WED AM News: Pindel CEO says low profits making ventilator parts will pay off; Near West Side Products educates residents on COVID-19

— Pindel Global Precision CEO Bill Berrien says his company isn’t making much of a profit on critical ventilator parts after shifting production to provide these high-demand materials. 

But he expects the connections being made with the companies that assemble these machines will pay off in other ways. 

“There’s not much margin on these parts; you’ve got a lot of expediting, overtime — so it really is close to at-cost,” Berrien said yesterday during a webinar hosted by the Milwaukee Rotary Club. “But the hope is it leads to some great relationships going into the future.” 

Pindel is one of many companies in Wisconsin that leveraged existing resources to start making products needed for the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. The business was already considered essential, as it produced parts for the medical field, but Berrien said he wanted to help fill the massive demand for the ventilators needed to keep certain COVID-19 patients breathing. 

While making the ventilator parts has caused some other customers’ orders to be delayed, he said the “rest of the business is staying around 80 percent strong.” Over the past week or so, he said Pindel has seen the number of orders drop slightly. But he said that’s more likely due to factors in the oil and gas market than anything virus-related. 

Berrien explained the company gets about 30 percent of its revenue from products shipped to Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Ireland, France and Poland. As these companies each grapple with their own challenges associated with the pandemic, he expects the “next week will tell where the rest of the business has been going.”

Read the full story at  

— Keith Stanley, executive director for Near West Side Partners in Milwaukee, says the organization is stepping up efforts to educate local residents about the dangers of COVID-19. 

“Even though many of us have gotten that message, many of our residents haven’t,” he said yesterday during a webinar hosted by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce. “They live in a lot of multi-units, there’s still a lot of activity going on … So we’re going to be working to use more graphics, more videos to keep the message simple about slowing the spread.” 

He noted communities in this area tend to have lower education levels and more hourly workers, and stressed the importance informing residents about the impact of social distancing. As “hot spots” for the virus continue to be identified in Milwaukee, Stanley explained that intergenerational living is contributing to bad outcomes for African-American residents of the state. 

“We see that quite a bit in our community,” he said. “That’s been difficult as we’ve tried to slow the spread.” 

Still, he said local residents are starting to warm to the idea of wearing protective masks in public to lower the risk of spreading the disease. This trend is being seen in other areas of the state as well. 

As the daily case growth and doubling rate of new cases continue on a positive trend, Medical College of Wisconsin President Dr. John Raymond says conversations can start to begin about “when and how to responsibly restart sections of our economy.” But he cautioned the improvement doesn’t mean social distancing is no longer required. 

“We cannot declare victory,” he said in an earlier briefing. “On the contrary, we’ve dodged a bullet. But we must understand that the gun is still pointed at us, and that there are more bullets in the chamber.” 

He noted that once social distancing guidelines are relaxed, an increase in new cases is likely and an “overwhelming surge” is possible if the transition isn’t approached thoughtfully. 

“We need to get the balance right,” Raymond said. 

— UW-Madison researchers say that until there is a coronavirus vaccine, there needs to be a happy medium between less restrictive physical distancing vs. contact tracing and widespread coronavirus testing.

According to Malia Jones, scientist at the UW Applied Population Lab, herd immunity is needed to have ongoing control over covid-19 and to “return society to something like what it was before the pandemic hit.”

But there are a number of complications to that solution, she told viewers as part of WARF’s series, “Crossroads of Ideas.”

“The way to achieve herd immunity is through a vaccine,” said Jones. And she doesn’t expect a vaccine for at least 18 months.

“In the meantime, we need to understand the more conservative approach to physical distancing that allows some elements of society and the economy to begin to recover.”

Jones said that relaxing physical distancing safely relies on being able to test for coronavirus widely, have few circulating cases, and strong contact tracing.

“For now, until we have those elements and others in place, we really need to continue to engage in physical distancing or we face a very swift return to where we were a month ago in terms of a second epidemic wave,” she said.

Ajay Sethi, professor at the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, echoed Jones’ analysis in the online panel discussion.

“We are in a mitigation phase and we must get back to containment,” he said. “We need to greatly expand testing once and for all and carry out aggressive contact tracing to finally get ahead of this pandemic.”

Sethi said that whether people can sustain physical distancing is a big question. He is skeptical that the curve can go from flattening to not there at all in less than 10 days when Wisconsin’s stay-at-home order is set to expire.

“If it is not extended or an alternative equally effective solution is not put in place, we’re at risk for a second wave of COVID-19,” he said.

Watch the webinar here: 

— Wisconsin deaths have climbed to 170 as a result of COVID-19, with 100 of them in Milwaukee County, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

That’s 16 more deaths statewide since Monday and 127 new confirmed cases, which result in a cumulative case count of 3,555. Of those confirmed cases, 30 percent have been hospitalized, according to DHS.

Still, DHS says Gov. Tony Evers’ “safer at home” order is working. See more in the next item.

Counties reporting the most deaths are Milwaukee (101), Dane (12), Ozaukee (9) and Waukesha (9).

Racine County reports five deaths. 

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

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

Brown, Buffalo, Columbia, Dodge, Door, Grant, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, Kewaunee, Marathon, Waupaca, Walworth 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).

Over 94 percent of patients who die from COVID-19 are over the age of 50. 

In Wisconsin, women make up 53 percent of the confirmed cases, but account for 39 percent of deaths. Meanwhile, men make up 47 percent of confirmed cases, but account for 61 percent of the total deaths. 

The African American community in Wisconsin makes up 25 percent of the confirmed cases, but accounts for 41 percent of the deaths. 

Click here for coronavirus resources and information: 

— Wisconsin’s rate of doubling coronavirus infections is now about 12 days after early March’s grim rate of 3.4 days, according to DHS.

“The Safer at Home order has been our main intervention in Wisconsin, and we are beginning to see the results,” Chief Medical Officer and State Epidemiologist Dr. Ryan Westergaard said in a statement. “Without effective treatments or a vaccine, the only way to slow the spread of COVID-19 is through non-pharmaceutical interventions that help us maintain physical distancing.”  

Early models from DHS projected a 22,000 infections by April 8, which would have resulted in between 440 to 1,500 deaths. The numbers were based on Wisconsin’s exponential growth in cases early on in the pandemic that have now been decreasing. 

“We will continue to work through our statewide response to develop capacity to implement effective containment strategies across the state,” said DHS Secretary Andrea Palm. “These are critical next steps to prevent a future surge of cases.”

See the release: 

— The State of Wisconsin Board on Aging and Long Term Care is walking back a recommendation directing people to stop making “window visits” at long-term care facilities. 

In a memo Monday, the board advised to “not visit anyone face to face, either in a long-term care setting or outside in the community… this now includes not making ‘window visits’ at any nursing home or assisted living community.”

The board says it aimed to recognize viral spread in long-term care settings as well as Gov. Tony Evers’ “safer at home” order. But the board has now retracted yesterday’s suggestions and released another memo that doesn’t include the directive on window visits. 

“We did not intend to recommend prohibiting allowed essential activities such as waving to a resident through a closed window or providing care essential to someone’s health and safety,” said the board. “We apologize for any confusion.” 

According to the board, the original recommendation was an attempt to respond to contact such as kissing through a screen, hugging through an open window and not maintaining social distancing during the state’s stay-at-home order. 

The board was also attempting to address concerns for residents with dementia “who are confused when visitors they do not know may be looking inside their windows or visiting at nighttime.”

See the updated memo:

— EdTech startup Fiveable and mobile app Altruize have partnered on webinars that allow students to share their COVID-19 pandemic experiences to help others. 

According to Altruize’s release, the webinars will also discuss hope, direction and utilizing resources. The first live stream started yesterday at 4 p.m and will go through at least the end of April, according to Nicole Sdao, founder of Altruize’s parent company, LetsThrive360.

According to Sdao, the series is to “help people be better intentionally.”

“There are so many ways to still share with each other and be selfless both during and because of this COVID-19 event. I see Altruize as a way to help encourage our students to get involved and be impactful,” said Amanda DoAmaral, founder and CEO of Fiveable, a social learning platform for Advanced Placement (AP) students.

See an earlier story on Fiveable: 

Watch an episode of WisBusiness: The Show with Fiveable here: 

Listen to a podcast with LetsThrive360: 


# Evers, Dr. Raymond weigh in on when Wisconsin can reopen the economy

# Wisconsin tourism agency focuses on small business support and adjusted marketing campaign

# Wisconsin utilities seek future returns on pandemic expenses, losses

# Wisconsin Assembly approves bill responding to COVID-19 pandemic



– Wisconsin farm bankruptcies rising rapidly as coronavirus weighs heavily on agriculture

– More Wisconsin farmers hit the fields last week


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


– WisDOT’s April letting attracts nearly a dozen single bids


– Spread of COVID-19 state cases stabilizing; time nears to discuss restarting economy: Medical College CEO

– Unemployment claims, calls skyrocket in Wisconsin


– Racine’s $1 billion school referendum appears to pass by 5 votes

– A near-record year for Wisconsin school referendums as most districts approve new funding 


– Wisconsin seeks feedback on earlier, longer deer season in online survey that replaces county hearings  

– Preliminary findings show elevated levels of ‘forever chemicals’ found in wells nearby fields


– 14 long-term care facilities in Dane County have cases of coronavirus

– Suicide hotline workers are taking on the burden of others during the coronavirus pandemic. But, as calls spike, who is looking after them?

– Cash-strapped and volunteer-dependent, rural EMS providers scramble to keep responders safe

– Study identifies barriers and motivators to physical distancing among Wisconsin residents


– Quad employee at West Allis plant among those to die from COVID-19


– Wysocki joins MKE Lifestyle Magazine as publisher


– Joe Biden tops Bernie Sanders to capture Wisconsin’s Democratic presidential primary 

– Former ag secretary-designee Pfaff considering Senate run


– Milwaukee leaders back Wisconsin Center expansion, revenue-sharing agreement

– Home sales in Milwaukee metro increased 12 percent in March, momentum could carry into coming weeks


– Brewers, Bucks launch relief funds for stadium employees


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

– Local health officials discourage leaving town during pandemic

– Western Wisconsin tourism in good standings to bounce back after pandemic 


– Foundations of We Energies and WPS commit $1 million to COVID-19 relief efforts


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