COVID-19 UPDATES FOR COUNTY OFFICIALS

As issues continue to develop and change at a quick rate with COVID-19, the Coronavirus, we at the Wisconsin Counties Association (WCA) are working alongside Governor Tony Evers, the Administration, the National Association of Counties (NACo) and our general counsel, von Briesen & Roper, s.c., (von Briesen) to provide the latest resources and updates to assist county officials during this unprecedented time.

COVID-19 Daily Update: 4.15.2020

April 15, 2020

COVID-19 DAILY HEALTH UPDATE
(Information from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) current as of 1:00 p.m. Central, Wednesday, April 15, 2020)

Total people with negative results: 39,326 (+1,329)
Total people with positive results: 3,721 (+166)
Hospitalizations: 1,091 (+42) or 29%
Total deaths: 182 (+12)

STATE SENATE TODAY APPROVES AB 1038; GOVERNOR SIGNS INTO LAW 
Today the Wisconsin State Senate approved Assembly Bill 1038: “State Government Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic.” The bill passed the State Assembly yesterday. Both houses approved the legislation with bipartisan support.
Following the vote, Governor Evers signed the bill into law, making it Act 185
Per an update yesterday by WCA, AB 1038 made a number of changes to state law including changes to unemployment insurance, licensure requirements, employment regulations, and more.
Items of particular interest to counties include, but are not limited to:

  • Easing of current law restrictions relating to the re-hiring of WRS retirees
  • Providing immunity protections for counties and county staff
  • Allowing counties (by resolution) to approve waiving interest and penalties on late property tax payments if paid prior to October 1, 2020
  • Allowing temporary credentials for former health care providers and for health care providers from other states
  • Changes to worker’s compensation insurance

WCA SENDS LETTER TO FEDERAL DELEGATION URGING SUPPORT OF COUNTIES IN LATEST COVID-19 PACKAGE
This week the Wisconsin Counties Association sent a letter to our federal delegation, asking for consideration of certain components of the COVID-19 package before Congress.

With debate surrounding a package that will assist local units of government, WCA urged them to consider the important role of counties in public health and human services. In the letter, WCA urged the legislators to strongly consider:

  • Modifying previous passed language permitting counties with a population of 500,000 or more to receive a direct allocation from Treasury;
  • Not using the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) formula to distribute funds to local governments. The CDBG formula does not adequately address the needs of counties or recognize the service delivery mechanisms used to serve Wisconsin citizens;
  • Dividing the funds being allocated to local units of government and creating a separate allocation for counties only; Allocating funds to address the ill effects of the pandemic is important. Even more important is ensuring that the funds are delivered to those areas of local government which are most in need and on the front lines of fighting the pandemic.

DHS: SAFER AT HOME IS WORKING
People across the state of Wisconsin have risen to the challenge of COVID-19 by changing the way they work, play, and interact with friends and family. By staying Safer at Home, practicing physical distancing, and continuing to wash hands and cover coughs, Wisconsinites are making a difference and beginning to flatten the curve. 

According to the model created by DHS, Wisconsin was projected to have 22,000 infections by April 8, which would have ultimately resulted in somewhere between 440 and 1,500 deaths. These numbers were based on projected significant exponential growth in positive cases; however, since the Safer at Home order, there has been a decrease in exponential growth in the number of cases. Wisconsin’s rate of doubling of infections was 3.4 days in early March and, over the past two weeks, the rate of doubling is now approximately 12 days.

JOHNS HOPKINS CORONAVIRUS RESOURCE CENTER MAP OF COVID-19 CASES
This interactive resource from John Hopkins allows users to search the U.S. county by county to explore cases, population, hospital rooms and other information.

ICYMI: STATE AND COUNTY OFFICIALS REINFORCING THAT ROADWAYS REMAIN OPEN
To help dispel rumors, officials with the Wisconsin Counties Association (WCA) and Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) want to clarify that state roadways and borders remain open to in-state and out-of-state travelers.
Under Governor Tony Evers’ Safer at Home order, motorists are asked to avoid “non-essential” travel throughout the public emergency period. State Patrol and county sheriff’s departments continue to enforce traffic laws as usual but are not pulling over vehicles with out-of-state plates or other motorists just to ask about the purpose of their trip.