State news from rock947.com state news coverage.en-usMon, 22 Jun 2020 17:07:56 +0000State issues guidelines to reopen schools[email protected] (Chris Conley)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 17:07:56 +0000, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) — The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction has released a new guidance plan to reopen schools in the fall amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction published Education Forward, a guidance document for Wisconsin district and school leaders to use. The report, dubbed 'Education Forward' tells school administrators to expect COVID-19 to be prominent for the next 18-months.

The nearly 90 page document was released Monday morning.

It offers several scenarios for school schedules, in person or virtual learning, physical distancing, etc. That includes possible four day school weeks, with the fifth day reserved for deep cleaning. It also includes the possibility of two days at school and the remaining days of virtual learning.

The DPI does not have the authority to order schools to close. That rests with the Department of Health Services. The assembly's education committee hears testimony on reopening public schools later this week.

Pence to visit Wisconsin on Tuesday[email protected] (Chris Conley)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 16:25:00 +0000, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) – When Vice President Mike Pence visits Wisconsin this week, he will be joined by Wisconsin’s former governor.

Pence is set to visit Milwaukee Tuesday.

He will be joined by Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos for a school choice roundtable at Waukesha STEM Academy.

Afterward, he will deliver remarks at the Faith In America event in Pewaukee, where he will be joined by Scott Walker.

Meanwhile President Donald Trump will also be coming to Wisconsin next week.

He will tour Marinette Marine on Thursday, where he'll talk about a $200,000 navy contract that could add 1,000 new jobs at the shipyard

Evers' police reforms require legislative approval[email protected] (Tom King)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 10:56:50 +0000, WI (Wisconsin Radio Network-WSAU) -- Rank-and-file state lawmakers say they're interested in working together to make changes to policing in Wisconsin. Governor Tony Evers released a series of legislative proposals last week that would ban choke holds, end no-knock warrants, and would require the state to collect new data in use-of-force cases involving police.

Representative Lakesha Meyers of Milwaukee chairs the Legislative Black Caucus. "We want to get back to real community policing, and having police intervene in serious cases only." Meyers added police reform doesn't mean less public safety. "I want it to be real, I want it to be active, I want it to be something that is sustaining for the people of the state."

Representative John Spiros of Marshfield is a former police officer and chairs the Assembly Criminal Justice Committee. He says Governor Tony Evers' proposal should be considered. "What really needs to happen is that we all need to come together. We need to put together something that's going to work for all of us. We need to keep our communities safe. We need to keep law enforcement safe." 

It's unclear whether Republican legislative leaders have any interest in police reform legislation. Assembly speaker Robin Vos and senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald haven't commented publicly.

Sprios and Meyers were on WISN's UpFront program on Sunday.

Meet the new Alice in Dairyland[email protected] (Tom King)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 09:38:12 +0000, WI (WSAU) - The new Alice in Dairyland is Julia Nunes of Chippewa Falls.

She was selected on Saturday in an on-line event hosted by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

The event was delayed from earlier this summer because of COVID-19 concerns, with the old "Alice," Abigail Martin of Milton, continuing in her role through July 6.

Nunes grew up on a Holstein dairy farm owned by her family. She's a graduate of the University of Minnesota and served as Fairest of the Fair at the Northern Wisconsin State Fair.

She'll spend the next year as the state's official agriculture representative and spokesperson, teaching the public about the importance of farming in Wisconsin. 

Sunday update: No COVID-19 fatalities; positive tests tick upward[email protected] (Tom King)Mon, 22 Jun 2020 08:25:00 +0000, WI (Wisconsin Radio Network-WSAU) -- There were no new deaths due to Coronavirus reported in Wisconsin on Sunday. That followed 14 additional deaths reported on Saturday bringing the statewide total to 744.

On Sunday the Department of Health Services reported 6,051 new test results, of which 280, or 4.6%, came back positive. That's the highest positive rate in two weeks and follows Saturday's 3.8% positive.

Also Saturday, President Donald Trump told those attending his Tulsa campaign event that he'd asked that testing be slowed down due to rising case numbers in the U.S. And the World Health Organization Sunday reported the largest 24 hour case increase by its count, more than 183,000 new infections, including more than 36,000 in the U.S.There have now been more than 24,000 COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin, of which 13% have been hospitalized and 78% have recovered.

One injured after truck drives into crowd[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Sun, 21 Jun 2020 21:33:48 +0000, WI (WSAU) -- Madison Police are investigating what caused a man in a pickup to drive into a downtown crowd early Sunday morning.

Police were called to University Avenue and North Francis at around 3 AM to find one person injured after the vehicle drove through the crowd.

The unidentified individual suffered minor injuries in the incident. Officers say they had to deal with some "uncooperative" individuals while they helped the victim.

By the time Police arrived the suspect had already driven off. They are reviewing security camera footage from the area. Anyone who may have more information is asked to call (608) 266-6014.

Evers Proposes New Policing Initiatives[email protected] (Tom King)Sat, 20 Jun 2020 11:49:36 +0000, WI (MetroSouce-WSAU) A series of legislative proposals have been put forward by Governor Tony Evers in an effort to reduce confrontations between the community and law enforcement.

One bill establishes statewide use of force standards that emphasize preservation of life and the use of deadly force only as a last resort. 

Another bill would require police agencies to develop policies prohibiting the use of chokeholds, prohibiting no-knock search warrants and requiring the Department of Justice to publish an annual report on use of force incidents.

Evers has spoken out against proposals to defund or dismantle police departments, calling those ideas "not practical solutions." Milwaukee's city council is debating whether to steer millions of dollars in police funding towards social programs. A Madison-based activist group Freedom, Inc. has called for less police funding. School distrcits in Milwaukee and Madison are considering stopping the use of school resource officers.

Trump to visit Marinette next week[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Fri, 19 Jun 2020 21:45:37 +0000, WI (WSAU) - President Trump is coming to Wisconsin next week.

He'll tour the Fincantieri Marinette shipyard on Thursday.

The White House announced the visit earlier today. The President is expected to announce a new contract to build ten additional ships for the U.S. Navy. The President will give a speech and will meet with shipyard workers.

It's unclear if there will be any additional events that may be open to the public during the visit. The White House will release a full itinerary early next week.

The new contract for the shipyard would be worth $200-million, and could add up to 1,000 jobs at the facility.


School districts await guidance on reopening[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Fri, 19 Jun 2020 19:08:21 +0000, WI (Wisconsin Radio Network) - The picture for the next school year in Wisconsin should be more clear soon.

The Department of Public Instruction is set to release its recommendations for the new school year on Monday. Public schools in Wisconsin have been online-only since March because of the coronavirus.

Governor Evers and his administration haven't said much yet about plans for the fall. Local school leaders say they need to know how to open safely, and when.

CDC: COVID-19 Causing Vaccination Rates to Drop[email protected] (Rob Sussman)Fri, 19 Jun 2020 16:27:20 +0000, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) -- Doctors say staying at home during the pandemic doesn’t mean ignoring your kid's check-ups. They’re reminding parents to keep their child's vaccinations up-to-date.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says child immunization rates are plummeting in the U.S.

“We’ve definitely seen a decrease in the rate of routine vaccinations, actually, I believe in Oregon, there’s been about a 50% decrease,” said Dr. Abby Smolcich at ThedaCare Physicians Pediatrics-Darboy

Smolcich blames the pandemic.“COVID-19 has definitely been at the forefront of everybody’s mind, with how quickly it spread and how quickly it erupted and, you know, how scary it can be,” she said.

But fewer children getting their shots raises concerns about outbreaks of diseases a vaccine can control.

“Measles – there have been several outbreaks of measles, whopping cough, you know, there are these vaccine-preventable diseases that, unfortunately, when children get, can leave them with severe disabilities, even death,” said Smolcich.

ThedaCare pediatricians say they understand the hesitation that some parents have, bringing in their babies or toddlers in for immunizations, but they say they are taking every precaution possible to ensure that everybody who walks through their doors is safe.

Jason Keppler says he has seen the changes at the doctor's office.

“We just took the kids to their primary care provider within the last two weeks,” Appleton parent Jason Keppler said. “Things have changed dramatically – they’re wearing masks, getting screenings of temperatures before going in and everything.”

Pediatricians say, for other parents, it may not even be the office they see as unsafe, but the vaccines themselves.

“There are a lot of people who are vaccine-hesitant,” Smolcich said. “That’s been an issue that has been ongoing for a number of years. Families are reading this misinformation, and coming to a conclusion that vaccines are not safe.”

Keppler isn’t one of them.

“I’m pro-vaccination, so yes, I do think it’s completely worth it,” he said.

Health officials say keeping on top of regularly scheduled vaccinations is also important, as some immunizations wane over time.

Fmr. Governor Tommy Thompson Appointed as Interim UW System President[email protected] (Rob Sussman)Fri, 19 Jun 2020 15:05:16 +0000, WI (WTAQ) -- Former Governor Tommy Thompson has been appointed as the interim President of the University of Wisconsin system. 

Board of Regents President Andrew S. Petersen made that announcement Friday.

“The University of Wisconsin System is the state’s most valuable asset, and I will be its biggest advocate and its toughest evaluator,” Thompson said. “No other institution in the state can do more to improve lives, communities, and Wisconsin’s economy.”


Thompson is the only four-term Governor in Wisconsin history. 

Thompson will take on the job starting July 1st, taking over for outgoing President Ray Cross

Juneteenth flag to fly over state capitol[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Fri, 19 Jun 2020 10:50:41 +0000, WI (Wisconsin Radio Network) - The Evers adminstration is making more flag news.

Governor Tony Evers announced Wednesday that the Juneteenth flag will fly at the State Capitol Friday. Juneteenth is marked annually on June 19 and commemorates the end of slavery in America on that date in 1865.

This will be the first time the Juneteenth flag has flown at the Capitol. It will temporarily replace the Pride flag, which Evers last year ordered to be flown over the East Wing, below the U.S. flag and Wisconsin flags for the rest of June for Pride Month.

Evers distributes $80 million to schools[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Fri, 19 Jun 2020 10:46:51 +0000, WI (Wisconsin Radio Network) - Governor Tony Evers will distribute more than $80 million to help K-12 schools and higher education institutions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The emergency funding comes from more than $3  billion in federal dollars the state received under the CARES Act. Evers has discretion to assign two billion wherever he sees fit.

Just over $46 million will go to K-12 schools.

Colleges and universities will receive $37 million including $20 million to the UW System, coming just as UW-Madison and UW-Milwaukee announced plans to reopen for in-person classes in the fall.

Biden spokesman says he'll accept Democratic nomination in Milwaukee[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Thu, 18 Jun 2020 21:09:20 +0000, WI (WSAU) -- Joe Biden appears ready to accept the Democratic nomination for President in Milwaukee.

"Democrats are going to have a convention this August where Joe Biden will accept the party’s nomination," said campaign spokesman Bill Russo. He went on to add that the Convention will be "the final stretch to ending the Trump Administration."

It remains unclear how much of the Convention will take place in person at Fiserv Forum. Party leaders have been considering holding some events virtually, and Biden himself has at times called for a smaller convention.

The Convention had been scheduled for mid-July but was pushed back by a month just after the COVID-19 outbreak.

Republican incumbent Donald Trump will accept his formal nomination in Jacksonville, FL after the party chose to move their Convention out of Charlotte, NC.

Recovery Rate Surpasses 75% Despite Highest Increase of Cases in Weeks[email protected] (Casey Nelson)Thu, 18 Jun 2020 19:24:50 +0000, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) - Wisconsin's COVID-19 recovery rate has surpassed 75%, while also seeing the most new confirmed cases of coronavirus infection in two weeks on Thursday.

The state Department of Health Services reports 422 positive tests for the virus over a 24-hour period. That is the highest number since 492 were reported on June 4. There were also 10,177 negative tests. The positive test rate of 4% is a jump from Wednesday's 2.6%.

There have now been 23,876 cases of coronavirus in Wisconsin and 433,913 negative tests.

76% of all confirmed cases in the state, or 18,055 cases, have been reported as recovered. 21% of cases - or 5,101 - are currently active. 

The state also reports seven new deaths on Thursday, bringing the total to 719. That remains around 3% of all cases reported in Wisconsin.

While new cases were up, the number of hospital patients continued its downward trend.

Wisconsin hospitals say they are caring for 240 patients with confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. That is four fewer than Wednesday. There are 83 patients receiving intensive care, 11 fewer than Wednesday. Another 174 patients are awaiting their test results.

In the eight-county Fox Valley region, where hospitalizations spiked to 24 over the weekend, there are 16 COVID-19 patients as of Thursday.

Two New Studies Announced to Track Coronavirus[email protected] (Casey Nelson)Wed, 17 Jun 2020 23:22:35 +0000, WI (WTAQ) - Two new studies were announced by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services on Wednesday.

The studies are designed to help the state gain a better understanding of where COVID-19 has spread across the state, identify communities potentially at risk for outbreaks, and help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

One study will test samples from wastewater treatment facilities, in both urban and rural areas, to determine the current concentration levels of virus genetic material found in sewage. While it might sound a bit odd, it has been utilized to track a number of diseases throughout the years. 

"This is been used historically for viruses like hepatitis A or norovirus or even polio," says Dr. John Meiman of the Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, "So there was interest in trying to use some of these methods early on during the COVID-19 outbreak in several European countries to see if they could detect outbreaks early."

The other study, led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Survey of the Health of Wisconsin, will determine the prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies in Wisconsin.

Positive Trends Do Not Mean End of COVID-19[email protected] (Casey Nelson)Wed, 17 Jun 2020 23:08:50 +0000, WI (WTAQ) - The COVID-19 pandemic appears to be on a downward slide in Wisconsin, but health officials say while they're becoming optimistic - it's not quite over yet.

"We're not done until we're highly confident that we have this contained," says Dr. John Meiman of the Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Health, "We still have a lot more work to do, but our hope is that what we're seeing is some of the success of all the work we've been doing over the last few months."

Meiman and Dr. Ryan Westergaard of the Bureau of Infectious Disease continued to urge residents to maintain the safety measures that they have been using for the past several months. 

"In Wisconsin, if we can communicate and coalesce the idea that adopting these of infection prevention strategies - like wearing masks in public, maintain physical distance - I think there's a lot of good that can be done," Westergaard says. 

There have been questions and concerns raised over the potential of a resurgence of the virus in coming months. A serious spike in cases across the state could cause major issues for those working to treat infected patients. 

"If we experience the level of spread of COVID-19 that we do for influenza every year, that could translate to a large number of hospitalizations, a lot of serious illness, and could really be a stretch our health system," Westergaard explains, "That, we find unacceptable. It doesn't mean it won't happen. We could have a very serious respiratory virus season."

But both Meiman and Westergaard continued to express confidence in the growth of programs and systems implemented to counter the spread of the coronavirus.

"We're having 200 cases per day now in the state as we're building our capacity to respond to outbreaks and doing quarantine. It is not impossible that we could contain the number of cases and drive it down further," Westergaard says. 

Two new studies to better understand exactly where the virus has hit in the state were also introduced on Wednesday. 

Wednesday Update: Number of Confirmed COVID-19 Patients in Intensive Care Drops[email protected] (Rob Sussman)Wed, 17 Jun 2020 22:21:13 +0000, WI (WTAQ-WLUK) -- The number of confirmed coronavirus patients receiving intensive care in Wisconsin hospitals has fallen below 100.

Hospital data posted on the state Department of Health Services' website Wednesday shows 94 patients in ICU, six fewer than on Tuesday. There are 244 people hospitalized with COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, a one-day drop of 31. Another 179 people are awaiting their test results.

On Wednesday, DHS reported 256 new confirmed cases of coronavirus, along with 9,406 negative tests. The 2.6% rate of positive tests is up slightly from Tuesday.

So far, there have been 23,454 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Wisconsin and 423,736 negative tests.

Around 75% of cases have recovered.

For the second day in a row, nine new deaths were reported. A total of 712 deaths in Wisconsin have been linked to COVID-19.

DHS believes 17,122 people have recovered.

State hospitals have 1,259 ventilators on hand, with 319 in use. That is the same number as on Tuesday.

Of the 11,477 hospital beds in Wisconsin, 2,707 are available.

Conservative group files lawsuit against Wisconsin DNR[email protected] (Michael Leischner)Wed, 17 Jun 2020 17:21:30 +0000, WI (WSAU) -- A conservative group has filed a lawsuit against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources over the cancellation of hunter safety courses.

In a complaint that was filed just before noon on Wednesday, officials say the DNR is out of bounds for saying the will not honor hunter safety certificates for anyone who completes an in-person course during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty has filed the suit on behalf of Hunter Nation, whose CEO lives in Marshfield.

The complaint says the DNR lacks the authority to cancel the in-person classes and that the policy violates the Wisconsin constitution

The DNR has not responded to requests for comment.

Close Call On Lake Michigan[email protected] (Robert Kennedy)Wed, 17 Jun 2020 08:44:14 +0000, WI (WTAQ) - The U.S. Coast Guard rescued three people from the waters of Lake Michigan Tuesday.

Around 6 p.m., the Coast Guard Station in Sheboygan reported a boat was taking on water about two miles east of Two Rivers.

A 45-foot response boat and helicopter crew responded to the call.

Three people in the partially submerged vessel were within cell phone range and were able to call for assistance. They also had flares which helped rescue crews locate the vessel.

The three people were brought to safety, while the capsized boat was towed to Two Rivers.

No injuries were reported. All three had life jackets on.