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UPDATE March 27 6:18 p.m.

Oconto County records first coronavirus case

Wisconsin health officials have confirmed the first case of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in Oconto County. Health officials are investigating how the person may have become infected, and will be contacting individuals who may have had close contact with the patient.

To protect patient privacy and ensure compliance with federal HIPAA laws, additional details about the patient cannot be released, said Deb Konitzer, county health officer.

“We are in daily contact with this individual to monitor their symptoms and ensure they are receiving support to be able to isolate at home,” Konitzer said. “The Oconto County Health Department is ready to deal with this situation and will continue to work with Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and our local partners to make sure our community remains safe and healthy.

“The best thing people can do is practice everyday good health habits – cover your coughs and sneezes by coughing into your upper sleeve, wash your hands often, and stay home if you’re sick,” she said. “Everyone should be following the Safer at Home order provided by Governor Evers which limits all non-essential travel and prohibits social gatherings. These efforts can help to slow the spread of the virus.”

UPDATE March 27 1 p.m.

Shawano logs 30 negative tests, ‘many more’ tests waiting

The Shawano-Menominee County Health Department has released a statement saying that it is likely that COVID-19 is present in the area, even though tests have not yet yielded a positive result.

“In Shawano and Menominee Counties, while we currently have more than 30 negative tests and many more are waiting for results or being tested, we are still watching for our first confirmed positive case. We know there is illness in the community and it is likely we have COVID-19 among us. With limited testing available to detect a confirmed case, we encourage you to keep watching for any signs or symptoms and to stay home as much as possible, but especially if you have illness,” the health department said.

“On March 24, 2020, Governor Evers issued the Safer at Home Order. Our entire state must take steps together. This is a big challenge and it is important that we all take this seriously. Lives are at stake.”

“COVID-19 has surprised us all with the level of impact it has had on our lives. We have taken some important steps to fight COVID-19 and we applaud all of the efforts our counties and tribes have taken to respond to this pandemic. Now is the time for us to collectively do all we can to protect the health and safety of our community,” the release states.

UPDATE March 24 11 a.m.

Evers gives specifics on Safer at Home order

Gov. Tony Evers directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm on Tuesday to issue a Safer at Home order that prohibits all nonessential travel, with some exceptions as clarified and defined in the order. The order is available here.

The order is effective at 8 a.m. on Wednesday and will remain in effect until 8 a.m. April 24 or until a superseding order is issued.

“I know the COVID-19 outbreak has been difficult and has disrupted the lives of people across our state. Issuing a Safer at Home order isn’t something I thought we’d have to do and it’s not something I take lightly, but here’s the bottom line, folks need to start taking this seriously,” Evers said in a press release. “Each and every one of us has to do our part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 so we can flatten the curve to ensure our doctors, nurses and healthcare workers have the opportunity to do their important work. Let’s all do our part and work together.”

Individuals do not need special permission to leave their homes, but they must comply with this order as to when it is permissible to leave home. If a business is an essential business or operation as defined in this order, it does not need documentation or certification to continue its work that is done in compliance with this order.

Under this order, Wisconsin residents are able to perform tasks essential to maintain health and safety, such as obtaining medicine or seeing a doctor; get necessary services or supplies for themselves or their family or household members, such as getting food and supplies, pet food and supplies necessary for staying at home; care for a family member in another household; and care for older adults, minors, dependents, people with disabilities or other vulnerable people.

Businesses allowed to operate under the Safer at Home order include, but are not limited to health care operations, including home health workers; critical infrastructure; businesses that provide food, shelter, and social services, and other necessities of life for economically disadvantaged or otherwise vulnerable individuals; fresh and non-perishable food retailers, including convenience stores, grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and food banks; businesses that ship or deliver groceries, food and goods directly to residences; pharmacies, health care supply stores and health care facilities; child care facilities, with some limitations; gas stations and auto repair facilities; banks; laundry businesses, dry cleaners and services necessary for maintaining the safety, sanitation and essential operation of a residence, including garbage collection; hardware stores, plumbers, and electricians; educational institutions, for the purposes of facilitating distance learning; roles required for any business to maintain minimum basic operations, which includes security, and payroll; and law and safety, and essential government functions will continue under the recommended action.

Farming and animal care will also be allowed to operate, including: food and beverage manufacturing, production, processing, transportation, and cultivation; farming, livestock, fishing, baking, and other production agriculture, including cultivation, marketing, production, and distribution of animals and goods for consumption; businesses that provide food, shelter, and other necessities of life for animals, including animal shelters, boarding, rescues, kennels, and adopting facilities; farm and agriculture equipment, supplies, and repair services.

The order contains detailed information regarding the exemptions provided to certain businesses.

Businesses including Travel

UPDATE March 26 10:45 a.m.

CoVantage authorizes $20M to help members

The CoVantage Credit Union board of directors has authorized that up to $20 million be made available to assist existing credit union member-owners affected financially by the recent pandemic emergency.

Member relief efforts will focus on providing financial relief for CoVantage members including opportunities for deferring payments on existing loans, waiving late fees on loans, deferring first payments on new consumer loans, and more. Individuals, families and businesses who are current CoVantage members should reach out to CoVantage if they need assistance.

“CoVantage has a long history of assisting member-owners in times of need, and we are devoted to helping those who have supported their credit union,” said Charlie Zanayed, CoVantage CEO. “CoVantage would not be able to offer this relief program if it wasn’t for our members’ support. Credit unions were created to serve during difficult times, and CoVantage is well-positioned to make these resources available to our members today.”

Special efforts are being put into place to support CoVantage credit union members (including business members) who are most affected by the health, economic, and social impacts of this pandemic.

“While we certainly won’t be able to help every individual or business, and we can’t solve every problem, we will always be ready to try to be there for those who are a part of our cooperative,” Zanayed said.

Because CoVantage serves many low- and moderate-income communities, the United States Treasury has designated CoVantage as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). The CDFI designation allows CoVantage to apply for and receive grant funds.

CoVantage will be applying for grant funds recently made available for pandemic relief, with hopes of assisting even more people served by the financial cooperative. While there is no guarantee CoVantage will be awarded grants, if approved, CoVantage will share additional details with member-owners and the communities that the credit union serves.

Call 800-398-2667 or visit www.covantagecu.org/COVID19 for information.

UPDATE March 17 9:01 a.m.

Cellcom providing free internet for 2 months

An internet service provider is offering local service and wi-fi free at least through April during the COVID-19 crisis.

Shawano residents in the Cellcom home internet service area who do not have an existing Cellcom home internet connection can get service and wi-fi free for two months. To enroll, call 715-851-7350. Installation fees will be waived for these households. Cellcom’s home internet service area is within the city limits of Shawano.

Cellcom’s fiber-fast network has unlimited capacity and will not be negatively impacted by the anticipated increased usage by local students and remote workers, according to a press release from the company.

For the next 60 days, Cellcom will not terminate service of any residential wireless or home internet customers because of inability to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus and any late fees will be waived. This is in cooperation with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) Keep Americans Connected Pledge.

Churches

Church on the Hill United Methodist Church announced that Church on the Hill in Shawano and Salem Church in Red River will suspend face-to-face worship beginning this Sunday and continuing through the month of March. There will also be no gatherings/activities in either church until the suspension is lifted.

First Presbyterian Church in Shawano in canceling worship March 18.

In a post on its Facebook page, First Presbyterian also announced that Sunday Fun Day is closed this week, March 15, as well as next Sunday, March 22. In addition, community dinner has been cancelled on March 24.

St. James Lutheran Church posted notice of steps it is taking in light of COVID-19, including hand sanitizer stations at every church entrance. The church is also asking attendees to refrain from handshakes and hugs in greeting one another. All communion servers will wash their hands and use sanitizer before serving communion, the church stated on its website.

This is not meant to be a comprehensive list. Please check with your own place of worship on any changes.

City government

UPDATE March 23 2:34 p.m.

City suspends wood waste, bulky item collection

SHAWANO — The city is suspending the collection of wood waste and bulky items until further notice as of Wednesday and postponing spring cleanup to an undetermined future date.

Regular garbage and recycling pick-up will continue, however.

The changes are the latest developments in the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and state orders mandating social distancing and requiring non-essential workers to stay at home.

City of Shawano issues emergency declaration

UPDATE March 23 2:34 p.m.

SHAWANO — The city Monday issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.

The proclamation followed the announcement that Gov. Tony Evers planned to issue a stay-at-home order closing all non-essential businesses and services statewide.

The Shawano proclamation states that the city will make all of its resources available to adopt, implement and support all actions and recommendations of federal, state and county public health agencies.

Under the emergency declaration, all in-person meetings and gatherings involving city employees, staff and elected officials are being suspended.

Any necessary meetings of the Shawano Common Council, committees, commissions and boards would be conducted remotely.

Currently, there are no meetings scheduled but the city will likely have to hold its April reorganizational meeting following the April 7 election.

“If we have to meet, if there is something that is required that we need to do in a timely manner, we will meet but it will be done remotely,” City Clerk Lesley Nemetz said.

Read the full story at http://www.newmedia-wi.com/content/city-shawano-issues-emergency-declara...

UPDATE March 23 8:15 a.m.

Shawano extends absentee voting hours

SHAWANO — The city is holding extended absentee voting hours two days a week ahead of the April 7 election to give voters who might not be able vote during regular hours a chance to cast their ballots.

Shawano City Hall, 127 S. Sawyer St., will remain available to curbside in-person voting up until 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, March 24, 26, 31 and April 2.

The move is part of a push being made to encourage absentee voting statewide due to health concerns over the COVID-19 coronavirus.

“In an effort to continue to keep our residents and staff safe, the city of Shawano is continuing to urge its residents to utilize www.myvote.wi.gov to obtain an absentee ballot for the upcoming April 7 election,” the city said in a statement.

Those who don’t have the ability to upload a photo ID to that site can mail a written request to City Hall. You will need to provide a copy of your ID with the request.

Curbside absentee voting is available if neither of those options are practical for voters.

“We will continue to keep you informed of any changes the city makes regarding the services being provided to our residents,” the city said in the statement. “We hope you are all able to stay safe and healthy during this time and are here for you if you have any questions. Thank you as always for your understanding and patience during these rapidly changing times.”

UPDATE March 16 10:10 A.M.

City offices, alternative means of doing business suggested

SHAWANO — All municipal buildings in the city of Shawano closed Monday amid concerns surrounding the coronavirus, though critical operations will continue.

“We’re going to close our facilities to the public, but our employees are going to continue working as normal,” City Administrator Eddie Sheppard said Friday.

“We will make arrangements for any emergency business that needs to be conducted,” he added.

City staff will continue to hold meetings as necessary, but public meetings are temporarily canceled.

There is no defined timeline on these measures, with the city saying it will be in effect until further notice.

The city put out a statement Friday afternoon as follows:

“The City of Shawano has been monitoring updates from the Centers for Disease Control, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Shawano-Menominee Health Department regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19).

“Out of respect for the health and safety of our employees and the community, the City of Shawano has decided to close all municipal buildings to the public, effective Monday (March 16) until further notice. These buildings include City Hall, Police Department lobby, Recreation Center, Civic Center, Shawano Municipal Utilities and Public Works offices. All city public meetings will also be canceled until further notice.

“At this time, it is our intention to maintain all essential/critical city functions with our employees continuing in their normal capacity, while working within the facilities closed to the public. Residents will see no change in the level of services provided including public safety (Police/Fire/ambulance), curbside services, etc. The land fill will remain open to the public during this time; however all transactions will need to be made with debit or credit card payments – no cash transactions will be accepted.”

The senior meal program held at the Civic Center will still deliver to those individuals already scheduled. Individuals who go to the Civic Center for a meal can still do so. However it will be for pick up only, with no dine-in option available during this time, according to the city statement.

All residents making real estate tax payments to the City of Shawano or utility payments to Shawano Municipal Utilities can do so by mailing, placing their payments in the drop boxes located outside of these facilities or by using the online payment portals found on the city’s website.

Contact City Hall, 715-526-6138, for all other transactions including pet licensing, taxi tickets, voter registration and in-office absentee voting, or any other questions.

The March 19 and April 9 Shawano-Bonduel Municipal Court dates have been rescheduled. All Shawano appearances have been rescheduled for May 14, and the Bonduel appearances have been rescheduled for April 16. If payments have already been made, individuals may disregard their court date unless it is mandatory.

Shawano-Bonduel Municipal Court payments can also be made via the City Hall drop box or via the online payment option.

“We appreciate your understanding and cooperation as we do our part to help limit the exposure to our community,” the statement concluded.

Community

UPDATE March 27 2:30 p.m

Evictions, foreclosures suspended during COVID-19 crisis

Gov. Tony Evers directed Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to temporarily order the suspension of evictions and foreclosures on Friday amid the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The order prohibits landlords from evicting tenants for any reason unless failure to proceed with the eviction will result in an imminent threat of serious physical harm to another person and mortgagees from commencing civil action to foreclose on real estate for 60 days. Wisconsinites who are able to continue to meet their financial obligations are urged to do so. This order does not in any way relieve a person’s obligation to pay their rent or mortgages.

“During this time individuals, families, and small businesses may see disruptions in paychecks due to losing hours, tips, business, or employment. This is another step we can take to prioritize the health and safety of Wisconsinites during this public health emergency,” Evers said. “Evictions and foreclosures pose a direct and serious threat to the health and well-being of Wisconsinites, ensuring they are able to keep a roof over their heads and those in social services can prioritize assisting those who currently do not have shelter is critically important.”

UPDATE March 25 12:15 p.m.

Shawano closes playgrounds

The city announced Tuesday it is closing down city playgrounds in compliance with the state’s stay-at-home order as part of the response to the COVID-19 health emergency.

Parks will remain open, but playground equipment will be sealed off, City Clerk Lesley Nemetz said.

The city released the following statement:

“Governor Evers has issued Emergency Order 12, the Safer At Home Order. Within the contents of this order, the City of Shawano is required to close our playgrounds until further notice.

“Please note that we will be keeping our parks open for those individuals that would like to engage in other outdoor activities such as walking, biking, hiking or running, so long as they are complying with the social distancing requirements provided by the State.

“Along with the playgrounds being closed, the order states that individuals may not engage in team or contact sports such as basketball, ultimate frisbee, soccer or football.

“As a municipality, the last thing we want to do is tell you not to use our parks, however we are asking you to follow these guidelines to help keep yourself and your neighbors safe and healthy during these difficult times.”

UPDATE March 23 8:32 a.m.

Abrams theater holding virtual auditions for summer show

ABRAMS — Auditions for the next Abrams Spotlight Productions Inc. show are being held this week but, in keeping with the season, not face-to-face.

The community theater troupe is holding virtual auditions for its summer play, “Mark Twain’s the Diaries of Adam and Eve.” Adults and teens 16 and older are encouraged to audition. The play calls for a variety of roles, both male and female. Newcomers are encouraged to audition. No previous experience is necessary.

The play is a light-hearted look at the world’s first love story through the eyes of America’s great humorist, Mark Twain. Throughout the play, the Garden of Eden bursts with wit, laughter and the lyric poignance of the first love and the first loss.

The show is scheduled to be presented June 19-21 and 26-28 at the Nancy Byng Community Theater, 5852 Maple St., Abrams.

Anyone interested in auditioning should email theater.aspi@gmail.com or call 920-826-5852. Individuals will be asked to record themselves reading from the script and submit the recording electronically. The theater group will provide the reading. Submissions are due by 8 p.m. Friday.

Anyone interested in helping out behind the scenes should call 920-826-5852 to volunteer.

First produced for “American Playhouse” on PBS, “Mark Twain’s the Diaries of Adam and Eve” is a uniquely American theater piece. The show has been produced more than 200 times in both extended runs and touring engagements at regional theaters, university theaters and performing arts centers across the country.

County and State Government

Update March 24 1:35 p.m.

District attorney’s office closed to the public

SHAWANO —The Shawano-Menominee County District Attorney’s office has been closed to the public in response to the COVID-19 health emergency.

The office is being restricted to staff and prosecutors for the time being.

“This has become necessary given the recommendations of the Shawano County Health Department and the recommendations of the Governor’s Office and CDC in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic,” District Attorney Greg Parker said in a notice issued by his office.

Anyone who is a victim or witness and who needs to contact the office is being asked to call 715-526-4608 and ask to speak to the victim/witness staff.

Anyone else with matters needing to be addressed by the district attorney’s office can call office staff at 715-526-2166.

Read the full story at http://www.newmedia-wi.com/content/district-attorney%E2%80%99s-office-cl...

UPDATE March 24 9:44 a.m.

Oconto County closes buildings to the public

Oconto County facilities will be closed to the public effective on Tuesday. Offices will remain open.

Signs will be placed on the entrances notifying the public of such and to contact the County Clerk’s Office at 920-834-6800.

Also, no County Board committee meetings until April 20.

Jury trials are canceled in Oconto County Circuit Court at least through April 30. Jurors summoned for this time period are not required to report and or call the jury line at Oconto County Clerk of Court. In addition, your jury service will be satisfied for four years. General court inquiries should be directed to 920-834-6858.

UPDATE March 23 9:47 a.m.

Oconto County needs poll workers

OCONTO – Kim Pytleski, Oconto County Clerk, is calling on residents of Oconto County willing to serve as poll workers for the April 7 election to replace poll workers who are unable to serve due to age or health concerns from the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Oconto County has approximately 140 poll workers, known as election inspectors, who serve at polling places. A significant number of them are in their 60s, 70s, and 80s, and many may have other health conditions.

“If you are a state, county or municipal employee, a teacher, a student or someone who is looking for temporary work, we need your help.” Pytleski said.

In Wisconsin, election inspectors are appointed at the municipal level. Anyone who is interested in working should contact the clerk’s office immediately.

Wisconsin law also allows people to serve as election inspectors in other municipalities within their county. If you are willing to serve in a municipality outside of your own, let your clerk know and they can alert the county about your availability. You can also contact the county directly and can find contact information for county clerks at https://elections.wi.gov/clerks/directory.

Municipal clerks will provide training for any new election inspectors before the election.

The Wisconsin Elections Commission and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services are working to provide local election officials with guidance for ways to conduct the election safely and securely.

Voter turnout at the polling place is expected to be much lower than normal, but workers are still needed to process a much higher number of absentee ballots than normal.

UPDATE March 23 8:24 a.m.

Oconto County Board declares state of emergency

OCONTO — The Oconto County Board voted unanimously Thursday to ratify a state of emergency resolution in the wake of what the World Health Organization has described as a pandemic from the novel strain of coronavirus dubbed COVID-19.

County Board Chairman Paul Bednarek had signed the declaration two days earlier on March 17, proclaiming a state of emergency through July 17 enabling the county “to employ and expend all available resources to protect the health, safety and welfare of persons and property in Oconto County.”

The vote was 24-0 to ratify Bednarek’s action, with seven supervisors not in attendance, in a meeting that was moved from the board chambers at the Oconto County Courthouse to the more spacious conference room at the adjacent Law Enforcement Center.

The board also passed a variety of more routine business items, including the election of Brandon Hytinen as the county’s new highway commissioner. Hytinen has been assistant highway commissioner under Pat Scanlan, who last month announced his retirement from the position effective April 3.

Salaries were set for the next four-year terms of the county clerk, register of deeds and treasurer, who will be elected in the November election.

The resolution – approved 23-1 with Supervisor Gary Frank dissenting – provides a 6.8% increase over the incumbents’ current salaries to $62,010 in 2021, followed by 2% annual raises for the next three years to $70,296.01 in 2024.

The board did postpone action on resolutions related to the closeout of the county Revolving Loan Fund and applications for two related Community Development Block Grant projects.

UPDATE March 20 10:30 a.m.

County urging business by phone, online

SHAWANO — The coronavirus outbreak has Shawano County officials urging the public to conduct as much of its business via the county website, www.co.shawano.wi.us.

For those issues that cannot be resolved online, people should call the applicable department, including the following: administration and finance, 715-524-4611; child support, 715-526-2190; clerk of courts, 715-526-9347; county clerk, 715-526-8150; corporation counsel, 715-524-3181; district attorney, 715-526-2166; emergency management, 715-526-6774; health, 715-526-4808; highway, 715-526-9182; human services, 715-526-4700; land conservation, 715-526-4820; maintenance, 715-526-6685; parks, 715-524-4986; planning and development, 715-526-6766; register of deeds, 715-524-2129; register in probate, 715-526-8631; sheriff, 715-526-3111; technology services, 715-526-4615; University of Wisconsin-Extension, 715-526-6136; veterans services, 715-526-9183; victim witness, 715-526-4608; and WIC, 715-526-2822.

For those who must come to the courthouse, visitation should be limited to the people that the issue concerns. Anyone who is coughing or sick should not come into courthouse unless it’s an emergency.

Gas prices / consumer issues

 

Health system

UPDATE March 28 12:15 p.m.

Prevea Health offers online screening

Prevea Health is offering free online screening and evaluation for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) through Prevea Virtual Care at www.prevea.com/virtualcare.

Prevea Virtual Care visits for COVID-19 assess the patient’s symptoms and provide information about COVID-19. If additional care is needed, patients will be provided specific directions about where to go for lab testing and follow-up care to ensure they receive the care they need while maintaining a safe distance from others. If a patient needs additional lab tests or follow-up care, it will be billed to the patient’s insurance provider.

Prevea Virtual Care is available to anyone in the state, regardless of whether they’ve been with Prevea or not.

Those with symptoms of COVID-19 — including fever, cough and shortness of breath — should stay home and use Prevea Virtual Care online or call 920-431-1810 to receive a free assessment by phone. If symptoms are severe and life-threatening, they should call 911.

If they prefer to travel to the emergency room on their own, they should call the hospital prior to their arrival to explain their symptoms. This will provide the emergency department time to prepare for their arrival and be sure that others in the area will be protected from the potential spread of infectious disease.

In addition to the COVID-19 assessment, Prevea Virtual Care also offers online diagnoses and treatment for a variety of common health conditions, allowing people to receive care from the safety and comfort of home which is especially important during this time. Prevea Virtual Care visits for common health conditions are offered for only $35 each.

Schools

UPDATE March 19 5 p.m.

Shawano School District announces food distribution

Shawano School District bagged breakfast/lunch program begins Monday and will run weekdays while school is closed from 10-11 a.m.

District administrator Randi Anderson said about 430 children have already been signed up for the program. Families fill out an online survey to participate, and Anderson noted that the program is still open for any district student.

Parents are asked to pick up food at locations throughout the district at a time based on students’ last names. They are asked to keep social distancing in mind when picking up breakfasts and lunches.

“We don’t want to see a line of kids waiting to get food,” Anderson said. “Social distancing is so important. We are hoping that because we are going by last name, that will help, and there will be an administrator present.”

The distribution schedule is based on the first letter of the student’s last name: A-D, 10 a.m.; E-H, 10:10 a.m.; I-L, 10:20 a.m.; M-P, 10:30 a.m.; Q-T 10:40 a.m.; and U-Z 10:50 a.m.

Pickup locations are Shawano Community Middle School, the old Wescott Town Hall on Lake Drive, Bartlett and Fifth streets near the site of the old hospital, Franklin Park, Elizabeth Street and Eberlein Park.

UPDATE March 17 3:53 p.m.

MISD cancels annual scholarship gala

The Menominee Indian School District (MISD) has canceled its annual scholarship gala due to the COVID-19 pandemic scheduled for March 27 at the Menominee Casino and Resort Conference Center.

“Of course, we are very disappointed that we have to cancel,” said MISD Superintendent Wendell Waukau in a press release. “But, in the interest of public health and safety, it is the right thing to do.”
This would have been the seventh annual Gala, which has raised more than $181,000 for student scholarships, according to a press release.

Tribes

UPDATE March 20 2:25 p.m.

KESHENA - Children in the Menominee reservation’s Head Start program will start receiving food deliveries on March 23, according to Vaughn Bowles, tribal public information officer.

That’s one of the continuing responses to the COVID-19 pandemic as discussed in the daily meeting of the tribe’s incident command team.

Students in the Menominee Indian School District (MISD) can go to their school for two days of food on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Bowles said.

The tribe’s Aging Department is also maintaining its food service program but is now only providing takeout and home delivery meals, Bowles continued. The priority is on those seniors who are restricted to their homes and other elders.

Bowles credited tribal leadership with taking the pandemic seriously and providing good examples. He said part of the reason why some people haven’t taken the pandemic seriously is that we haven’t had a disease like this since the Spanish Flu Epidemic of 1918 and they have nothing for comparison. The tribal public information officer observed COVID-19 is different and it is much more lethal than the flu.

Infections are not confined to the elderly as has been the experience early in the pandemic, Bowles said. He cited Doug Cox, who is coordinating with other tribes on the pandemic, in telling the Friday meeting that a 17-year-old boy on the Bad River Reservation in Ashland County had tested positive, as an indication that all age groups are at risk.

Bowles expressed concern for young people who contract COVID-19 and survive but then have to live with damaged lungs.

Menominee gaming operations and the hotel close on Friday, Bowles said. The tribal buildings are being subjected to a deep cleaning.

Tribal government departments are allowing only essential personnel to come to work, with the remainder working from home, Bowles said. Operations are also being consolidated into fewer spaces.

Employees of the tribe will remain on the payroll during the shutdown, Bowles said. Other entities, such as Menominee Tribal Enterprises (MTE), will make separate decisions on whether to pay employees.

MTE forest work remains open, he continued, as most of those workers operate power equipment from an isolated cab or perform tasks at a distance from other people. The MTE board will soon be deciding on its next steps in keeping the business open.

UPDATE March 17 12:15 p.m.

Stockbridge-Munsee closes reservation library

An announcement was posted on Facebook on Tuesday morning that the Arvid E. Miller Memorial Library and Museum would be closed to the public until further notice.

There were no other details in the announcement besides a promise that the tribe would inform the public when the library was open again.

Menominee courts make changes due to coronavirus

The Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin announced that it is making changes to court proceedings due to the ongoing issues involving the coronavirus.

Chief Justice Stephan Tourtillott-Grochowski sent out a memo saying that only people who are required to be in the courtroom. All jury trials will be suspended until further notice, but bench trials and court appearances will still be taking place. Jury duty service is also in abeyance.

For information, call 715-799-3348.

UPDATE March 16

Stockbridge-Munsee Community issues emergency declaration

BOWLER — The Stockbridge-Munsee Tribal Council Friday declared a a Tribal State of Public Health Emergency based on the COVID-19 outbreak.

“This is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation,” President Shannon Holsey said in a statement. “We must be vigilant in our efforts to prevent the introduction and spread of infections within the community that we serve. The Mohican Nation is working closely with federal, state, local, other tribal, and territorial partners, as well as with other public health partners, to respond to this public health threat. The Mohican Nation has established an internal Incident Command team and structure to coordinate our response to and implementation of a plan to deal with the COVID19 pandemic issue. We will continue to keep you updated as developments arise.”

The tribe also announced that the Mohican Family Center would be closed until further notice.

“At this point, the Tribal Council plans to have the Tribe continue normal operations for the most part,” the tribe said in an earlier statement on Thursday. “We will have more emphasis on cleaning, particularly in areas open to the general public, and adding additional deep cleaning sessions. We are adding more hand-sanitizer stations in public areas. We will be making cleaning supplies are available to employees so that you can add wiping down surfaces as part of your daily routine. We have a website https://www.mohican.com/covid-19-information/ where additional information will be posted as conditions change in our area."

UPDATE March 13 5:14 p.m.

State of emergency—Menominee Tribe

KESHENA — The Menominee Tribe Thursday declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus and implemented a number of precautionary measures to address the health crisis, including travel restrictions for tribal employees.

“We are really trying to be prepared,” Tribal Chairwoman Joan Delabreau said. “We don’t want people to be in panic mode. We are hoping we have achieved that success.”

Currently there are no known coronavirus cases on the reservation, but some of the travel restrictions affect tribal employees who reside in counties where there are confirmed cases.

As of Thursday, those included Fond du Lac, Waukesha, Dane and Pierce counties.

The tribe has also set up an incident command center at the tribal offices in Keshena.

Emergency Management Coordinator Ben Warrington called this “an evolving situation.”

He said there will be daily briefings from the tribe and meetings are ongoing with Menominee County, the school district and the casino.

Warrington laid out a series of emergency steps being taken, most of which will be in effect for 45 days. Those measures will be reviewed at the end of that 45-day period to determine whether they should be extended.

Read the full story at http://www.newmedia-wi.com/content/menominee-tribe-declares-state-emergency

CMN monitoring coronavirus situation

KESHENA — The College of Menominee Nation is continuing to monitor and update plans in response to the current spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus), CMN said in a statement on its website Thursday.

“Our primary concern is the health and safety of our campus community and campus visitors,” the statement said. “Because of the rapidly evolving nature of this situation CMN Administration has prepared a short update on current actions, decisions, and strategies. We will continue to monitor and provide further updates in the days ahead. Watch your e-mails and the CMN website and Facebook page for up to date reports. If you have questions please check with your Dean or Director for further guidance.&rdqu

CMN posted the following administrative decisions:

  • Campus Support has implemented an increased cleaning schedule for all high traffic areas on campus.
  • CMN administration is updating the Pandemic Leave Policy should the need arise.
  • All international and inter-state travel sponsored or coordinated through CMN is cancelled effective March 11, 2020.
  • All staff who regularly travel for day trips should continue to do so. However, check in with your Dean or Director for further guidance.

CMN is monitoring the situation in connection to larger events that it may host in the near future. As we receive more information we will provide updates. In the meantime, if you have any event planned on campus check in with your Dean or Director for further guidance.

CMN also advised that anyone who is sick should stay at home.

We anticipate face-to-face classroom sessions will continue to be offered,” CMN said. “However, we will continue to monitor and update this strategy as issues might change.”

Administration is working with faculty on preparing online or blended options for classroom offerings should the need arise.

All staff will continue to report according to their regular work schedule.

“We are looking at options for working remotely should the need arise,” the CMN statement said. “Check in with your Dean or Director for further guidance.”

State, CDC links

UPDATE March 22 5:22 p.m.

More PSC consumer protections ordered

Gov. Tony Evers issued Emergency Order 11 on Sunday, suspending several utility-related administrative rules, paving the way for the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) to temporarily order further consumer protections amid the COVID-19 public health emergency.

“It is critically important to give people flexibility during this emergency, when paychecks might be disrupted, to keep the lights and heat on and water flowing,” Evers said. “We’re making sure that folks don’t have to make the critical choice between keeping their utilities on and paying for other essentials.”

Immediately following the governor’s emergency order, PSC Chairwoman Rebecca Cameron Valcq directed regulated utilities in the state to take the following actions for the duration of the emergency:

• Stop utility disconnection for nonpayment for all customers, including commercial, industrial, and farm accounts. Previously this applied to residential accounts only.

• Cease assessing late fees to customer accounts.

• Halt the practice of requiring deposits from customers for reconnection of service.

• Allow deferred payment agreements for all customers who request them.

• Remove any administrative barriers for customers establishing or reestablishing utility service.

• Authorize water utilities to provide budget billing arrangements to customers. Electric and natural gas utilities are allowed to do this under current rules.

Previously, the PSC directed utilities to cease disconnecting residential service for nonpayment until the state public health emergency had been lifted. Additionally, utilities were required to make reasonable attempts to reconnect service to an occupied dwelling that had been disconnected.

Evers suspends DPI administrative rules

Gov. Tony Evers directed the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to suspend administrative rules relating to hours of instruction, student teacher assessments, and general flexibility during the COVID-19 public health emergency on Sunday.

“As we continue to face challenges surrounding COVID-19 in Wisconsin, it’s critically important that school district administrators, educators, students, and parents have the peace of mind knowing we’re working to address concerns about hours of instruction, making sure our student teachers will graduate on time, and ensuring the department has flexibility as we move forward to do what’s best for our kids, educators, and schools across our state,” Evers said.

Evers’ order relating to the DPI will ensure the DPI will be able to streamline the waiver process for hours of instruction for public schools; suspend the requirements to allow students in teacher preparation programs to graduate on time this spring; and provide the DPI with flexibility in light of upcoming due dates.

Number of Positive Results by County Per DHS

Wisconsin County Total Cases as of 3/27/2020

Bayfield 2
Brown 5
Calumet 1
Chippewa 3
Clark 2
Columbia 6
Dane 133
Dodge 6
Douglas 5
Dunn 2
Eau Claire 7
Fond du Lac 18
Grant 1
Green 3
Iowa 3
Iron 1
Jefferson 6
Juneau 2
Kenosha 23
La Crosse 14
Marathon 1
Marinette 1
Milwaukee 411
Monroe 1
Outagamie 4
Ozaukee 30
Pierce 4
Portage 1
Racine 9
Richland 2
Rock 12
Sauk 8
Sheboygan 7
St. Croix 4
Vilas 2
Walworth 5
Washington 27
Waukesha 61
Waupaca 1
Winnebago 6
Wood 2

Total cases 842

Total deaths 13

UPDATE March 19 5 p.m.

DATCP provides resources to farmers, ag businesses

MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is providing resources for the state’s consumers, farmers, and agricultural businesses as they navigate the challenges presented by COVID-19. These resources can be found at https://www.datcp.wi.gov/ and include helpful information such as information on Executive Order #72 and Emergency Order #5 regarding gatherings of 10 people or more, which makes important exemptions for manufacturing, processing, distribution, and production facilities.

It also provides links to state and federal agency tips and information (also available at gov/COVID19.)

There is a toolkit for farmers and agricultural organizations to assist in planning ahead.

Farmers and also find frequently askded questions on price gouging, animal and livestock health, food supply and delivery, and crops and agribusinesses

“We understand this is a confusing and stressful time, especially for those in agriculture,” said DATCP Interim Secretary Randy Romanski. “We aim to serve as a resource for farmers, consumers, and agribusinesses in need of assistance as they plan their response to COVID-19.”

In addition to continually updating the DATCP website as information on COVID-19 evolves, the agency is conducting weekly calls with industry stakeholders to provide updates, share information, and access resources. Agricultural stakeholders should work through their agricultural associations to compile questions and concerns. These organizations will then share those items with DATCP on their designated weekly call.

UPDATE March 17

MADISON - Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday directed Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to issue an agency order prohibiting mass gatherings of 10 people or more to slow the spread of COVID-19.

The order makes exceptions for transportation, educational institutions, child care, hotels, military, law enforcement, food pantries, hospitals, long-term care facilities, restaurants and bars can only offer take-out or delivery, grocery stores and convenience stores, utility facilities, job centers, and courts. Additionally, schools will be closed for the duration of the public health emergency.

“Our top priority at this time is to keep Wisconsinites safe and healthy by reducing the spread of COVID-19, especially for those who are considered high-risk. With limited tests available nationwide and continued community spread, we have to take every precaution to protect ourselves, our families, and our neighbors,” Evers said in a press release.

“I know what this means for our small business owners and the struggles they and their workers will face in the coming weeks, but we are committed to working with our federal partners, state officials and stakeholders to ensure we are doing everything we can to assist during these uncertain times.”

The order supersedes Evers' announcement on Monday on banning gatherings in the state of any more than 50 people.

UPDATE March 17 11:55 a.m.

State Patrol delivering test kits, samples

Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary-designee Craig Thompson has ordered the Wisconsin State Patrol to assist with the growing need to deliver COVID-19 test kits and samples to designated labs.

Through coordination with the State Emergency Operations Center (SEOC), State Patrol on March 14 transported a patient sample from a nursing home facility to the hygiene lab in Madison.

“State Patrol officers across the state stand ready to assist in any way necessary with the evolving public health emergency,” Thompson said. “In addition to their daily tasks of ensuring safety on Wisconsin’s highways, our troopers facilitate the transport of COVID-19 samples and test kits when requested by the SEOC.”

Courier services associated with hospitals and the state hygiene lab are the first point of contact to transport test kits and samples to their destinations. However, the State Patrol is preparing for the possibility that these “first tier” couriers could become overwhelmed. If a testing facility cannot transport a kit or sample, the request is forwarded to the State Patrol representative at the SEOC.

UPDATE March 14 3:20 p.m.

The state election commission is encouraging voters to take advantage of early voting in response to COVID-19 health concerns.

“The Wisconsin Elections Commission strongly urges anyone who is concerned about Coronavirus COVID-19 exposure to make plans now to vote absentee for the April 7 Spring Election and Presidential Preference Primary,” the commission stated in a news release.

“If you are worried about getting to the polls on Election Day, make sure you are registered to vote at your current address and with your current name and request an absentee ballot as soon as possible,” said Meagan Wolfe, Wisconsin’s chief elections official.

Acting by Wednesday, March 18, is especially important for anyone who needs to register to vote, Wolfe said. “We want everyone who is eligible and who wants to vote to be able to do so safely,” she said. If your name or address has changed since you need to register with your current information. You can check your registration status at myvote.wi.gov, click on “My Voter Info.”

State public health emergency

Gov. Tony Evers on March 13 declared a public health emergency to help with containing COVID-19 in Wisconsin. People are encouraged to carefully consider travel plans and to avoid areas of the United States and around the world that have community spread of the disease.

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention