Saturday Headlines: Election Commission Gridlock, COVID-19 Toll Hits 137

Saturday Headlines: Election Commission Gridlock, COVID-19 Toll Hits 137


By Pat Kreitlow

April 11, 2020

Hospitals seeking supplies. Mayo trims employees. Courts resume with TV links.

The following is a digest of headlines from UpNorthNews, Wisconsin media, The Associated Press and other sources:

The state Department of Health Services reported Saturday afternoon that 137 deaths in Wisconsin have been caused by the coronavirus, marking 9 losses since Friday. The number of positive COVID-19 cases is now 3,213, reflecting an additional 145 people infected by the virus. Of those positive cases, 950 people have required hospitalization, 46 more people than reported Friday. 

PPE Shortages – Over half of Wisconsin’s hospitals are facing shortages of personal protective equipment, according to the Wisconsin Hospitals Association. Seventy-three of the state’s 133 hospitals have fewer than seven days’ worth of goggles, 67 face the same shortage of goggles, and 62 are short on face shields. While N95 masks are in better supply, 49 hospitals still have fewer than a weeks’ worth.

Courts TV – Wisconsin courts, which have been shut down amid the coronavirus outbreak, are resuming operations with livestreaming and teleconferencing via Zoom, the state announced Friday. Each of the state’s 249 circuit court branches have been given an account.

Postmark Problems – (AP) — Wisconsin election officials told local clerks Friday to abide by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that absentee ballots postmarked no later than election day will count as they prepare to tally results from the state’s spring election. The commission convened an emergency meeting Friday afternoon to decide how clerks should handle postmarks and other symbols on envelopes that lack dates. The three Democrats on the commission pushed to relax the postmark requirements, noting state law doesn’t mandate postmarks on absentee ballots. But Republicans on the commission wouldn’t budge.

Petition Problems – Wisconsin candidates for political office can begin collecting signatures on Wednesday, but doing so will be more challenging than in past years, thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Rather than gathering signatures by knocking on homeowners’ doors or attending gatherings, the Wisconsin Elections Commission said Friday it will allow candidates’ supporters to download forms from the internet, sign them and mail them to the campaigns. The commission decided against allowing the use of electronic signatures. Signatures are due by June 1. 

Vote by Mail Bill – Assembly Democrats have put forward a bill to hold the remainder of the 2020 elections by mail only. In a statement to the Racine Journal Times, state Rep. Greta Neubauer, D-Racine, said “it is critically important that we act to prevent another election like the one we saw on Tuesday.”

Viral Voting – The DHS will track coronavirus transmission from Tuesday’s election that Republicans forced, DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm said, according to WPR. The tracing will help health officials quantify how much the virus spread as a result of holding “what were essentially mass gatherings at polling places around the state,” Palm said.

Food Aid – DHS announced Friday that it will give additional money to more than 215,000 households that receive FoodShare benefits.

Mayo Cuts – Mayo Clinic on Friday was the latest employer to announce employee pay cuts and furloughs, which will go into effect on April 29, the La Crosse Tribune reports. One-third of the region’s 70,000 employees will be affected, but Mayo did not say what departments will receive cuts.

Brats on Hold – For the first time in 40 years, German Fest will not take place at the Summerfest grounds in Milwaukee, OnMilwaukee reports. The festival was scheduled for July 24-26. Festival President Eric Radue said it will return in 2021.

Teen Trouble – The Fond du Lac police chief warned residents that police will issue citations for violations of the stay-at-home order, according to the Fond du Lac Reporter. The city, which reportedly has an issue with teens defying the order, established municipal citations that carry fines of up to $313; the state penalty is a misdemeanor as opposed to a forfeiture.

Making Masks – Sew Together for COVID-19, an effort led by a Stevens Point woman and her two teenage daughters to create masks for health care workers, announced it has donated almost 3,500 masks to date, the Stevens Point City Times reports.

Donated Masks – Home Depot donated masks to the Janesville Fire Department, the department said in a thank-you note posted to Facebook.

Star Help – Milwaukee Bucks star and NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is partnering with audio equipment manufacturer JBL to donate headphones to Milwaukee Public Schools students to help them with virtual learning, WITI-TV reports. Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun, two of the Brewers’ biggest stars, also announced an initiative to feed health care workers, starting with an event to give away 1,000 meals at Froedtert Hospital this weekend, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
You Can Help Too – The state Department of Health Services has established the Wisconsin Emergency Assistance Volunteer Registry, or WEAVR, to connect volunteers to health care systems in need of more workers due to the pandemic, Gov. Tony Evers announced Friday.


  • Pat Kreitlow

    The Founding Editor of UpNorthNews, Pat was a familiar presence on radio and TV stations in western Wisconsin before serving in the state Legislature. After a brief stint living in the Caribbean, Pat and wife returned to Chippewa Falls to be closer to their growing group of grandchildren. He now serves as UNN's chief political correspondent and host of UpNorthNews Radio, airing weekday mornings 6 a.m.-8 a.m on the Civic Media radio network and the UpNorthNews Facebook page.

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