WED AM News: Researchers looking to treat depression with psychedelic mushrooms; Nygren says state’s financial position result of corporate, sales tax revenues

— Researchers at the nonprofit Usona Institute in Fitchburg are looking to improve how depression is treated by turning to an unorthodox medicine: psychedelic mushrooms. 

These so-called “magic mushrooms” contain a substance known as psilocybin, which has shown promising results in early clinical trials for patients with clinical depression. According to Charles Raison, a professor at UW-Madison’s School of Medicine and Public Health, psilocybin could provide a more effective treatment than standard antidepressants with little to no drawbacks. 

“Unlike regular antidepressants which take a couple weeks to really begin showing an effect usually, psilocybin shows a large effect within a day. People often feel much better, very very quickly,” he said yesterday during a webinar hosted by the Wisconsin Technology Council. 

Typical treatments for clinical depression, also called major depressive disorder, often involve prolonged use of antidepressants. But Raison says these medications don’t work for everyone, and in certain cases can harm certain patients by “weakening” their brain in the long-term. 

For certain people who have a strong response to antidepressants, symptoms can return with a vengeance if they stop treatment, and patients can even end up more depressed than before going on the drugs. And for others, research shows they would have fared better with a placebo alone, Raison said. 

“We need antidepressants, but we need new things too,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons psychedelics are so interesting.” 

Read the full story at 

— Joint Finance Committee Co-Chair Rep. John Nygren says the state is in a better financial position than he originally thought when the COVID-19 economic crisis began due in part to “some strong” corporate and sales tax revenues.

But the Marinette Republican warned at a Badger Institute virtual event yesterday “some tough decisions are ahead of us” as federal, state and local governments deal with simultaneously higher expenses and diminished tax revenue.

“If we don’t make our reductions in this second year of the budget, even though we are in a better position than we originally thought, the full impact is going to roll into the next budget,” he said.

Nygren criticized Gov. Tony Evers for not reducing state spending more. He said Evers’ previous announcement that he would cut 5 percent of executive spending was “actually only about 1 percent.”

Agencies earlier this summer trimmed $70 million to address anticipated shortfalls amid the pandmeic. The UW System accounted for about $41 million of the earlier cuts.

The guv has since said he would cut another $250 million from state agencies, though details have yet to be released. Nygren said he would be “waiting to see where that plays out.”

See more at 

— Like many companies, Pindel Global Precision has had to make a number of operational changes to adapt to the ongoing pandemic, some of which may persist beyond the current situation. 

The New Berlin manufacturer makes custom machine parts, and pivoted toward ventilators and other medical technology in the early phases of the pandemic response. The company has two 90,000-square-foot facilities and has attempted to reduce contact between workers by getting rid of “choke points” such as centralized break rooms. Company leaders instituted a mask requirement in March and have eliminated company meetings in physical spaces. 

Bill Berrien, CEO of Pindel Global Precision, spoke yesterday during a Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce webinar. He said employees have been holding meetings through virtual platforms and doesn’t expect that to end even if the pandemic situation improves. 

“Much like a lot of office space industries, we’ve seen the benefits of technology,” he said. “It’s actually more efficient in a lot of ways than gathering in a physical room and printing stuff out… I see that continuing on the positive side.” 

But at the same time, he noted much of the company’s sales have relied on physical contact, meeting with customers and traditional in-person sales efforts. 

“As we’ve gone to a no- or limited-visitor policy… we have to figure out how to navigate that the right way,” he said, calling it both a challenge and an opportunity. 

See an earlier story on the company: 

— Dr. Ben Weston, medical director for Milwaukee’s COVID-19 Emergency Operations Center, says the county is seeing a “fairly nice downtrend” in hospital capacity usage. 

During a webinar yesterday hosted by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Weston provided a cautiously optimistic overview for the county, which represents Wisconsin’s largest hotspot for the virus. 

“We do see for the first time yesterday, actually, we’ve had a statistically significant downward trend in our percent positive [tests] that we see here,” said Weston, who’s also a physician at the Medical College of Wisconsin. 

He explained the county has seen between 5 and 10 percent of tests come back positive “for quite a while,” with a recent peak in late July and early August where the rate was “just about hitting” 10 percent. But more recently, that percentage has come down to around 5 percent. 

He noted that the most recent data point is always subject to some change. But he added: “Either way, a nice downward trend that we’re seeing here. Hopefully we can sustain that. That’s going to be really important for the county moving forward.” 

As of Monday, Milwaukee County had 104 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, above the recent low point of 89 patients but still in line with a downward trend. 

“Hopefully we’ll continue this downward trend and see less and less hospitalized patients,” he said. “We do know that we have a lot of room to flex… so we do have a lot more hospital capacity. Hopefully we won’t have to use it.” 

Still, Weston added that the disease is still widespread in the county, with every census tract in the county being affected by COVID-19. But he emphasized the region is making progress in controlling the spread. 

“We’ve certainly seen a downtrend in our percent positive in Milwaukee County, which makes up the largest percentage of cases in the state. So I think we’re moving in a good direction.” 

See the county’s COVID-19 dashboard: 

— COVID-19 hospitalizations number 354, up 17 from the previous day, but still down from August’s peak of 414 patients, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association’s coronavirus data dashboard. 

COVID-19 ICU patients number 133, which is 12 more patients than the day before and 24 more than one week ago. 

About 62 percent of Wisconsin’s total COVID-19 patients — 219 — are in southeastern Wisconsin. The association also reports 53 or fewer patients in each of the six other public health regions of the state.

Health care workers continue to account for about 8 percent of confirmed COVID-19 cases at 5,841, according to DHS.

Meanwhile, the WHA data show that one hospital has a seven-day or less supply of goggles, one has limited N95 masks, three have a limited supply of gowns, and one hospital has limited paper medical masks.

See the WHA hospital dashboard: 

— Wisconsin is reporting 638 new COVID-19 cases and 13 deaths.

The seven-day average of daily confirmed cases rose slightly from 665 to 666 yesterday and the seven-day average for percent positive tests remained at 8 percent after the state received 9,987 tests.

The new cases bring the cumulative case count to 71,492, with 62,995 recovered. Meanwhile, 1.5 percent of patients have died with the death toll now at 1,094.

Counties reporting deaths include: Milwaukee (482), Racine (86), Waukesha (71), Kenosha (61), Brown (57), Dane (39), Rock (26), Walworth (26), Washington (26), Winnebago (21),  Outagamie (19),Ozaukee (18), Waupaca (17), Grant (16), Marathon (13), Fond du Lac (9), Clark (8), Sheboygan (8), St. Croix (7), Jefferson (6), Marinette (6), Eau Claire (6), Dodge (5), Pierce (5), Forest (4) and Richland (4). 

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

Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Green, Iron, Jackson, Juneau, La Crosse, Manitowoc, Marquette, Oconto, Rusk and Waushara counties report one death each.

See more coronavirus resources and updates: 

See a list of community testing sites: 

— The state Department of Workforce Development has received nine layoff notices from companies so far in August, five of which are from manufacturers. 

These notices cover 799 employees spread across eight counties: Washington, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Dane, Trempealeau, Portage, Eau Claire and La Crosse. 

Three companies provided notices of layoffs for more than 100 workers each. Helgesen, a fabricated metal products manufacturer in Hartford, is laying off 102 employees. Sentry Services, an insurer in Portage, is laying off 112 workers. And Wacker Neusen, a construction machinery manufacturer in Menomonee Falls, is laying off 186 employees. 

Five of the nine companies providing notice of layoffs cite the COVID-19 pandemic in their letters to DWD. 

See the latest layoff notices: 

— Lakeland University in Plymouth is getting a $29 million loan from the USDA to build two new residence halls, according to a recent release. 

The funding is coming from the agency’s Community Facilities Direct Loan and Grant Program, which supports projects at libraries, schools, clinics and other entities in rural areas. 

The new residence halls at Lakeland University will include 394 beds, replacing five existing dorms that have housed students since they were built nearly 70 years ago. Funding for these buildings was announced as part of a $46 million package of loans and grants for projects in 16 different states. 

See the full list of projects: 


# Visit Milwaukee sees 97 canceled events, $70 million loss from Covid-19

# Rockline investing $20 million to nearly double wipe production in Sheboygan

# Lawsuit seeks repeal of Wisconsin governor’s mask mandate



– Another near-perfect week in the farm fields


– Take a look at construction boom in Harbor District, Port Milwaukee: Slideshow


– Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity to hold public sessions


– WROF awards first-ever $10,000 premier scholarship


– With little known about long-term effects of COVID-19, some patients face a long haul


– Conservative group files lawsuit that would strike down Wisconsin’s mask mandate


– Harley-Davidson confirms not launching the Bronx streetfighter


– Charter invests $1 million in WWBIC


– Evers declares State of Emergency following Kenosha police shooting, protests


– HQ, manufacturing development in the works at Franklin site eyed by Carmex maker

– Moving work to New York creates sale-leaseback opportunity at Briggs & Stratton’s Burleigh plant

– River Hills to buy land for senior housing to end lawsuit


– Lawsuit seeks to strike down Wisconsin’s mask mandate


– Milwaukee Rep postpones upcoming season, announces modified lineup

– ‘Basketball shouldn’t even be on our mind right now’: Wisconsin athletes speak out on Jacob Blake shooting


<i>See these and other press releases: </i>

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Wisconsin theatre venues: Calling on Gov. Evers for support with funds from CARES act