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Live: What To Know March 16 About COVID-19 In Wisconsin

As Of Monday, Number Of Total Cases Of COVID-19 In State Rose To 47

A shopper in the cold and flu aisle of a Walmart
A shopper looks at the few selections remaining in the cold and flu aisle of a Walmart near Warrendale, Pa., Friday, March 13, 2020. Gene J. Puskar/AP Photo

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wisconsin has climbed to 47, according to state Department of Health Services officials.

The outbreak of the ailment has lead to sweeping changes to daily life and prompted many Wisconsinites to alter their routines to thwart the spread of the ailment.

As the effects of the virus continue to evolve, 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.

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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:

11:55 PM: Milwaukee County Orders Restaurants, Bars To Close Except For Take-Out, Delivery

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and 11 other municipal leaders within the county said that they are ordering bars and restaurants to close to “in-house patrons” effective Tuesday and “until further notice.”

“Restaurants with take-out and delivery options will still be able to operate those services,” according to the news release.

The local municipalities who are joining the county’s decision include: Milwaukee, South Milwaukee, St. Francis, Bayside, Brown Deer, Cudahy, Fox Point, Glendale, River Hills, Shorewood and Whitefish Bay.

“Clear and bold actions are needed immediately to stop the spread of COVID-19 and strengthen public health in Milwaukee County, and that means closing our bars and restaurants for now. This will be extremely difficult on the family-owned bars, local restaurants and small businesses that make Milwaukee County the best place to call home,” the statement read.

The order “restricts food, liquor, beer and wine sales to carry-out and delivery only for bars and restaurants in certain areas of Milwaukee County. Onsite consumption of food and beverage will not be permitted.”

4:33 PM: Milwaukee Police Department Announces Civilian Employee Tested Positive For COVID-19

The Milwaukee Police Department is trying to prevent more cases among its staff after they announced a civilian employee tested positive for COVID-19.

In a press release, the department assured the employee is under home quarantine and their co-workers are being monitored.

The department is closing its Forensics Division and Open Records Section to the public, which will affect fingerprinting and delay open records requests, the latter of which can still be submitted online, according to the release. People should also avoid visiting district locations is they can.

The press release also makes clear that police may use personal protective equipment, which, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, includes gloves, respirators and other items designed to protect people from COVID-19 transmission.

“It is important to note that we are not immune from contracting this virus,” the release states.

4:29 PM: DPI Will Grant School Districts Flexibility In Meeting State’s Hours Requirement For Students

Students in Wisconsin won’t have to make up any school days under an updated policy from the state Department of Public Instruction, so long as their school districts request waivers to do so.

In a press release sent Monday afternoon, DPI said it will agree to waiving the state-mandated hour requirement that stipulates how many hours students have to be in school each year.

This is a direct result of students taking virtual classes from home amid the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

“The DPI is taking action to remove barriers that may be in the way of our schools and students during these trying times,” State Superintendent Carolyn Stanford Taylor said, according to the release.

State law requires schools submit a waiver form, but the DPI is working out plans to expedite that process.

The DPI also is requesting a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to suspend requirements for standardized testing, and is making school meals available to students from economically-disadvantaged families.

3:05 PM: TDS Announces Broadband Access To ‘Low-Income Individuals,’ Families With Children, College Students

TDS Telecommunications announced a plan to provide broadband access to “low-income individuals and/or families with children and college students for 60 days,” according to a news release.

“As a company, our first priority is the health and well-being of our employees, customers and the communities we serve,” said Drew Petersen, senior vice president of Corporate Affairs at TDS, in the news release. “During this difficult time, we want to ensure those who cannot afford broadband services have the essential access they need.”

To verify their eligibility, TDS officials are asking residents to provide documentation from qualifying programs. For more information, please call 1-888-287-8156.

3:02 PM: Tomah VA Medical Center To Stop Visitors

The Tomah VA Medical Center announced they were suspending visitors to the facility and to four community-based VA clinics, according to a news release.

The new “No Visitors” policy began at 3 p.m. Monday.

Officials said visitors will be prohibited from entering the medical center or clinics “unless it is necessary for providing medical care or visiting under compassionate care circumstances, such as grave illness or imminent death of a family member under care in the facility.”

According to the news release, all veterans and visitors entering the facility will be “pre-screened for signs of respiratory illness prior to entry.”

2:22 PM: Nonprofit Workforce Board Closes Job Centers

The nonprofit Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board is temporarily closing job centers in northern Wisconsin.

The closures include centers in Ashland, Park Falls and Spooner and run from Thursday to Monday, April 6. Job centers in Ladysmith and Hayward on Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College campuses will also be closed throughout WITC’s extended spring break.

More information is available on the board’s website.

1:42 PM: DHS Confirms 47 Positive Tests For COVID-19 In Wisconsin

On Monday at 1:42 p.m. the state Department of Health Services announced the state had received results for 504 negative tests for COVID-19 and 47 positive tests with one confirmed case recovered.

1:09 PM: Major League Baseball Pushes Back Opening Day

Commissioner Rob Manfred and team owners announced Monday that Major League Baseball will not open its regular season Thursday, April 9. The league said it’s committed to playing as many games as possible this season, and it will update fans on plans for its 2020 schedule as they develop.

The Milwaukee Brewers were initially scheduled to host the Chicago Cubs on Thursday, March 26 for opening day. The league suspended spring training and announced last week the regular season would be delayed by at least two weeks.

MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association also announced Monday they will donate $1 million, split evenly between Meals on Wheels and Feeding America, to help fight food insecurity during the COVID-19 outbreak.

12:40 PM: Evers Directs DHS To Ban Gatherings Larger Than 50 People

Gov. Tony Evers has directed the state Department of Health Services to ban gatherings of 50 or more people statewide in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

In a series of posts on Twitter, Evers said “critical infrastructure and services” including grocery stores, food pantries, childcare centers, pharmacies, and hospitals would be exempt from the ban.

“This isn’t a decision I made lightly and we understand this will have an impact on Wisconsin workers, families, businesses and communities, but keeping folks safe and healthy has to be our highest priority,” Evers said.

11:44 AM: Marshfield Clinic Seeks Child Care Help For Employees

The Marshfield Clinic Health System wants to hear from central Wisconsin community members who can provide child care services to its employees. In a letter to the community, Marshfield Clinic asked child care professionals in a position to help to email childcare@marshfieldclinic.org with information on their services. The Clinic will make that information available to health care providers in need of child care services.

“This tool is meant to serve as a resource for both parents in need of child care and those who are willing to serve as child care providers at this time,” Clinic spokesmen said in a release.

Marshfield Clinic has more than 50 locations across central and Northwoods Wisconsin.

10:58 AM: Potawatomi Hotel & Casino Close Indefinitely

Following in the footsteps of several Las Vegas casinos, Potawatomi Hotel & Casino will suspend operations indefinitely due to the new coronavirus outbreak, beginning at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

Employees will be paid during the closure.

“At this time, the health and safety of our guests and the 2,700 team members at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino is the top priority,” said Potawotomi’s CEO Rodney Ferguson said in a written statement.

10:15 AM: NFL Draft Is On; Fan Events Are Canceled

The NFL announced Monday it has modified its plans for the 2020 NFL Draft. It will still start April 23. All public events related to the draft have been canceled, but the event will be televised. This comes after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines Sunday that public events attracting more than 50 people should not be held for the next eight weeks.

The Green Bay Packers will have 10 picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, including the 30th overall. Several Wisconsin Badgers will be hoping to be chosen by NFL clubs in April, including running back Jonathan Taylor. Taylor has the second most rushing yards in Badgers history.

10 AM: Evers, DHS, Wisconsin National Guard Work To Bring Grand Princess Cruise Ship Passengers Home

According to a pres release from the Evers administration, the 29 Wisconsin passengers from the Grand Princess cruise ship were safely returned to their homes at 4:18 a.m.

Two passengers chose to remain in quarantine in Texas under the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, citing personal reasons. State officials continue to work with HHS to bring the seven Wisconsin passengers who remain in HHS custody in California home.

As of their return, none of the passengers returning have tested positive for COVID-19. Still, they will continue to self-quarantine for the requisite 14-day period.

“We’re glad to finally have our folks back home in Wisconsin,” Evers said in the release. “These individuals have gone through a harrowing experience full of uncertainty and fear over the past several weeks. But as I’ve said repeatedly, here in Wisconsin, we take care of one another. I am incredibly grateful to Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, the Wisconsin National Guard, and our entire state government for the hard work they’ve put in to ensure we bring our people home safely and ensure the safety of our communities.”

The Guard members involved in helping bring the passengers home will self-quarantine for 14 days.

MONDAY MORNING: Bank Lobby Access Closing

Associated Bank says it’s suspending lobby access at most of its branch locations. The changes go into effect Tuesday, March 17. Regular lobby access is expected to resume on Monday, April 13. Drive thru, online and ATM services remain available at banking locations.

Summit Credit Union will be temporarily closing some locations and branch lobbies as of Wednesday, March 18. Information on locations that are open, closed or changing are available on the credit union’s website.

The UW Credit Union also suspend face-to-face lobby services in their branches starting March 14. Their drive-up facilities are still available.

MONDAY MORNING: Businesses Closing Doors

The number of businesses in Wisconsin that are closing their doors continued to grow Monday morning. Businesses over the weekend cited the desire to slow the spread of COVID-19 and comply with local, state and federal guidance.

Here are some of those businesses as of 8:15 AM:

  • The Great Wolf Lodge in the Wisconsin Dells plans to close all of its resorts and re-open Thursday, April 2. They closed Sunday. Full refunds have been provided for reservations booked from Sunday through Wednesday, April 1.
  • REI announced it is closing all 162 of its retail stores across the United States starting Monday. The closures will run through Friday, March 27. Employees will be paid during the closure, said Eric Artz, president and CEO of REI. There are REI stores in Brookfield and Madison, and one is slated to open in Appleton this spring.
  • The Kalahari Resorts and Conventions in the Wisconsin Dells plans to close at 4 p.m. Wednesday and re-open Thursday, April 2. The company is offering different refund and rescheduling options that can be found online.

LATE SUNDAY: Green Bay Metro Suspends Public Transit Services

Green Bay Metro announced it will suspend public transit services beginning Monday.

“I do not take the decision to suspend transit services lightly, but I am committed to taking any and all actions to keep our community safe and our employees well, in the days ahead,” said Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich.

Medically necessary service will still be available via paratransit.

Public transportation is still operative in other parts of Wisconsin. Public Health Madison & Dane County advised bus riders to sit far away from each other. Madison Metro also encouraged anyone at high risk for COVID-19 to stay home as much as possible.

SUNDAY: Check Out Resources For More Information

Here’s a series of NPR articles that contain information that might be helpful:

SUNDAY: DHS Releases Latest Figures Showing 33 Confirmed Cases In Wisconsin

An additional person has tested positive for the new coronavirus in Milwaukee County, according to numbers from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services released Sunday afternoon. The number of Milwaukee County cases is now seven.

Five people tested positive for the virus late Saturday night in Fond du Lac County, bringing the total number of cases there to 11 and raising the statewide total to 33.

SUNDAY: Madison, Dane County Schools To Close

Public Health Madison and Dane County officials announced Sunday all Dane County schools, including those in the Madison Metropolitan School District, will be closing immediately to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“Schools play a crucial role in providing nutrition and other critical services to students, but they also pose a risk to children and staff with underlying health conditions and their closure can reduce community spread of COVID-19,” said Janel Heinrich, director of Public Health Madison & Dane County, in the statement. “Closing schools and canceling events are a disruption to our lives, but we believe these measures are necessary for the safety of our community.”

Health officials directive to close Monday is happening earlier than Gov. Tony Evers had ordered Friday. He ordered all schools to close by 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Officials also issued a county-wide directive to stop gatherings of 50 or more people. “This order will continue until further notice,” according to the county’s news release.

Restaurants in Dane County will also have to reduce seating capacity by 50 percent.

FRIDAY AND SATURDAY: Woodman’s, Festival Foods Release Statements

In a statement Saturday, Festival Foods, with 30 locations in Wisconsin, announced some services will be discontinued starting Monday because of the new coronavirus.

Those services include: Tot Spot, Heroes Cafe gatherings for veterans and community room reservations. The annual Bunny Hop event on April 4 has also been canceled.

“As Wisconsin’s grocer, we work hard to keep our stores clean, our shelves stocked and provide our guests with the products they need,” the statement reads.

People with questions about certain services and programs at their nearest Festival Foods should contact that store.

In a statement Friday, Woodman’s, based in Janesville, said it is suspending all food sampling at its stores.

The company said each store is “monitoring their stock levels and making ongoing decisions to allow them to continue providing our guests the product and selection they are looking for.” That means some stores may close for a “short time” overnight to restock.

The company also conducts around-the-clock cleaning procedures at all stores and offers cleansing wipes for carts. Staff have been urged to stay home if they are sick.

Editor’s note: This story will be updated.