Wisconsinites with disabilities see hope as state eyes reversal on unemployment claim denials— 6/17/20

A roundup of top news and information about Wisconsin’s response to the coronavirus

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Wisconsin has denied federal pandemic aid to workers on federal disability who lost their jobs. But Caleb Frostman, Wisconsin’s secretary of Workforce Development, is now asking the federal government to allow the state to reverse that practice, reports Bram Sable-Smith, a WPR fellow embedded in the Wisconsin Watch newsroom. 

The backstory for the state’s denials is complicated, and it involves a 2013 state law that bars Wisconsin from issuing unemployment compensation to laid-off workers who also qualify for federal disability benefits. But Frostman’s push to open up federal pandemic aid to these recipients could potentially affect thousands of workers with disabilities as the economy struggles to rebound during the pandemic.

Top Stories

Steve Apps / Wisconsin State Journal

Wisconsin National Guard members collect samples for COVID-19 testing last month at the Alliant Energy Center. The community testing site at the center offers nasal swab testing for active COVID-19 infection, which is different from the antibody testing available at Madison-area health care providers.

Reversing course: Wisconsin seeks federal OK to aid the unemployed with disabilitiesWisconsin Watch/WPR 

2.4% positive for COVID-19 antibodies in Madison area as broader testing beginsWisconsin State Journal 

Mental health experts see rise in cases as pandemic, protests create anxietyMilwaukee Neighborhood News Service 

‘All of a sudden I couldn’t work’: For a 24-year-old former foster youth affected by coronavirus, there’s no safety netMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

A federal agency boss praised Trump for COVID response in long-term care. This Kaukauna nursing home CEO says he shouldn’t get the credit.Appleton Post Crescent 

Cancer patients weigh risk of delaying treatment against risks of COVID-19 exposureWPR

Wisconsin nonprofits face financial dire straits as they continue to cope with coronavirusGreen Bay Press Gazette

Claim about ‘idle’ state workers amid COVID-19 lacks contextPolitiFact Wisconsin

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Government updates

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Gov. Tony Evers’ office

U.S. Centers and Disease Control and Prevention

World Health Organization


“The idea that anyone besides (employees) would be credited for saving lives in long-term care at this point — it doesn’t sit well with me …The bottom line is we started activating our emergency plans as (the president) was downplaying it.”

Sondra Norder, president and CEO of Kaukauna-based St. Paul Elder Services, responding in the Appleton Post Crescent to CMS administrator Seema Verma’s opinion that credited President Donald Trump’s “early action” on coronavirus in nursing homes for saving “countless” lives.

Data to note

The Washington Post reports on findings gleaned from U.S. Centers for Disease Control data released Monday. The data offered details on 1.7 million coronavirus cases and 103,700 deaths related to the virus. 

“People with underlying medical conditions such as heart disease and diabetes were hospitalized six times as often as otherwise healthy individuals infected with the novel coronavirus during the first four months of the pandemic, and they died 12 times as often,” the newspaper reported. 

Resilient Wisconsin

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90-year-old Milwaukee woman grateful for community center during COVID-19WTMJ-TV 

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