MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Latest on the coronavirus outbreak in Wisconsin (all times local):
Two Wisconsin residents have died from the coronavirus pandemic, the first to be reported in the state.
Gov. Tony Evers announced Thursday that a man in his 50s from Fond du Lac County and a man in his 90s from Ozaukee County had died. No other details about their circumstances was reported.
“Our hearts go out to all the loved ones affected by these deaths, and to all those suffering from this virus,” Evers said in a statement. “We are committed to fighting the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin and I want to recognize the hard work and bravery of our nurses, doctors, state health officials, and all those on the front lines in the effort to save lives. Together we will get through this historic health challenge.”
The state Department of Health Services reported earlier Thursday that 155 had the virus in 21 counties.
The University of Wisconsin System will refund prorated housing and dining charges for the rest of the spring semester for students who have had to leave their universities during the coronavirus pandemic.
UW System President Ray Cross said Thursday the decision is in response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the transition to classes being delivered through alternative methods.
Cross calls the reimbursement “the right thing to do.” University chancellors were consulted and agreed with the decision.
Prorated reimbursements will exclude the period of the originally scheduled spring break and will be issued at the close of the spring semester. Students will not be able to credit those funds toward future semesters because of rules about awarding federal financial aid.
Unemployment claims by workers displaced due to the coronavirus pandemic have skyrocketed this week.
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman said Thursday that preliminary numbers show there were 1,500 claims on Sunday, 4,300 on Monday, 8,500 on Tuesday and 15,000 on Wednesday.
Gov. Tony Evers ordered all bars and restaurants closed on Tuesday.
Last week, Forstman said claims averaged about 700 a day.
Similar spikes have been seen in states across the country as businesses shut down and people are forced out of work due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Evers has waived some requirements to speed the awarding of benefits and called on the Republican-controlled Legislature to do away with a one-week waiting period to qualify.
A doctor at the Waupun Correctional Institute has tested positive for COVID-19, the first confirmed case of the virus inside a Wisconsin prison.
Waupun Correctional Institution Warden Brian Foster sent an email Wednesday night informing employees that a worker had contracted the virus. The email was first obtained by WisPolitics.com. The Department of Corrections did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the worker affected was a doctor who had recently traveled out of the country and that 18 inmates were quarantined and 11 prison medical workers were sent home.
“Be assured we as an institution and a department are taking this situation very seriously,” Foster said in the email. “As everyone knows we are making many changes within the institution and we have implemented a significant cleaning process throughout the institution.”
The Department of Corrections on Friday suspended all in-person visits, except from attorneys and other professionals, but advocates for inmates have urged for more to be done to protect those incarcerated at more than 30 prisons around the state.
The maximum security prison in Waupun has more than 1,200 prisoners and is about 40% above capacity.
The coronavirus outbreak has spread to 21 counties in Wisconsin and 155 people based on the latest figures from the state Department of Health Services.
The latest figures released Thursday were up from 106 in 14 counties on Wednesday.
Health officials say there is now community spread of COVID-19 in Brown County. There had been community spread identified previously only in Milwaukee, Dane and Kenosha counties.
No deaths have been reported in Wisconsin. The state health department did not release details about how many of those who tested positive are being treated in hospitals or are recovering at home.
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover.
The Wisconsin Democratic Party has canceled all of its congressional district conventions and scaled back the planned statewide convention in June due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The party’s administrative committee voted on Wednesday to cancel the meetings and reduce the state convention from two to one day, June 12. It also voted to authorize party chairman Ben Wikler to decide no later than May 1 whether to continue with the in-person meeting at the Wilderness Resort in Wisconsin Dells or do it virtually.
The Wilderness is closed until at least April 2, according to its website.
The business of the convention will also be limited to include only speeches, reports and election of Democratic National Committee members. That means the convention will have fewer speakers, no caucus meetings, no debates or votes on changes to its platform, constitution or adoption of resolutions.
The Wisconsin Republican Party scheduled its state convention for the weekend of May 15 in Green Bay. The party did not immediately respond to questions about any possible changes to that gathering.
The Democratic National Convention is slated for mid-July in Milwaukee. Party leaders have not announced any changes to that gathering.
Local clerks have sent out more absentee ballots for the April 7 election so far than they did in each of the last four spring elections.
The Wisconsin Elections Commission says that as of Thursday morning clerks have issued 277,824 absentee ballots. Clerks issued 249,503 ballots in 2016; 103,533 ballots in 2017; and 130,041 ballots in 2018. They issued 170,121 ballots last year.
The April 7 election features the presidential primary, a race for state Supreme Court, a referendum on a constitutional amendment guaranteeing crime victims’ rights and a host of local contests.
A number of states have postponed their presidential primaries amid the coronavirus crisis but Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has refused to postpone Wisconsin’s election and is urging people to vote absentee.
Voters can request absentee ballots until April 2.
MILWAUKEE — Harley-Davidson has temporarily suspended production at its three U.S. manufacturing plants after an employee at its suburban Milwaukee facility tested positive for the new coronavirus.
Harley-Davidson suspended production at its Wisconsin plants in Menomonee Falls and Tomahawk and at its facility in York, Pennsylvania.
The company said the majority of its U.S. production employees will be on temporary layoff with medical benefits. Harley planned to use the downtime to do some cleaning and disinfecting in its production and common areas.
Harley has about 2,000 union-represented employees at its three U.S. manufacturing plants.