MON AM News: SHINE signs DOE contracts; DHS schedules listening sessions on opioid settlement funds

— SHINE Technologies has signed contracts with the Department of Energy related to obtaining low-enriched uranium for production of a widely used medical imaging radioisotope.

According to a release from the Janesville company, these contracts are the first signed under the federal agency’s Uranium Lease and Take-back Program. This program was created under the American Medical Isotopes Production Act of 2012 to provide U.S. medical isotope producers with uranium. 

Corey Hinderstein, deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation with the DOE’s National Nuclear Security Administration, says these contracts represent “a crucial step toward medical isotope autonomy for the United States.” 

SHINE says it is “steadily progressing” toward production of molybdenum-99 at its Janesville facility. Mo-99 is a radioisotope used to create technetium-99m, which is used in more than 40,000 medical diagnostic procedures each day in the United States. 

“Once SHINE begins production, our country will be that much closer to creating a reliable and sufficient supply of these life-saving materials right here at home, while also increasing nuclear security by reducing the use of highly enriched uranium,” Hinderstein said in a statement. 

While the company’s contract with the NNSA provides SHINE with uranium, its contract with the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management outlines requirements related to returning resulting radioactive waste “without a commercial disposition path” following Mo-99 production. 

The second contract is meant to satisfy a requirement of the 2012 isotope production law that DOE establish “take-back contracts” for radioactive waste or spent nuclear fuel resulting from medical isotope production. But the company says in the release that “there is no spent fuel or radioactive waste involved in these contracts.” 

The NNSA previously announced in October that SHINE would be issued a $35 million cooperative agreement to support the company’s efforts to begin commercial production of Mo-99 by the end of 2023. Medical facilities in the country have historically gotten their Mo-99 from entities outside the United States that produced it using highly-enriched uranium, which could be used in a nuclear weapon “if stolen or diverted,” DOE says. 

SHINE says it won’t need to use highly enriched uranium in its production facility, which company CEO Greg Piefer calls “a huge win for both patient access to essential medical diagnostic procedures, and for nuclear security.”

See the release: 

— The Department of Health Services has scheduled a series of listening sessions this month to get input on how expected opioid settlement funds should be spent in the state. 

“After opioid-related deaths exceeded 1,000 for the first time in 2020, we know there is more work we can do to continue building a healthier Wisconsin for every family and every community in every corner of our state,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a release. 

The agency says the sessions will focus on how funds can be used to improve the state’s response to the opioid epidemic, including prevention, harm reduction, treatment and recovery services. State residents and organizations are being asked to weigh in on “how to invest these dollars for maximum benefit for those most affected by opioid use.” 

Twelve virtual sessions have been scheduled between Wednesday and Jan. 28.  

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee approved in November the state’s allocation of funds from national opioid settlements involving major pharmaceutical distributors and opioid manufacturer Janssen. Of the $26 billion settlement, Wisconsin is expected to receive over $420 million over 18 years, a release from JFC shows. 

Under 2021 Wisconsin Act 57, 70 percent of the settlement funds are required to go to local government entities while the other 30 percent must go to the state. 

See more details, including how to register for the sessions: 

— DHS is supporting a new recommendation from the CDC that children aged 12-15 can receive a single booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. 

The state agency also backs the CDC’s guidance to reduce the booster interval for Pfizer and Moderna vaccine recipients from six months to five, and to provide another primary vaccine dose to immunocompromised children aged 5-11 four weeks after their second dose. 

Stephanie Schauer, program manager with the DHS Division of Public Health Immunization, says new research indicates “moderately or severely” immunocompromised children in this age range will get the most benefit from a third primary series dose. 

And she said shortening the booster interval “may offer better protection sooner for individuals against the highly transmissible Omicron variant.” 

The DHS site shows 62.3 percent of state residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 58.4 percent have completed the series. Over 1.6 million additional or booster doses have been administered in Wisconsin, making up over 49 percent of the state’s 3.4 million fully vaccinated residents. 

See the release: 

See the latest vaccination rates here: 

—  The latest guest on the “Midday” podcast is UW Health Chief Quality Officer Dr. Jeff Pothof, who says omicron is now the dominant variant of COVID-19 in Wisconsin. 

He discusses how hospitals in the state are coming up with unique ways to cope with the influx of new patients as beds fill up. 

“All of us are a little bit surprised, even understanding omicron, how quickly it is able to spread and just how highly contagious this variant is,” Pothof said. “And we’re seeing a lot of cases, you know, more than we’ve ever seen before.” 

Pothof notes that most patients being admitted to hospitals with COVID-19 are unvaccinated, although breakthrough cases are being seen at higher rates than with other variants. Still, he says these breakthrough cases are “pretty mild.” 

“But it is resulting in a higher total of cases, so omicron’s really no laughing matter,” he said. 

Listen to the podcast: 

Find more episodes here: 

— Interim UW System President Tommy Thompson will resign his post in March, writing to Regents President Edmund Manydeeds that doing so will allow the university to put its full attention on his successor.

Thompson, the longest serving governor in Wisconsin history, was brought in to lead the system on an interim basis on July 1, 2020, after a failed search to find a permanent replacement for the retiring Ray Cross.

In his letter, Thompson wrote he agreed to accept knowing two things: “that I was needed, and that it would be temporary.”

The three-page letter opens with the line, “I love Wisconsin.” It then ticks off a series of accomplishments, including leading the system during the COVID-19 pandemic and working with the Legislature and guv to restore authority to the Board of Regents to set tuition after a decade-long freeze for in-state undergraduates.

“While I firmly believe that the pursuit of excellence never ends, I am satisfied that I have accomplished what has been asked of me and what the people of this state have sought,” Thompson wrote.

Thompson noted the regents will soon identify a candidate to become the full-time president, writing “the onboarding process will require the full attention of System staff, chancellors, faculty, and the many remarkable people that carry out the business of the System every day.”

“Until the end, I will work to accomplish all that is needed before allowing staff the ability to prepare for the transition,” Thompson wrote.

Along with serving in the state Assembly for 20 years and as guv for 14, Thompson was Health and Human Services secretary under President George W. Bush. He also launched a bid for president in 2007 that ended before the primaries began, flirted with running again for his old post as guv in 2010 and ultimately lost a race for U.S. Senate in 2012.

During his run as interim president, the 80-year-old Thompson became known for posting videos on social media promising to “smash” COVID-19. That includes pounding a bowling ball into a birthday cake on his 79th birthday in November 2020.

Read the letter:


# Wisconsin lost just 399 dairy herds in 2021

# Report: Milwaukee makes RNC’s short list of contenders for 2024 convention

# Q&A: University Research Park director grows science with real estate



– Wisconsin cheese production rose in November


– Tommy Thompson stepping down as UW president in March

– New CDC quarantine guidance will let kids, staff return to school after 5 days. Wisconsin parents say they’re still confused.

– Union expresses concerns about MMSD’s return to in-person learning amid COVID-19 case surge


– Rural hospital leaders share how they’re staying afloat during COVID-19 omicron outbreak

– ‘We’re just a sitting duck’: UW Health pediatrician says child COVID-19 vaccination rates are too low

– Health care real estate investor buys new Ascension Mequon clinic property for $16.2 million

– Rock County veterinarian answers common pet care questions amid clinic backlog


– Barrels of excitement: Sprecher Brewing’s investors drinking in firm’s growth


– Milwaukee hotels maintain occupancy but face staffing challenges


– Briggs & Stratton to close Germantown facility as it exits product lines sold to retailers


– Report: Milwaukee is among 4 finalists for 2024 RNC

– Republican National Committee confirms that Milwaukee is finalist for 2024 convention


– Investment firm buys suburban medical facilities for $92.6 million

– National real estate firm buys Menomonee Falls shopping center once anchored by Walmart Neighborhood Market


– Milwaukee committee moves forward with city-wide mask mandate, full committee to vote Jan. 18

– New Milwaukee mask mandate proposal heading to Common Council


– Madison-made game Solarpunk Futures imagines a sunnier tomorrow


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

Dept. of Safety and Professional Services: Secretary Dawn Crim announces opening of new grant program for youth firefighter training programs

UW-Madison: Statement of UW-Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank on UW System President Tommy Thompson’s resignation