TUE AM News: Grocery stores adapt to consumer behavior; Evers administration announces dates for next round of broadband expansion grants

— Evolving consumer behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic will require grocers to rethink inventory, retool for expanded online shopping, constantly assess consumer demand and adapt to even more change.

This includes people slowly going back to restaurants.

“The hard part here is how long is this going to go,” said Brandon Scholz, president and CEO of the Wisconsin Grocers Association. As restaurants open up, Scholz predicts that people won’t flock to them — consumers have built a new routine. 

“We expect to see people going back to restaurants, but we don’t expect to see the amount of shopping and cooking and baking done at home decline back to levels let’s say where it was in January,” he said. “We see shoppers continue to shop at the pace that they have shopped at: once a week, bring a list, shop smart.”

As fear for public health and safety erupted during the COVID-19 pandemic, Wisconsin businesses had to adapt quickly to meet new regulations and consumer expectations. Essential businesses, such as grocery stores, had to quickly evolve as people depended on those businesses daily. 

In a matter of weeks, grocery stores were in need of workers, masks and plexiglass; signs above select products read: “no more than one per customer please”; price gouging dominated headlines; and eyes turned towards the floor to watch for tape indicating “six feet” or the direction in which to walk down the aisle.

Read the full story at WisBusiness.com: https://www.wisbusiness.com/?p=1452629 

— A Metropolitan Milwaukee Association Commerce statewide survey says many Wisconsin residents are hesitant to resume normal, everyday activities.

The week after Memorial Day, MMAC paid to survey 1,000 adults in Wisconsin about their willingness to do 15 different activities. The majority of respondents — 87 percent — said they are comfortable going grocery shopping. Sixty-nine percent are willing to visit family and 57 percent to visit friends. 

About half of the respondents said they are willing to go to a salon or work. 

Forty-one percent indicated that they would send their child to school or eat at a restaurant, while 35 percent would go to a mall and 33 percent are willing to stay in a hotel. 

But only 30 percent of respondents are willing to attend a church service. Even less — 23 percent — would go see a movie or fly on a plane. Twenty-one percent would go to a bar, while only 19 percent are willing to go to a health club or attend a large sporting event. 

“Regaining consumer confidence is the long-term key to recovery,” said MMAC in a statement. In partnership with the Medical College of Wisconsin, MMAC refers to its online toolkit with resources to help businesses keep employees and customers safe. 

The survey results show 72 percent of respondents are either very or somewhat concerned they will be infected with the coronavirus, and 56 percent say that people are not taking social distancing seriously enough.

According to MMAC, one in four respondents indicated that they know someone who has been infected with the coronavirus. 

See the MMAC online toolkit: https://coronavirus-mmac.org/smart-restart/toolkit/

See more coronavirus resources and updates: https://www.wispolitics.com/wisconsin-coronavirus-resources/ 

— The UW Now series will convene virtually this evening to hear from Dr. Ajay Sethi, an associate professor of population health sciences in the School of Medicine and Public Health.

Sethi, an expert in infectious diseases, also teaches the course titled, “Conspiracies in Public Health” at UW-Madison. As research demonstrates that conspiracy theories are widely known and highly predictive of health behaviors, Sethi prepares future health professionals to educate communities about important public health and medical interventions 

The event, put on by the alumni association, starts at 7 p.m. Sethi will be taking questions via live chat. 

Click here to request a reminder for the free event: https://www.allwaysforward.org/thanks-for-your-interest/?utm_source=uwnow_0609&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=cc20&utm_content=text

— Gov. Tony Evers and Public Service Commission Chairperson Rebecca Cameron Valcq announced key application dates for the next round of grants available from the Broadband Expansion Grant Program. 

Applications will be available on Sept. 1 and will be due on Dec. 1. The funding for the grants was appropriated in the 2019-2021 state biennial budget.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the critical need for broadband service. With many working from home, distance learning for our children, and health care through telemedicine as the only option for some, broadband internet is an essential service,” Evers said in a statement. “Too many in our state lack access and with this funding, we need to look at those who are most affected by this pandemic and target these dollars to connect them.”

In this grant round, $24 million is available to applicants to help expand high-speed broadband internet to unserved areas of the state.

“Broadband access is an essential catalyst to drive community, public safety, learning, health, and economic goals across the state of Wisconsin,” Valcq said. “Governor Evers and the PSC have a strong commitment to the continued equitable expansion and use of broadband services to meet the needs of all Wisconsin communities and residents.”

See the release: https://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/gov-evers-announces-dates-for-2021-broadband-expansion-grant/ 

— Gov. Tony Evers named members to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity. 

Evers first revealed he would create the commission in his January State of the State address, saying it would be tasked with long-term strategies for supporting rural Wisconsin. 

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Wisconsin’s rural communities were facing challenges to their very survival,” the guv said in a statement yesterday. “It is more important than ever to listen to the concerns of our rural residents and support them in finding solutions.”

The commission contains 12 community and business leaders throughout the state. 

They include: Bob Atwell, president and CEO of Nicolet National Bank in Green Bay; Brittany Beyer, executive director of Grow North in Rhinelander; and Rachel Sauvola, agriscience teacher at New Richmond High School, among others. 

Listening sessions will begin later in the summer and cover the impact of COVID-19 on rural communities, according to the release, with logistical and administrative support from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. 

See more: https://www.wispolitics.com/2020/gov-evers-announces-appointments-to-blue-ribbon-commission-on-rural-prosperity/  

— The state’s COVID-19 death count is at 646, one less than Sunday due to DHS having to remove a duplicate entry. This is the first time that Wisconsin hasn’t had a new death since March 21. 

DHS removed the one death from Milwaukee’s count. The department has said corrections or updates may lead to changes to the data, such as deaths going down. 

The number of recovered patients continues to rise, now at an estimated 68 percent, while 3 percent of patients have died. Twenty-nine percent are still in a 30-day waiting period of symptom onset or diagnosis.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (325), Racine (47), Brown (38), Kenosha (34), Waukesha (33), Dane (29), Rock (21), Walworth (17), Ozaukee (13), Grant (12), Washington (9), Outagamie (8), Winnebago (7), Fond du Lac (6), Clark (4), Dodge (4) and Richland (4).

Door, Jefferson, Marinette, Sauk and Sheboygan counties report three deaths each. Buffalo and Forest counties report two deaths each.

Adams, Bayfield, Burnett, Calumet, Columbia, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Marathon, Marquette, Monroe, Polk, Waupaca and Wood counties report one death each.

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

— Plus, 203 new COVID-19 cases brings the cumulative case count to 21,038. Despite a drop in confirmed cases, the positive tests as a percentage of total tests yesterday rose to 2.7 percent from 2.3 percent Sunday.

The state recorded 7,589 total tests yesterday, far short of the state’s daily lab capacity of 15,508 tests.

To date, the state has administered over 354,000 tests, with the Wisconsin National Guard responsible for administering over 101,000 of those. 

The National Guard has ongoing coronavirus testing sites statewide, supporting the state’s initiative to increase COVID-19 testing. A total of 25 specimen collection teams made up of nearly 600 citizen soldiers and airmen are involved in the mobile testing sites.

Community-based testing sites are located at the Alliant Energy Center in Dane County, Mauston High School in Juneau County, Western Technical College in La Crosse County, and United Migrant Opportunity Services and Custer Stadium in Milwaukee County.

The Guard is conducting site-based testing in Oakfield in Fond du Lac County, a long-term care facility in Shorewood in Milwaukee County, the Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility, and in Janesville in Rock County.

— COVID-19 hospital patients statewide number 322, up from Sunday but still down significantly from last week.

About 76 percent of those patients — 244 — are in southeastern Wisconsin, also up from Sunday.

According to data from the Wisconsin Hospital Association, the state’s COVID-19 ICU patients is at 110, only three more than Sunday, but down from last week. COVID-19 inpatients with pending tests number 206, 23 more than Sunday.

Of the state’s confirmed cases, 14 percent have been hospitalized and 3 percent have received intensive care, according to DHS.

The department also reports that 34 or fewer patients are in each of the six other public health regions of the state.

WHA data show that statewide, Wisconsin seems to have an adequate supply of beds and ventilators. Hospitals have a total of 1,269 ventilators and 319 ventilated patients.

ICU beds immediately available in the state number 398 out of 1,482 total in Wisconsin; intermediate care beds — 211 out of 839; surgical beds — 1,531 out of 7,225; and isolation beds — beds in negative pressure rooms meant for isolating patients — 980 out of 1,945.

But according to data from DHS, southeastern Wisconsin has only 22 percent of its beds available, appearing to be on the rise after hitting a low of 18 percent Sunday. 

— Hospitals continue to lack personal protective equipment for health care workers.

The WHA data show that 28 hospitals have a seven-day or less supply of face shields, 43 have a limited supply of goggles, 33 have limited N95 masks, 37 have a limited supply of gowns and 28 hospitals have limited paper medical masks.

Health care workers account for about 10 percent of COVID-19 confirmed cases — 2,067. 

— The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says it has increased the income thresholds for the Emergency Food Assistance Program.

The increase’s intention is to give more households an opportunity to get food. Households with incomes below 300 percent of the federal poverty level are now eligible to receive a monthly share of food from a food pantry, according to a release from DHS. 

The new income threshold is $38,280 for a household of one, almost $15,000 more than the previous threshold — $23,606. The larger the household, the higher the income threshold.

“Good nutrition is foundational, and we want to help ensure families in need of assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic have access,” said DHS Secretary Andrea Palm in a statement. “By increasing the income limit … more Wisconsinites can receive or supplement their food supplies without risk of losing the benefits they receive from other programs.”

The food pantry provides locally grown, Grade-A foods that include meat, vegetables, and fruit.

The new policy went into effect on June 1 statewide and will affect all pantries from the first day they open this month, since some pantries are only open once or twice a month, according to the release.

See the release: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/news/releases/060820.htm 


# Evers administration won’t say why a state top public health official was asked to resign 


# 100 public defenders march in support of black lives in Downtown Madison 




– Don’t Forget About African Swine Fever https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/06/08/dont-forget-about-african-swine-fever/ 

– Sausage Recalled In West Bend Area https://www.midwestfarmreport.com/2020/06/08/sausage-recalled-in-west-bend-area/

– Wisconsin Growers Can Still Use Dicamba Until Further Notice http://www.wisconsinagconnection.com/story-state.php?Id=617&yr=2020


– Amid continued COVID-19 concerns, Green Bay schools using parent survey to plan for next school year https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/education/2020/06/08/green-bay-school-district-using-survey-gauge-how-plan-next-school-year-amid-continued-covid-19/3156011001/  

– UW Schools Are Planning to Resume In-Person Classes in the Fall https://upnorthnewswi.com/2020/06/08/uw-schools-are-planning-to-resume-in-person-classes-in-the-fall/

– UW-Madison again scores highly in world university rankings https://news.wisc.edu/uw-madison-again-scores-high-in-world-university-rankings-2/ 


– Johnson Controls pushes back on DNR order to test more wells https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/local/wisconsin/2020/06/08/forever-chemicals-johnson-controls-pushes-back-dnr-well-test-order-pfas-tyco-fire-protection-product/3154408001/  


– New Paycheck Protection Program guidelines to help small businesses https://biztimes.com/new-paycheck-protection-program-guidelines-to-help-small-businesses/ 


– Wisconsin nursing home staff face low wages, demanding work. How do you get them to stay? https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/2020/06/08/wisconsin-nursing-home-staff-face-low-wages-workforce-shortage-grows/5243197002/ 

– Why are Wisconsin nursing homes closing when we need them even more? https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/in-depth/news/2020/06/08/wisconsin-nursing-homes-close-unprecedented-rate-residents-moved/5174903002/ 

– Where do people at the most risk from COVID-19 live in Wisconsin? https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/money/business/health-care/2020/06/08/where-do-people-most-risk-covid-19-live/5315746002/ 

– Find out which Wisconsin hospitals got their share of $1.7B in interest-free federal cash advances https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/06/08/wisconsin-hospitals-get-17b-in-interest-free-fed.html 


– Jason Industries plans bankruptcy filing as part of restructuring agreement https://biztimes.com/jason-industries-plans-bankruptcy-filing-as-part-of-restructuring-agreement/

– EmbedTek’s new technology assists manufacturers in contact tracing https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/06/08/embedteks-new-technology-assists-manufacturers-in.html 


– Art brings messages of solidarity, protest and large swaths of color to State Street https://lacrossetribune.com/news/state-and-regional/art-brings-messages-of-solidarity-protest-and-large-swaths-of-color-to-state-street/article_0b0232f7-6695-5d43-840c-2fb4195f50cd.html 

– More than 1,000 people demonstrate downtown in call for police reform https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/2020/06/07/george-floyd-protests-protesters-march-police-reform-green-bay/3134037001/ 

– George Floyd killing sparks a small protest in Oconto https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/local/oconto-county/2020/06/05/george-floyd-killing-sparks-small-protest-oconto/3154956001/ 


– InitiativeOne plans expansion of downtown Green Bay offices to keep up with growth of its leadership training programs https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/money/2020/06/08/green-bay-leadership-training-firm-initiativeone-expanding-downtown-keep-up-growth/5319308002/


– Bucks players, execs join thousands of protesters in downtown Milwaukee https://biztimes.com/bucks-players-execs-join-thousands-of-protesters-in-downtown-milwaukee/  

– With NFL’s social distancing protocols for players’ return to facilities, Packers have work to do https://madison.com/wsj/sports/football/professional/with-nfls-social-distancing-protocols-for-players-return-to-facilities-packers-have-work-to-do/article_c3010543-d6ae-5f90-a13b-faa8c3b9e4eb.html

– With Wisconsin college football season uncertain, stage is set for athletic department showdowns https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/06/08/college-football-budget-cuts-athletic-coaches.html 


– Beaches low-risk if swimmers keep their distance, officials say https://www.leadertelegram.com/covid-19/beaches-low-risk-if-swimmers-keep-their-distance-officials-say/article_f5b03cdb-8cc5-5fb8-99d8-3127cfac18cc.html 

– Country Fest canceled this year because of COVID-19 https://www.leadertelegram.com/news/daily-updates/country-fest-canceled-this-year-because-of-covid-19/article_8b637b37-4f05-59f6-827d-aae4798b5740.html 

– Milwaukee County Zoo sets capacity at 1,500 during slow return to normal https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/06/08/zoo-director-wikenhauser-says-reopening-capacity-w.html 

– Newaukee Night Market latest summer event canceled because of pandemic https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/news/2020/06/08/newaukee-night-market-latest-summer-event-canceled.html 


<i>See these and other press releases: 

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