TUE AM News: Organic Valley CEO concerned about fallout of ‘pending recession’; DHS Secretary says ‘we are flattening the curve’

— The CEO for Organic Valley says he’s concerned about potential impacts of a “pending recession” on organic dairy, though the conventional dairy market has been hit much harder by the pandemic so far. 

During a recent webinar hosted by WEDC chief Missy Hughes, Bob Kirchoff noted that organic dairy is considered a premium product, and that could cause issues for the industry if consumer preferences shift due to the economic downturn. 

“Our farmers, we pay so they can make a sustainable living milking 72 cows on the dairy side,” Kirchhoff said. “They have a different economic platform than those large industrial farmers — who are our neighbors and our friends.” 

Some conventional dairy farmers in Wisconsin have been asked by producers to dump their milk, as demand has fallen sharply with the closure of schools and restaurants. According to Kirchoff, “we haven’t seen any of that on the organic dairy side.” 

He explained most of the milk being dumped was likely destined to be processed into food service items like bulk cheese — “things like that, that are heavy-use.” He noted 38 percent of all meals are typically eaten outside of the home, so producers of products like these have faced a sudden lack of buyers during the pandemic. 

“From that point, the conventional sector has suffered, prices have fallen pretty hard,” he said. 

See more: http://www.wisbusiness.com/?p=1451303 

— The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports 154 deaths in Wisconsin due to COVID-19 and 3,428 confirmed cases. That’s 10 more deaths and 87 new cases since Sunday, but the department secretary declares “we are flattening the curve.”

DHS Secretary Andrea Palm noted in a press call a decrease in exponential growth of daily confirmed cases. 

Of those confirmed cases, 29 percent have been hospitalized, according to DHS.

Counties reporting the most deaths are Milwaukee (94), Dane (12), Ozaukee (9) and Waukesha (7).

Racine and Kenosha counties report four deaths. Washington and Rock counties report three deaths each.

Fond du Lac, Outagamie, Sauk and Sheboygan counties report two deaths each.

Brown, Buffalo, Columbia, Grant, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Marathon, Waupaca and Winnebago counties report one death each.

Twenty percent of patients who have tested positive for coronavirus are between the ages of 50-59. This is followed by people 60-69 (18 percent) and 40-49 (16 percent).

In Wisconsin, women make up 53 percent of the confirmed cases, but account for 40 percent of deaths. Meanwhile, men make up 47 percent of confirmed cases, but account for 60 percent of the total deaths. 

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

— UW-Madison has announced that a COVID-19 patient at UW Hospital has received the first transfusion of plasma from a local patient who has recovered.

The UW School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Health are studying whether plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 can help shorten the duration or severity of others with the illness, according to the release.

“The idea of using blood from someone who has already recovered from a disease to treat a patient who is fighting that same sickness has been around for more than 100 years, and it has since been used to treat outbreaks of other diseases, such as diphtheria, Spanish flu and Ebola,” said SMPH Professor William Hartman in a statement. 

SMPH is part of a nationwide effort led by Mayo Clinic and includes more than 40 institutions investigating the use of plasma as a treatment for coronavirus.

“While we are hopeful that it will provide similar benefits for patients who are sick with COVID-19, we just don’t know the answer yet,” said Hartman.

See the release: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/uw-madison-plasma-from-recovered-covid-19-patients-tested-as-therapy-at-uw-health/ 

— Despite slowed growth of confirmed COVID-19 cases, Gov. Tony Evers said Wisconsin is not in a position to make a decision on whether his “Safer at Home” order will be extended.

“We are not prepared to make a statement about that at this time,” he said.

Evers said his administration will be “having conversations” with business groups and health care professionals before making a decision but indicated that a change in the public health care system will be a driving force in ending the stay-at-home order. The order is currently set to expire April 24.

“It’s more than just saying ‘hey on May 15 it’s going to be all better,’” said Evers. “Whatever it is, it’s not going to be flipping a switch — it’s going to be making sure we have a public health system in place so we don’t return to where we are today.”

According to Evers, in order for Wisconsin to get to a place that’s “maybe less restrictive,” the public health system needs to “look different.” Evers noted a laundry list of things needed to make that happen such as more testing and more contact tracing.

“All of those things are going to have to happen if we don’t want to be sitting here talking next year at this time about the same thing,” he said. “It has to be done carefully.’

— Sixteen percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin are healthcare workers, while 36 percent may or may not be, according to the state Department of Health Services. But Secretary Andrea Palm says the agency is taking steps to mitigate health worker shortages due to sickness.

The agency has a volunteer registry for people to sign up if they want to be available if health care workers in one location get sick and need temporary replacement. The system matches people who are qualified to meet the needs of the facility. 

DHS classifies health care workers as nurses, physicians, surgeons, physician assistants, support staff, technicians, paramedics, dentists, dental workers and pharmacists.

“We have done a number of things in the last couple of weeks around licensure and relaxing administrative rules,” said Palm. 

This includes allowing retirees to renew their licenses, interstate reciprocity and other flexibilities “designed to expand the pool of folks who can pitch in and help should a healthcare facility get into a situation where they’ve got a number of healthcare workers out sick and need some assets for them.” 

— Three software design teams have been chosen as finalists in the WiSys APPStart Challenge, which helps support smartphone app ideas coming out of UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay and UW-La Crosse. 

UW-Green Bay student Celine Massereau is creating an app to connect consumers with eco-friendly products called VIGRID. And Erin Hanson, deputy director of athletics for UW-La Crosse, is developing an app called Team Travel for coaches and sports teams to coordinate travel logistics. 

The third finalist team includes UW-Eau Claire alums Aaron Accola and Ethan Kilgore and current student Christian Hoyer. The ALO: Photo app aims to give freelance photographers a platform for displaying portfolios and scheduling photoshoots. 

According to a release, the contest winner will be announced this summer and will receive a $5,000 prize. The runners-up will get smaller cash awards. More than 40 ideas were initially submitted last year, and a pitch contest near the end of 2019 narrowed down the nine semifinalists to these three competitors. 

The teams have been working with Small Business Development Centers to create business plans, and their app prototypes are being created with assistance from Madison-based Noble Applications and the UW-Parkside App Factory. 

See the release: http://www.wisbusiness.com/2020/wisys-announces-three-wisys-appstart-challenge-finalists/ 

— The Democratic National Convention Committee has launched a revamped website for the party’s national convention in Milwaukee planned for the week of August 17.

The website has enhanced accessibility features and all content is available in English and Spanish, according to a release.

See the new website:


See the release:


# Wisconsin Legislature releases coronavirus response bill


# VISIT Milwaukee launches website highlighting area hotels offering discounted rates to first responders, essential personnel

# DNC Committee updates Milwaukee message: ‘Getting ready for August’




– Trump Campaign sues Northwoods TV Station for airing COVID-19 attack ad http://www.wpr.org/trump-campaign-sues-northwoods-tv-station-airing-covid-19-attack-ad


– USDA announces program details for farms that dump milk



– Drop-offs, drive-ups and digital classrooms: How Wisconsin schools are handling coronavirus http://www.wpr.org/drop-offs-drive-ups-and-digital-classrooms-how-wisconsin-schools-are-handling-coronavirus


– Storm system leaves foot of snow in northern Wisconsin



– Wisconsin lenders ready to shell out hundreds of millions in Paycheck Protection Program loans 


– Compeer providing $830,000 to support COVID-19 relief efforts



– State looks to have COVID-19 care clinic at Alliant Energy Center

– State capitol report: Lawmakers weigh state aid for pandemic http://www.wpr.org/state-capitol-report-lawmakers-weigh-state-aid-pandemic

– North Shore Healthcare to move HQ from Glendale to downtown Milwaukee

– DHS: 3,428 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin



– State capitol report: Unemployment increases during pandemic http://www.wpr.org/state-capitol-report-unemployment-increases-during-pandemic

– The Latest: Lands’ End furloughs 70% of corporate employees



– Fiserv’s CEO, president take 100% pay cuts amid coronavirus pandemic


– Popular brand name businesses among those aiding coronavirus response http://www.wpr.org/popular-brand-name-businesses-among-those-aiding-coronavirus-response 

– Jagdfeld: Coronavirus brings increased demand and new challenges to Generac


– GOP state lawmakers release bill responding to COVID-19 pandemic


– Wisconsin lawmakers release COVID-19 response bill; Legislature poised to act this week



– Farm Tech Days postponed to 2021 in Eau Claire County



– EAA: Fate of AirVenture 2020 likely to be decided in May http://www.wpr.org/eaa-fate-airventure-2020-likely-be-decided-may


<i>See these and other press releases: 

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UW-Madison: Plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients tested as therapy at UW Health