Death toll rises to 19, based on local reports

The number of Wisconsin cases of COVID-19, the respiratory ailment caused by the coronavirus, surpassed 1,000 over the weekend.

UPDATE: As of 9 a.m. Monday, an examination of the statistics collected by the state Department of Health Services, Milwaukee County and Dane County health offices and Wisconsin media reports indicates at least 1,189 positive COVID-19 cases and 19 deaths. A new DHS update is due at approximately 1:30 p.m. Monday.

Milwaukee County reported 496 positive cases and nine deaths as of Saturday afternoon. Dane County reported 164 cases and one death. Added to the numbers provided Saturday by the state Department of Health Services, which are collected from other counties as of 9 p.m. the previous night, the state has now recorded 1,002 cases and 17 deaths.

The most recent fatality report came Saturday from the Waupaca County Health Department. No details were offered except to say the person also represented the county’s first confirmed COVID-19 case.

Here is a summary of other news related to the coronavirus outbreak as reported by UpNorthNews journalists and Wisconsin media outlets.

Election Lawsuit Tossed – A federal judge on Friday rejected an effort by the City of Green Bay to delay the upcoming April 7 election across Wisconsin and make it an all-mailed ballot election. Judge William Griesbach wrote in his decision that the city and Mayor Eric Genrich did not have proper legal standing to bring a case against the state in federal court. Further, Griesbach wrote, “the allegations are too speculative to state an equal protection claim under the 14th Amendment” since there is no evidence that an absentee ballot could not be secured and mailed by voters wary of visiting the polls during the public health emergency. 

In a nod to those concerns, Griesbach said the dismissal “is not intended to minimize the serious difficulties the city and its officials are facing in attempting to conduct the upcoming election.”

Free buses – Milwaukee County is suspending bus fares for the Transit System beginning Saturday, WTMJ reports.

Educational TV – Wisconsin PBS stations will begin broadcasting educational shows during daytime hours to help bolster at-home learning efforts during the pandemic, WDJT reports.

Daycare Closures – One-quarter of the state’s child care centers have voluntarily closed during the pandemic, WPR reports. The closures exacerbate problems in Wisconsin, where almost 40 percent of the state’s ZIP codes are considered child care deserts for lack of quality care facilities.

Homeless Shelter Changes – Eau Claire officials have set up the Hobbs Ice Arena as an emergency shelter for the city’s homeless. Current shelters have had to reduce the number of people allowed inside in order to abide by social distance safety standards. The arena is normally the hockey home for the city’s high schools and UW-Eau Claire.

Such makeshift emergency homeless shelters are emerging across the state. In the past week new shelter sites were established in locations including La Crosse, Wausau and Madison. In some less-populated locations, such as Superior, shelters are remaining in their current locations, but additional cleaning is happening to prevent the spread of the virus. 

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Lowell Conference Center is now being used as an isolation center for people with COVID-19 who don’t have their own isolated housing, the Cap Times reports. It began 24/7 operations at 8 a.m. Thursday, and will be staffed for at least the next two weeks following an order from the state.

HALO, Racine’s homeless shelter, is struggling to find a balance between sheltering the city’s homeless and encouraging them to find alternative shelter — such as a friend or relative’s house — during the pandemic to minimize potential spread, the Racine Journal Times reports.

Up North Fatality – Health officials said Iron County’s first confirmed case of coronavirus also happened to be its first death, according to the Wausau Daily Herald. No immediate details were available about the victim.

Help Wanted – The state Department of Workforce Development has launched an in-demand jobs listing webpage that lists openings for companies who need workers during the pandemic.

Homemade Masks – Eau Claire-area hospitals are now accepting homemade mask donations, WQOW reports. People across Wisconsin have been sewing masks to help make up for shortages.

Donated Masks – Stormy Kromer, known for producing distinctive wool winter caps, has announced it is retooling its Ironwood, Mich., production site to produce masks and hospital gowns after receiving requests for those items from hospitals in northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula.

Drive-By Party – An 87-year-old birthday boy from Waunakee may have been isolated for his big day, but that didn’t stop his neighbors from celebrating with him. WKOW reports that the man’s granddaughter organized a “drive-by birthday party.”