Live: What To Know March 25 About COVID-19 In Wisconsin

Number Of Total Cases Of COVID-19 In State Is Rising

Rosebud Cinema in Wauwatosa, Wis.
An independent movie theater in Wauwatosa, Wis., is closed amid the coronavirus outbreak. Lisa Nalbandian/WPR

The number of positive cases of COVID-19 in the state continues to grow. Wednesday afternoon, the state Department of Health Services confirmed 585 positive cases of COVID-19, as well as 10,089 negative tests.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the statewide death total due to COVID-19 to seven.

With cases rising, Gov. Tony Evers directed state health officials to issue a statewide stay-at-home order prohibiting non-essential travel, with some exceptions. That order went into effect Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. For more information on that order, read this story answering frequently asked questions.

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As the response to the virus evolves, Wisconsin Public Radio will be keeping track of up-to-date happenings here, and in our broadcast and online coverage. If you have questions or concerns about COVID-19 — either about the virus, prevention or preparation — ask us and we’ll do our best to answer.

For explanations for common questions and additional information about COVID resources, read WisContext’s story listing 10 things to know about the pandemic and public health in the state.

For a compilation of all WPR’s coverage, visit WPR’s Coronavirus In Wisconsin section.

Here are the latest updates on the new coronavirus in Wisconsin:

5 PM: State Capital Building To Close Thursday

The State Capital building will close to visitors beginning 8 a.m. Thursday, the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) announced Wednesday. It will be closed until further notice. This comes after Gov. Tony Evers enacted Tuesday’s “safer-at-home” order.

The building will reopen if the Legislature or Supreme Court convenes, according to a DOA news release.

Many of the activities that occur at the State Capital, including public tours, were already limited or stopped before Wednesday’s announcement.

4:08 PM: Many Wisconsin Food Manufacturing Employees To Receive Bonuses, Increased Benefits For Working During COVID-19 Outbreak

More than 1,000 Wisconsin workers will receive bonuses or benefit increases thanks to new agreements reached between food manufacturers and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union, according to a news release.

UFCW announced agreements with food producers including JBS, Cargill and Hormel.

“These wage and benefit increases will not only protect the health and welfare of these hard-working men and women, they will help ensure all of America’s families have the food they need to overcome the public health crisis our nation faces,” UFCW International President Marc Perrone said in a statement.

3:10 PM: Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-Superior Donates Protective Equipment To First Responders, Hospitals

With classes moving online, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College-Superior (WITC) has donated the personal protective equipment typically used by health care students to emergency responders in Douglas County, according to a news release.

Maintenance staff at WITC collected masks, gowns, goggles and sanitizing wipes from classrooms. A batch was donated to Douglas County Emergency Management, the release said. Additional items will be donated to hospitals and volunteer fire departments.

3 PM: Madison Metro Bus Driver Tests Positive For COVID-19, Isthmus Says

Isthmus reports it obtained an email from transit general manager Natalie Erdman telling Madison Metro employees a bus driver has tested positive for COVID-19. The driver last worked March 19, according to Madison’s alternative news outlet.

The email said public health officials don’t believe the driver contracted the disease from a passenger, Isthmus reports. According to Isthmus, Madison Metro employees have voiced safety concerns for days.

Beginning Monday, Madison Metro stopped collecting fares and starting requiring passengers to enter and exit buses through the rear door. Isthmus reports Madison Metro employees have also requested danger pay and protective equipment.

A Milwaukee bus driver tested positive for the new coronavirus last week, according to officials from the Milwaukee County Transit System.

Green Bay Metro Transit has discontinued bus service as a result of the outbreak.

2:59 PM: UW-Madison Responds To Increase In Racial Incidents Spurred By New Coronavirus

Officials from the University of Wisconsin-Madison wrote to students and staff Wednesday acknowledging there’s been an increase in “bias incidents” both on campus and online against members of the community perceived to be from China.

“We want to be clear that racist behaviors or stereotyping of any kind are not tolerated at UW-Madison — no matter if we are online, passing others in public or quarantined at home,” the message read.

University leaders will hold a virtual town hall Thursday for students to voice their concerns and learn more about the university’s response to the recent incidents.

2 PM: Kwik Trip, Schnucks Employees To Receive Bonuses For Working During COVID-19 Pandemic

More than 26,000 Kwik Trip employees will receive a pay increase for hours worked over a six-week period during the coronavirus outbreak, according to multiple media outlets.

Retail and support workers will receive an additional $2 per hour for hours worked during the designated period. Store leaders and truck drivers will receive an additional $100 per week, according to a letter to employees from Kwik Trip CEO Don Zietlow.

Tuesday the La Crosse-based convenience store chain announced it’s hoping to hire an additional 2,000 workers to meet the needs of customers during the outbreak.

The grocery store chain Schnucks also emailed customers Wednesday saying it will award bonuses to certain employees who work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

1:55 PM: City of Janesville Puts Out Call For Volunteer Nurses

The city of Janesville’s emergency operations center is searching for volunteer nurses who may be called upon to staff medical shelters should the shelters become necessary.

Volunteers should call the city’s community support hotline between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. at 608-373-6027. In addition to their name, address and phone number, volunteers will be asked about their nursing degree and previous nursing experience.

The city declared a state of emergency Wednesday due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

1:55 PM: There Are Now 585 Confirmed Cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, DHS Reports

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, 585 people in Wisconsin have tested positive for the new coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon. An additional 10,089 tests have come back negative.

Milwaukee County has the largest number of confirmed cases in the state.

Residents in 33 Wisconsin counties have been confirmed to have the virus, according to DHS.

1:18 PM: Wisconsin’s 7th Confirmed COVID-19 Death Is Reported In Milwaukee County

The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office tweeted Wednesday afternoon it’s investigating the death of a 60-year-old man due to complications from the new coronavirus.

According to the tweet, the man died at his home.

As of 1:40 p.m. Wednesday, Milwaukee County reported 295 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the most cases occurring among people in their 40s.

12:33 PM: Johnson Calls Federal Aid Package Necessary

Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said Wednesday that the massive federal economic aid package is necessary to help save the U.S. economy from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have to do something large, because we have to stabilize our economy,” he told WPR’s “The Morning Show.” “This is a government-forced economic shutdown, so we need to provide the liquidity for our free-market system.”

Johnson was one of eight senators to vote against a previous aid bill. He said the new bill addresses some of his concerns about the previous aid.

“One of the reasons I voted against the first package is that I knew that people were going to be unemployed and there was no provision for really boosting up the state unemployment funds (to) take care of those individuals,” he said. “That will occur with this measure.”

Johnson also highlighted the bill’s aid to small businesses that keep workers on the payroll.

Asked about his earlier comments saying the U.S. should keep the pandemic in perspective so as not to endanger the economy, Johnson said the actions taken by government officials have been “far less onerous than I think people initially assumed.”

Johnson said he supported the Evers administration’s orders in response to the pandemic, and said the country can both keep essential businesses strong and protect public health by acting “smartly.”

12:32 PM: Madison Mayor Asks Legislature For Property Tax Relief

Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway asked Gov. Tony Evers and the Legislature on Wednesday to waive interest and defer penalties on missed property tax payments, according to a news release from the City of Madison.

Wisconsin state law requires a 12 percent interest rate be charged on late payments and does not allow for waivers, according to the release.

“We want to give our residents the financial flexibility they need to help weather the severe economic conditions brought on by this unprecedented public health emergency, but we cannot act without a change to state law,” Rhodes-Conway said.

In Madison, the next property tax installment is due March 31.

12:13 PM: Milwaukee Brewers Will Re-Air 2019 Opening Day Thursday

The Milwaukee Brewers were originally scheduled to open the 2020 baseball season Thursday against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park. That was before spring training was suspended and the regular season was delayed due to the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

It may not be live, but fans will still get to watch baseball Thursday, the Brewers announced in a news release.

FOX Sports Wisconsin and Newsradio 620 WTMJ will re-air last year’s opening game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The game will be broadcast on television at noon, 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. It will air on the radio at 6 p.m.

11:45 AM: Wisconsin Police Departments Warn Against Scams Related To New Coronavirus

The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Police Department emailed students and staff Wednesday warning them to be on the lookout for coronavirus-related scams.

According to the email, a UW-La Crosse community member received a call saying they’d be jailed if they didn’t submit to a COVID-19 test. The police department claims the caller was seeking to steal money and collect personal information. The police department said the caller knew the community member was affiliated with the university.

Police departments across the state have issued warnings to residents that scams are on the rise. They include people selling fake COVID-19 tests, vaccines and cures.

The Brown County Sheriff’s Office said it received a report Tuesday of someone impersonating a police officer and conducting a “Safer-at-Home” compliance stop.

10:43 AM: Dane County Reports First COVID-19 Death

A person in their late 70s has died from COVID-19 in Dane County, according to a news release from Public Health Madison & Dane County. More than 70 cases of the new coronavirus have been confirmed in Dane County. This is the county’s first reported death.

“We are saddened by the loss of one of our community members, and we extend our sympathies to their loved ones,” said Janel Heinrich, director of Public Health Madison & Dane County.

Heinrich encouraged Dane County residents to stay home as much as possible to slow the spread of the virus.

Six COVID-19 deaths have been reported in Wisconsin.

10:20 AM: Wisconsin DATCP Takes Action On 16 Price Gouging Complaints

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) has issued cease and desist letters to 16 companies suspected of illegally raising their prices during the coronavirus outbreak, according to a news release from the agency.

One of the companies is, which is suspected of unlawfully overcharging for N95 face masks, a type of personal protective equipment required by health care workers and already in short supply.

According to its release, DATCP has already received dozens of price gouging complaints since Gov. Tony Evers declared a state of emergency related to the new coronavirus earlier this month. To report suspected price gouging, file an online complaint form with DATCP.

9:10 AM: Madison Police Department District Stations Close To Public

The Madison Police Department announced Wednesday morning its district stations have closed to the public. A phone at the entryway to each station can be used to call 911 in case of emergency.

Madison police officers may not respond to minor incidents and will take more complaints over the phone in an effort to minimize their potential exposure to the new coronavirus, Victor Wahl, acting police chief, said in a statement.

8:43 AM: Democratic Party Of Wisconsin Announces Voter Assistance Hotline

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has created a voter assistance hotline to help field questions related to voting absentee in the April 7 election, party officials announced Wednesday. The hotline can be reached at 608-336-3232.

The Democratic National Committee and the state party filed a lawsuit that extended voter registration to March 30 for the April election. Anyone who wishes to vote absentee in the April 7 election must request a ballot by 5 p.m. April 2.

TUESDAY: Wisconsin Newspaper Employees See Hours, Pay Cut Due To New Coronavirus

Adams Publishing Group, which owns more than 20 daily and weekly newspapers in Wisconsin, is cutting staff salaries as a result of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, company officials said Tuesday.

Adams owns the Beloit Daily News, the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram and the Janesville Gazette.

Salaried employees at the Gazette will see their pay cut by 25 percent, while full-time hourly workers will have their hours cut to 30 per week.

Company officials said the change is intended to be temporary.

TUESDAY: La Crosse County Reports Community Spread Of COVID-19

The La Crosse County Health Department identified its first two cases of community spread, the agency announced in a Tuesday news release.

One patient is a man in his 20s who began experiencing symptoms the week of March 9. The other is a man in his 70s. Both individuals were tested March 23. Neither has required hospitalization, the agency said.

The La Crosse County Health Department is investigating both cases.

TUESDAY: Milwaukee Archdiocese Cancels Holy Week Services

Archbishop of Milwaukee Jerome Listecki released a letter to parish directors Tuesday outlining changes to the archdiocese’s spring schedule. It includes the cancelation of public Holy Week services.

Listecki will say closed Mass from the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Milwaukee on Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. The services will be live streamed.

The archbishop encouraged parishioners in southeast Wisconsin to continue streaming Masses from home.

TUESDAY: DHS Reports 457 Positive Cases In Wisconsin

The state Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm said Monday there are 457 positive cases of COVID-19 statewide and 8,237 negative tests. However, the number continues to grow as counties announce positive cases.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the state remained at 5 deaths from the new coronavirus in Wisconsin, according to the DHS.

These numbers were announced shortly after the Evers administration issued a ‘Safer-at-home’ order.

DHS has identified community spread of the virus in Brown, Columbia, Dane, Fond du Lac, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Rock, Walworth and Waukesha counties, meaning some people who have been infected with the virus aren’t sure how or where they became infected.

TUESDAY: Stay-At-Home Order Goes Into Effect Wednesday At 8 AM

Gov. Tony Evers has directed state health officials to order all Wisconsinites to stay at home, starting Wednesday at 8 a.m. and lasting until April 24, unless there is another order.

The order prohibits all public and private gatherings of people who don’t live in the same household, as well as any non-essential travel.

Stores that sell food and medicine, as well as other businesses like gas stations, banks and laundry businesses, can stay open.

Workers exempt from the order to stay home include health care workers, as well as food production and distribution workers. Permitted activities include obtaining medication, taking care of others and going outdoors to exercise, as long as they maintain six feet of distance between themselves and others. People can still go to public and state parks — but playgrounds are closed.

Essential governmental functions, like firefighting and EMS services, will also continue.

The order is enforceable by local police, and breaking it could result in a $250 fine, up to 30 days imprisonment, or both.

People experiencing homelessness are exempt from the order, but are urged to seek shelter.

For the entire list of closures, exemptions and rules, read the full order here.

Resources For Food, Housing Help And More In Wisconsin

Are you in need of food? Do you need someone to pick up groceries? Are you looking for ways to help during the COVID-19 pandemic? WPR is keeping an updated list of resources across Wisconsin. If you don’t find what you’re looking for here, you can search for services online at 211 Wisconsin, dial 211 on your phone, or text your ZIP code to 898211.