MON AM News: Eighteen counties showing high levels of COVID activity; Exact Sciences remains committed to expanding in Madison despite layoffs

— Eighteen counties in Wisconsin have moved to the “high” category in a CDC measure, reflecting rising case numbers and hospital burden from COVID-19. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, residents of those counties with high community levels are recommended to wear masks in public, indoor locations. That includes the six-county region surrounding Milwaukee. 

With Milwaukee County now in the highest category for virus activity, the Milwaukee Health Department on Friday announced a mask advisory for the city. 

“Masking is a critical public health tool and a key layer of protection against transmitting and contracting COVID-19,” the department said in a statement. “While different types of masks provide different levels of protection, it is important to remember any mask, worn consistently and snugly, is better than no mask.” 

Meanwhile, about half of Wisconsin counties are currently in the “medium” category. The CDC metric is based on a combination of new case numbers, new hospital admissions and the percentage of hospital inpatient beds occupied by COVID-19 patients. 

The latest seven-day average for new COVID-19 cases in the state was 1,980 cases per day, more than twice as many than at this point last month. But it remains well below the recent peak in early January caused by the initial omicron variant surge, the Department of Health Services site shows. 

It also shows the trajectory of patient hospitalizations was rising between 33 percent and 46 percent in the last several weeks in the northeast, southeast and south central regions of the state. No significant change was seen in the rest of the state over that period. 

And the Wisconsin Hospital Association site shows 343 patients in the state are currently hospitalized with COVID-19, including 53 intensive care patients. While the overall hospitalization number more than doubled between mid-April and mid-May, the number of ICU patients has seen a more slight increase. 

See the mask advisory for Milwaukee: 

See the latest DHS figures here, including a map displaying Community Levels: 

— Exact Sciences says it remains committed to growing its presence in Madison after announcing layoffs. 

The Madison-based diagnostics company in January said it will be investing another $350 million into its operations in the city, with a goal of creating more than 1,300 new jobs. 

“This week’s actions do not affect those plans, in fact, we expect to end the year with a net positive increase to employee headcount,” company spokesman Scott Larivee said in an emailed statement. 

His remarks came after Exact Sciences last week notified about 230 of its employees that their jobs are being eliminated. About 50 of those workers are based in Wisconsin. That’s out of about 7,000 employees around the world, around half of which are based in the state. 

Larivee explained the cut positions are from various departments but don’t include any laboratory staff or international employees. He noted the company is continuing to hire and is urging the affected employees to apply for one of the open positions. 

“Our company has grown rapidly over the past several years, both organically and through acquisitions, and has made great strides in achieving this mission,” he said. “However, headwinds like inflation as well as a need to prioritize the programs that will have the greatest impact on improving cancer care have resulted in aligning our workforce and resources closely to our highest impact programs.” 

He added construction on expanding a clinical processing lab and warehouse in Madison is “already well underway.” 

Since the company announced its continued expansion plans earlier this year, Larivee said the company has decided to pause construction on the R&D Center of Excellence in University Research Park project “for a couple of years while we focus our efforts and dollars on longer term growth opportunities.” 

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— Developers have purchased 11 acres of land from Marquette University for a new sports and entertainment district in downtown Milwaukee. 

The project, from Kacmarcik Enterprises and Bear Development, will include an 8,000-seat soccer stadium, indoor concert venue and hotel, as well as 99 multi-family residential housing units, retail and food and beverage vendors, a release shows. 

Groundbreaking on the project is planned for later this year, and the stadium and entertainment features are expected to open in spring 2024. Milwaukee-based Kahler Slater is the architecture firm designing the buildings. 

According to the developers’ announcement, the stadium will host a professional soccer team, as well as Marquette men’s and women’s soccer and lacrosse. The release notes a professional soccer league affiliation will be announced soon. About 200 events are expected to be hosted between March and November. 

Jim Kacmarcik, chairman and CEO of Kacmarcik Enterprises, is the lead owner of Forward Madison FC, a professional soccer team based in Madison. 

“Milwaukee is one of the great sports cities in the United States, and we are excited to bring professional outdoor soccer to the community,” he said in the release. 

Meanwhile, a 3,500-person indoor concert venue will be operated in part by Pabst Theater Group and Kacmarcik Enterprises, with plans for more than 300 events to be held each year. And the 140-room hotel, which will be owned by Bear Development, includes plans for a bar and restaurant overlooking the stadium. 

See more details, including project designs: 

— Seven Wisconsin companies have been recognized through WMC’s 33rd annual Manufacturer of the Year Awards program. 

“Manufacturing is the backbone of Wisconsin’s economy,” Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce President and CEO Kurt Bauer said in a statement. “It not only sustains high-wage, family-supporting careers and contributes billions to our economic growth, it also provides the tools and technology that ensure Wisconsin is a leader in innovation.” 

Grand Award winners include: Centrisys/CNP, which makes centrifuges at its Kenosha facility; Winsert, a machinery parts manufacturer in Marinette; Teel Plastics of Baraboo, which makes custom extruded plastic products; and pulp and paper manufacturer Green Bay Packaging. 

Three other companies receiving Special Awards include: Octopi Brewing of Waunakee, recognized for rapid growth; Kapco Metal Stamping of Grafton, for creativity and community commitment; and Mercury Marine in Fond du Lac, for concentrated economic impact. 

See more on the awards program: 


# Unemployment in Wisconsin is at a historic low, labor force is growing

# For Waunakee anatomy artist, it’s what’s inside that counts

# Chippewa Valley leaders seek solutions for child care ‘crisis’



– Taylor Schaefer selected as Wisconsin’s 75th Alice in Dairyland


– Wisconsin Center looks at contingency plans for cost increases on $421M expansion


– Mayor confirms major heart of Kenosha projects ready to rise


– Gillaspy chosen as new dean for UW-Madison CALS

– Willem Dafoe haunts UW-Milwaukee campus for the first time in more than 40 years, on the eve of receiving an honorary doctorate


– Marquette Hotel Cafe offers inexpensive and inventive breakfasts

– Wantable Cafe partnering with Colectivo, expanding free-for-employees menu


– City of Milwaukee asks people to mask up after Milwaukee County reaches ‘high’ level of COVID-19

– Marshfield Clinic draws families worldwide with the rare disease BBS


– Boys & Girls Club launches capital campaign for new skilled trades center


– Wisconsin soybean program seeking new director


– Endangered Properties: Cass Street apartments an architectural gem


– Kohl’s disappointing results lead to mixed signals on possible buyout


– Developers announce plans for soccer stadium mixed-use project in Milwaukee

– Marquette University sells land to developers for new sports, entertainment district

– Soccer stadium would anchor mixed-use sports and entertainment district planned in downtown Milwaukee


– Astronautics sells electromechanical indicator unit for $27 million


– Wisconsin Center District ahead of 2022 budget, sees growth in bookings


– Tom Still: Business plan contest finalists capture range of ideas in Wisconsin

– Viewpoints: Does Wisconsin need another hospital merger?


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

Wisconsin Technology Council: ‘Launch’ panels focus on startups June 2 at Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference

Professional Insurance Agents of Wisconsin, Inc.: Nick Oleniczak named 2022 PIA National CSR of the Year