Weekend recap: Officials and health system respond as COVID-19 cases rise in Wisconsin

This week, the ongoing pandemic seemed to take another grim turn, as hospitals in Wisconsin had more patients with COVID-19 than at any other time during the pandemic.

Given the unprecedented demand for health services, public authorities have taken additional measures this week. Gov. Tony Evers has called in the Wisconsin National Guard to help hospitals and nursing homes ease the mounting pressure.

Wisconsin Public Radio reported that approximately 50 Guard members have been deployed to six Wisconsin nursing homes to care for residents and patients awaiting discharge from hospitals to long-term care facilities. . Additional members of the Guard will be trained as certified nursing assistants, which will allow care homes to open 200 beds by the end of February.

The Associated Press reported that another 80 soldiers who began training this week will deploy in late January and a group of 80 will begin training in early February and deploy by the end of this month.

Evers’ administration said as of Wednesday, it had helped recruit 626 nurses and other healthcare workers to support 76 healthcare facilities in the state.

The shortage of personnel has accumulated as the omicron variant has spread through the population. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported that about 600 patients at “Wisconsin hospitals that belonged to nursing homes or assisted living facilities could not be discharged because there were not enough staff in the long-term care centers to care for them despite the fact that there were plenty of beds.”

In the western part of the state, public and health care officials wondered when they would seek to peak the number of cases.

Wisconsin DHS: Weekly COVID-19 Recap

The seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin is 10,985 on Friday. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services confirmed 10,486 total number of deaths from the disease.

Nearly 59% of Wisconsin residents are fully vaccinated – 82% of people aged 65 and over, 53.5% of children aged 12-17 and 17.6% of children aged 5-11.

Packers push back on proposal to dismantle Lambeau Field Stadium District

The Green Bay Packers are resisting a proposal by a state legislator to eliminate the Green Bay/Brown County Professional Football Stadium District and its board of directors that oversees Lambeau Field, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette. .

State Rep. David Steffen, R-Howard, pitched the idea to the City of Green Bay Finance Committee. Steffen’s plan would dismantle the district and its seven-member council. The board co-owns Lambeau Field with the Packers and the city. The legislation “would transfer the assets and liabilities of the district to the City of Green Bay, except for $81 million set aside for the operation and maintenance of the stadium through at least 2031.

The district was created before the Lambeau Field renovations in 2003, and Steffen said he believed it had served all of its functions and should be concluded. He also offered to redistribute the $81 million maintenance fund, which was largely made up of a half-cent sales tax that ended seven years ago. He said he would donate money to Brown County homeowners and additional funds to Brown County, Green Bay, Ashwaubenon, the Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Green Community Foundation. Bay, the newspaper reported.

However, Packers officials said the plan “would break the lease between the Packers, the city and the council.”

“Rep. Steffen’s legislation would instead position them as adversaries, as they would be forced to determine who would be responsible for filling the operations and maintenance funding gap. The proposed legislation is reckless public policy for that reason alone,” said Aaron Popkey. , director of public affairs for Packers. “This would constitute a breach of trust and an unlawful gutting of the Lambeau Field lease. It would leave no choice but immediate major litigation to prevent it from taking effect.”

Steffen told the committee “there is no chance the proposal will become law this year,” but he plans to reintroduce the measure next January.

Broadband access plays a huge role in home sales

No matter where you live, broadband is a big priority for people. It’s about working from home or going to school online. And people want to stay in touch with family and friends who don’t live nearby through video chat on Zoom or FaceTime.

As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, a broadband connection can add 10% or more to the price of a home. Additionally, many buyers will not consider a property without high-speed internet.

“We actually did surveys to find out how important this was. We were somewhat surprised by the results, particularly from potential buyers and tenants who said broadband was their number one priority. one to decide where they were going to live,” Tom Larson, a senior vice president with the Wisconsin Realtors Association, told the Journal Sentinel.

But there are Wisconsin residents who have a really hard time getting broadband, which many of us take for granted.

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As the Journal Sentinel reported:

A significant portion of rural Wisconsin — if it has Internet access — lacks broadband speeds of at least 25 megabits per second download and 3 Mbps upload. For them, ordinary tasks such as posting a video on a website are next to impossible.

“It’s still a huge problem in my area,” State Rep. Tony Kurtz, a Republican from Wonewoc in Juneau County, told the newspaper. “If you talk to real estate agents, they’ll tell you that home values ​​are tied to internet speed.”

Like many states, Wisconsin does not require broadband service to be disclosed in real estate purchase agreements. Some buyers have been stung after buying a home only to find they don’t have reliable internet access, like psychologist Ariahn Matamonasa, who works from her home office on a 12-acre property in the city of Paris, near Kenosha.

The state has received hundreds of millions of dollars for broadband expansion projects and more funding is on the way. In addition, large Internet service providers are reacting to competition from small companies expanding into their territories, reports the Journal Sentinel.

“Certainly in 2023 and 2024, I think we’ll see hundreds of thousands more people benefiting from a new and better internet,” Broadband Office Director Alyssa Kenney told the Journal Sentinel.

All Dane County Jail inmates will be tested for COVID-19

The Wisconsin National Guard was called in to help test nearly 600 inmates at Dane County Jail for COVID-19 on Monday.

Sheriff Kalvin Barrett said there was a record number of coronavirus cases at the jail where nearly 90 inmates of the 594 incarcerated tested positive, according to The Associated Press.

Barrett said the prison population typically declines in the winter, but not this year, when abnormally high numbers of inmates put additional pressure on the facility. The sheriff says they’re running out of space.

The National Guard had previously tested the prison population at the start of the pandemic.

Milwaukee city officials launch educational campaign to guard against electrical fires

Milwaukee officials this week announced several steps they are taking to educate the public about the dangers of electrical fires. Details of the plans emerged during the city’s zoning and neighborhood development committee hearing on Tuesday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The city’s Neighborhood Services Department and the Milwaukee Fire Department will host “in-person and recorded information sessions on electrical systems, detailing things tenants can look for when looking for or renting an apartment.” . The campaign begins later this month.

The newspaper attributed the educational effort to an investigation last summer that “found that suspected electrical fires are ravaging single and two-family rental properties at five times the rate of the rest of the city.” He also reported that the fires disproportionately affected black tenants. He also said government assistance – at all levels – does not help in these situations, allowing some landlords to continue renting properties that have security issues.

A member of acting mayor Cavalier Johnson’s staff told the hearing that the major was focused on raising public awareness.

“We wanted to bring these departments together to help get out into our neighborhoods to educate tenants about their electrical hazard rights, what to look out for, and how they could be the safest,” said Kailyn Kenney, political chief of staff to the mayor.

The man who bought a gun from Kyle Rittenhouse does not dispute

The man who bought an AR-15-style rifle for Kyle Rittenhouse did not contest a reduced charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor in a deal with prosecutors to avoid jail time.

A Wisconsin judge accepted Dominick Black’s plea on Monday. Prosecutors dropped two counts of intent to deliver a dangerous weapon to a minor. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor is a non-criminal offence.

Black was 18 when he bought the gun in May 2020. Rittenhouse was 17 and too young to buy a gun. Three months later, Rittenhouse used the rifle to shoot three people at a protest in Kenosha. He killed two of them – Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. A jury acquitted Rittenhouse on multiple counts in November.

The protests were in response to the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man shot dead by Kenosha police on August 23, 2020, two days before Rittenhouse arrived in Kenosha.

Schools in New Mexico are the target of ransomware attacks

The Albuquerque Public Schools Superintendent announced earlier this week that the district was the target of a cyberattack, which resulted in the cancellation of classes for approximately 75,000 students.

Five school districts in the state have suffered major cyberattacks in the past two years, including one district that is still grappling with a cyberattack that hit just after Christmas, NPR reported.

In his memo, the superintendent wrote that the district’s technology department had repelled the attacks “for some weeks.”

Editor’s note: The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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