, DHS doesn’t recommend schools require a negative COVID-19 test to return to school following contact with a COVID-19 case.

The department is not aware of any K-12 schools conducting testing, but recommends testing of all close contacts of a confirmed case.

Young people generally show little to no symptoms, and those ages 19 and under currently account for zero deaths in Wisconsin. However, those that are asymptomatic can spread the infection to those who are at a higher risk of severe illness. 

“Even those individuals that experience mild or no symptoms can spread the virus to others,” a DHS spokesperson told WisBusiness.com. “There is concern that children could spread the infection to others who have health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe illness, such as teachers, other students or others in their home.”

The 0-9 and 10-19 age groups have a 2 percent and 1 percent chance of needing hospitalization, according to the DHS coronavirus data dashboard. 

— Wisconsin’s seven-day average of daily confirmed cases dropped to 678 from 696 after adding 266 new COVID-19 cases, the lowest number of new cases since June 23.

However, the state only received a total of 3,818 tests, the lowest testing numbers since early May, so the daily percentage of positive tests per total tests is still above the desired 5 percent — at 7 percent. That is down from 10.5 percent.

The seven-day average for percent positive tests has been between 8 percent and 8.4 percent for the past several days.

The new cases bring the cumulative case count to 75,603 with 67,234 recovered. Meanwhile, 1.5 percent of patients have died and 7.7 percent have been hospitalized, a figure that continues to fall.

Individuals ages 20-29 make up 25 percent of the state’s confirmed COVID-19 cases, accounting for 18,919 cases cumulatively after adding 1,214 confirmed cases since last Monday. This is followed by people ages 30-39 at 17 percent, with 12,526 cases, adding 708 cases since last Monday. 

Two percent of the 20-29 age group and 4 percent of the 30-39 age group cases have been hospitalized. But each group accounts for under 1 percent of the state’s death toll at eight and 12 deaths, respectively.

Wisconsin National Guard teams have collected 420,443 specimens statewide through various testing sites. In addition, approximately 30 troops are working at a call center that informs people of their COVID-19 test results.

Click here for a list of community testing sites: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/testing.htm 

— The state’s COVID-19 death toll remains at 1,122. 

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (489), Racine (89), Waukesha (74), Kenosha (63), Brown (58), Dane (40), Washington (29), Walworth (27), Rock (26), Winnebago (21), Outagamie (20), Ozaukee (18), Grant (17), Waupaca (17), Marathon (13), Fond du Lac (9), Sheboygan (9), Clark (8), St. Croix (7), Eau Claire (6), Jefferson (6), Marinette (6), Dodge (5), Pierce (5), Forest (4) and Richland (4).

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

Ashland, Bayfield, Green, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Lincoln, Marquette, Portage and Rusk counties report one death each.

People ages 70-79 and 80-89 with confirmed cases together account for over half of the state’s deaths at 287 and 314 deaths, respectively. The age groups had an increase of five and 15 deaths over the past seven days.

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

— Yesterday marked International Overdose Awareness Day, and DHS is calling on state residents to call 911 if there is a suspected overdose.

From depressants to opioids to stimulants, all drug overdoses are a medical emergency.

“Drug overdose is a significant public health issue in Wisconsin, with devastating impacts on individuals, families, and communities,” said DHS Secretary Andrea Palm in a release. “Hundreds of people from all walks of life die or experience a permanent injury each year from a drug overdose in our state. These deaths and injuries are preventable and help is available.”

According to the DHS drug overdose dashboard, overdose deaths involving all drugs, excluding alcohol, increased by 10.5 percent in 2019, driven primarily by a nearly 10 percent increase in overdose deaths involving opioids.

There is evidence that the stress and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is contributing to more harmful drug use, according to DHS. 

Suspected opioid overdose emergency department visits increased 41 percent since the start of the pandemic in Wisconsin compared to the same time period in 2019 — from 1,196 to 1,688.

People who take opioids and their family and friends are strongly encouraged to carry naloxone, an opioid reversal medication. Naloxone is available without a prescription at pharmacies statewide and at no cost through the DHS NARCAN Direct Program.

Individuals struggling with any type of drug use can call 211 for the free and confidential Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline. The service has handled nearly 10,000 calls since it launched in October 2018.

See the overdose dashboard here: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/aoda/drug-overdose-deaths.htm 

— A second application period has opened for local “public safety answering points” to apply for a minimum of $624,000 in remaining funding by Nov. 30.

PSAPs are where 911 calls are routed from the 911 control office.

Funds come from a $2.9 million grant awarded to Wisconsin by the U.S. Department of Transportation and U.S. Department of Commerce. The Wisconsin Office of Emergency Communications applied for the federal grant earlier this year.

The first round of applications wrapped up in June 2020, when OEC announced the award of $2.1 million of those federal funds to 24 local PSAP grant projects.

See the first round of recipients here: https://dma.wi.gov/DMA/divisions/oec/library/2020/OEC-PSAP-Grants061720.pdf 


# Wisconsin tax collections nearly on target despite virus 


# Monday’s legislative session on policing policies ended after seconds and GOP leaders aren’t promising action later 


# Profits grow for Wisconsin banks in second quarter, defying national trend 




– WI Ag Leaders to Hold Virtual Town Hall on Future of Ag, Dairy http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=935&yr=2020 

– July All Milk Price Jumps to $22.30 Cwt. http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=936&yr=2020 

– Other Commodities Were Mixed in July http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=937&yr=2020 


– Landmark Credit Union branch proposed in Waukesha https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/31/landmark-credit-union-branch-proposed-in.html 


– UW-Madison move-in during COVID-19 era: Masks, rules and crossed fingers https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/education/university/uw-madison-move-in-during-covid-19-era-masks-rules-and-crossed-fingers/article_0e3f35b7-8cf7-5bd9-b927-c70e8d4078fc.html


– Advocate Aurora cites Covid-19 impact for $217M quarterly loss https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/31/advocate-aurora-cites-covid-impact-for-loss.html 

– Workplaces in Wisconsin investigated for Covid-19 outbreaks nears 1,000 https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/31/wisconsin-workplaces-investigated-for-covid-19-nea.html 

– UW Hospital Part Of COVID-19 Vaccine Study https://www.wpr.org/uw-hospital-part-covid-19-vaccine-study 


– Region’s manufacturing sector returns to growth for first time since January https://biztimes.com/regions-manufacturing-sector-returns-to-growth-for-first-time-since-january/ 

– No competing bids emerge for Briggs & Stratton, clearing path for KPS Capital acquisition https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/31/no-competing-bids-emerge-for-briggs-stratton.html 


– Journal Sentinel staff vacates historic downtown building slated for redevelopment https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/31/journal-sentinel-staff-vacates-downtown-building.html 


– Fiserv Forum And Miller Park To Be Used For Early Voting, Milwaukee Officials Say https://www.wpr.org/fiserv-forum-and-miller-park-be-used-early-voting-milwaukee-officials-say

– Kenosha mayor seeking $30 million in state aid to cover damages, rebuild after protests https://biztimes.com/kenosha-mayor-seeking-30-million-in-state-aid-to-cover-damages-rebuild-after-protests/ 


– Six-story, 144-unit apartment project proposed in Walker’s Point https://biztimes.com/six-story-144-unit-apartment-project-proposed-in-walkers-point/ 

– Financing nearly set, construction starts on world’s tallest timber tower in Milwaukee https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/31/foundations-being-dug-for-worlds-tallest-timber.html 


– As college towns empty out, small businesses struggle for survival https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/31/college-towns-job-cuts-campus-covid-19.html 


– Marcus Hotels expands Wisconsin layoffs, affecting 150 additional employees https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/31/marcus-hotels-expands-layoff-notices.html 


– Delta, other airlines eliminate change fees for most domestic flights https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/08/31/delta-change-fees-eliminated.html 


<i>See these and other press releases: 

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

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