COVID-19 in Wisconsin

Hamilton Consulting has created this website to direct clients and colleagues to the latest information on how Gov. Tony Evers, Wisconsin state agencies, and the Legislature are responding to COVID-19. Please keep in mind that as the situation continues to evolve quickly, the Hamilton Consulting team will try to keep this page as updated as possible. If you have any additional questions, please contact a member of the Hamilton Consulting team

 

Current number of cases in Wisconsin (updated by Department of Health Services daily)

Wisconsin hospital admissions and equipment availability (from Wisconsin Hospital Association)

Status of Badger Bounceback reopening criteria  (Department of Health Services)

 

Latest news:

Governor Evers releases COVID-19 response legislation and funding proposal.

Governor Evers also plans to extend the statewide mask mandate through January 2021.

 

Table of Contents

Executive & Emergency Orders
Wisconsin Legislature
Health Care & Insurance
Economic Development & Workforce
Utilities
Tourism
Transportation
Tax 
Consumer Protection
Courts
Corrections
Education
Environment
Federal Legislation & Guidance
State & Federal Resources
Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Resources
News Clips

Executive & Emergency Orders

Legislative Council Table of Emergency Orders

Current Orders

Executive Order #94 Relating to Actions Every Wisconsinite Should Take to Protect their Family, Friends, and Neighbors from COVID-19

Emergency Order #2 Addressing healthcare staffing needs
Status: In effect until federal public health emergency expires

Emergency Order #1 Statewide Mask Requirement
Status: In effect until November 21, 2020, or by subsequent superseding emergency order

Executive Order #90 Declaration of Public Health Emergency

 

 

Wisconsin Legislature

 

Health Care & Insurance

Office of the Commissioner of Insurance

  • OCI encourages heath insurers to remove any barriers to their insureds utilizing telemedicine service and increase access.
  • OCI urges Wisconsinites who have lost their health insurance coverage at any point this year to visit HealthCare.gov to enroll in healthcare coverage that works for them.
  • OCI bulletin on Wisconsin COVID-19 legislation
  • On April 9, OCI issued guidance for workers who lose their employer-provided health care coverage. OCI is encouraging laid off employees to seek coverage through HealthCare.gov during the 60-day special enrollment period after they become unemployed. FAQs for employers.
  • United HealthCare and Anthem are among insurers who have waived all out-of-pocket costs for treatment of COVID-19.
  • OCI issued guidance for medical malpractice insurers, requesting insurers work to remove barriers to issuing timely coverage for telehealth and for providers temporarily authorized to work in Wisconsin.
  • OCI issued guidance on transitional health plans, following guidance issued by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. OCI is allowing insurers to renew transitional health plans as long as the policies come into compliance with the Affordably Care Act by Jan. 1, 2022.
  • OCI issued guidance on business interruption insurance during COVID-19.
  • OCI issued guidance clarifying and encouraging small employers who have reduced employee hours to less than 30 hours per week to voluntarily continue to offer health care coverage to employees. OCI is also encouraging insurers to work with employers to provide the option of continuing dental, vision, and prescription drug benefits when offered as separate policies to employees whose hours have been reduced.
  • OCI is making temporary changes to requirements for online continuing education courses.
  • Another bulletin from OCI:
    • Encourages insurers to offer flexibility to insureds who are incurring economic hardship. Accommodations will not be viewed as violating insurance laws.
    • States that no regulatory filings will be deemed automatically approved after 30 days.
    • Encourages electronic filings.
  • OCI has issued corporate governance guidance to insurers on annual meeting requirements and is offering flexibility on regulatory filing deadlines. March 15 bulletin. Open for public comment until April 14.
  • The state Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) has issued a bulletin requesting health plans to remove barriers to testing and treatment of COVID-19. OCI requested insurers:
    • Review their preparedness for issuing information and timely access to services to insureds, including making information available on their websites.
    • Waive cost-sharing for COVID-19 tests and related visits.
    • Ensure telehealth programs are robust and able to meet increased demand.
    • Ensure adequacy of provider networks to handle increased demand.
    • Expedite prior authorization.
    • Cover immunization for COVID-19 in the event it becomes available.
    • Provide flexibility on prescription drug supply and early refill limitations.
  • Many Wisconsin insurers are waiving members’ coronavirus testing costs, including Alliance of Health Insurers members Anthem and United HealthCare.

Department of Health Services

  • DHS launches “You Stop the Spread” multimedia campaign.
  • After the Supreme Court invalidated Safer at Home, DHS submitted, then later withdrew, a scope statement to begin emergency rulemaking on COVID-19.
  • Under Emergency Order #35, DHS has suspended rules to ensure that Medicaid members maintain eligibility. The rule suspension is consistent with requirements for receiving additional Medicaid funding under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The order also allows nurses to bill Medicaid for overtime; suspends prior authorization for some drugs; suspends number of refills and supply for some prescriptions; allows telehealth within mental health and substance use disorder treatment programs.
  • DHS submitted a federal waiver request to make changes to the Medicaid program in response to COVID-19. The federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has approved the 1135 wavier request.
  • DHS numbers show that Safer at Home is working. Wisconsin’s rate of doubling of infections has increased from an initial 3.4 days to 12 days.
  • Gov. Evers joined several other governors in requesting the federal government open a special enrollment period on the Affordable Care Act exchange.
  • DHS has created a Wisconsin Emergency Assistance Volunteer Registry to recruit volunteer health care providers.
  • DHS has announced increased contact tracing capabilities.
  • DHS has begun a Resilient Wisconsin initiative to help Wisconsinites deal with adversity related to COVID-19 and the economic shutdown.
  • Gov. Evers has issued an emergency order on appropriate COVID-19 information sharing among first responders and health officials.
  • DHS is encouraging patients and providers to use telehealth during the public health emergency.
  • An update to the Joint Finance Committee from DHS projects that Medicaid enrollment and expenditures will increase significantly in the next quarter.
  • DHS guidance on domestic and international travel.
  • ForwardHealth provider news and resources on COVID-19.

 

Economic Development & Workforce

  • WEDC provided a second round of We’re All In Small Business Grants to distribute an additional $50 million to small businesses
  • Department of Workforce Development (DWD) submitted a grant application for Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program and is currently awaiting federal approval.
  • Gov. Evers has announced a $75 million small business grant program funded by federal CARES Act dollars
  • Emergency rule on work search actions, availability for work, and work available for people filing claims with the unemployment insurance program during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation reopening guidelines for businesses
  • Republican legislators have asked the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) to start pre-approving unemployment insurance applications, citing the need to speed up the process of getting benefits to those out of work.
  • Legislative Council issue brief on unemployment insurance during COVID-19
  • DWD has begun emergency rulemaking to require employers to notify laid-off employees of unemployment insurance availability. Currently, employers must post notices about unemployment insurance in the workplace. (Scope Statement 018-20, public hearing April 23)
  • Legislative Council memo on special unemployment benefits for employees affected by the public health emergency.
  • DWD has issued a scope statement to begin rulemaking implementing federal guidance on administering unemployment insurance during the pandemic period. The scope statement also includes modifications to work search requirements ordered by Gov. Evers in emergency order #7. (Scope Statement 013-20)
  • Unemployment insurance work search requirements waived. (Emergency order #7)
  • Unemployment insurance claimants who are otherwise eligible but out of work due to COVID-19 are eligible for benefits. (Emergency order #7)
  • Gov. Evers and DWD are looking to work with the Legislature to repeal the one week wait for unemployment insurance benefits.
  • DWD is encouraging employers to utilize the Work-Share Program and reduce employee hours as an alternative to laying off employees
  • Gov. Evers requested funding from the Small Business Administration (SBA) for Economic Injury Disaster Loans. The program provides up to $2 million in financial assistance to businesses with 500 or fewer employees. SBA approved the loans on March 20.
  • WEDC Small Business 20/20 Program. A $5 million dollar grant program that will allow businesses with 20 or less employees the ability to apply for a $20,000 grant that can be put toward regular expenses like payroll and rent.
  • WEDC task force to help small businesses.
  • Gov. Evers has also directed WEDC to work with other agencies in creating a longer-term economic recovery unit.

Utilities

  • Gov. Tony Evers announced that more than $5 million of funding from the federal CARES Act will be awarded for the expansion of high-speed, broadband internet and administered by PSCW.
  • PSCW extends utility shut-off moratorium until November 1 until the annual winter moratorium for gas and electric customers will go into effect.
  • PSCW further extended the utility shut-off moratorium for only residential customers until October 1.
  • PSCW extended the utility shut-off moratorium for only residential customers until September 1.
  • The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) awarded $1 million in telehealth grants to Wisconsin health centers.
  • PSCW has opened a docket to ensure safe, reliable and affordable access to utility services during the public health emergency (comments due April 10). Under a second docket, PSCW will investigate how to treat utility costs to address COVID-19 for accounting purposes (comments due April 3).
  • PSCW has directed water, electric, and natural gas utilities to suspend disconnections for nonpayment during the public health emergency. Utilities must make reasonable attempts to reconnect services where service has been disconnected.
  • Gov. Evers suspended several utility related rules, giving PSCW flexibility to address the public health emergency. PSCW then directed utilities to:
    • Stop utility disconnection for all customers, including commercial and industrial.
    • Cease assessing late fees.
    • Allow deferred payment agreements for customers who request them.
    • Remove administrative barriers to establishing service.
    • Authorize water utilities to provide budget billing arrangements.

Tourism

  • On Sept. 14, the Gov. Evers and the Department of Tourism announced the Tourism Relief to Accelerate Vitality and Economic Lift (TRAVEL) stimulus grant program. This $8 million effort to provide much-needed support to the tourism industry.
  • Gov. Evers announced $5 million COVID-19 Cultural Organization Grant Program on Sept. 3.

Transportation

  • Beginning May 11, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will offer pilot programs for online driver’s license renewal and probationary licenses without road tests.
  • Emergency Order #24 allows the DOT to issue and waive fees for emergency overweight commodity permits, expanding Emergency Order #14.
  • DOT is issuing COVID-19 Relief Effort Supply Permits for trucks operating on Wisconsin highways to exceed normal weight limits, waiving the fees for transportation of inventory to supply grocery retailers, and waiving truck driver hours. Emergency Order #14 extends these permits to April 11.
  • The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance offered guidance to restaurants regarding insurance coverage for delivery drivers in the extraordinary circumstances of the public health emergency.
  • The Department of Trade, Agriculture & Consumer Protection is allowing gasoline sellers to sell gasoline with high Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) through the month of April. Normally, high RVP gas may not be sold in the summer.

 

Tax

  • Wisconsin Department of Revenue released guidance on audit and collection during COVID-19. Among other measures, the guidance:
    • Reminds taxpayers that if they cannot pay their entire tax bill at once, they can file an installment agreement. Taxpayers that already have an installment agreement, but are unable to meet the obligations under that agreement, may request a temporary suspension in payments.
    • States that DOR generally will not start new field audits on small businesses during the public health emergency.
  • Wisconsin’s Department of Revenue matched the federal government by extending the state tax filing deadline to June 15.

 

Consumer Protection

  • The Department of Trade, Agriculture & Consumer Protection has approved an emergency rule banning late fees for missed rent payments due to COVID-19.
  • DATCP has begun rulemaking on updating Wisconsin’s price gouging enforcement in light of the COVID-19 pubic health emergency.

 

Courts

Wisconsin courts remain operational but with reduced calendaring.

  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court has convened a task force to look at court operations during the pandemic. Task force report
  • Validity of current State Bar membership cards extended until September 30, 2020.
  • Subject to certain exceptions, all proceedings in the courts of this state are to be conducted via remote audio-video technology if practicable. (Supreme Court order, order indefinitely extending suspension of in-person proceedings)
  • Wisconsin Supreme Court March 18, March 30, and April 1 oral arguments cancelled. April oral arguments will be live streamed.
  • State courts administrative offices closed until at least April 3. (March 17 press release)
  • Some appellate filing deadlines extended and other filing procedures amended.  (Supreme Court order, extended order)
  • Nonemergency motions to the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court are discouraged through April 3. (Supreme Court order)
  • Many individual circuit courts have issued emergency orders related to COVID-19. (See COVID-19 tab at https://www.wicourts.gov/.)
  • The Supreme Court has also temporarily increased the number of credits from on-demand programs that lawyers may use to satisfy CLE requirements.
  • Civil and criminal jury trials are suspended until May 22.
  • The Supreme Court has postponed bar admissions ceremonies through May and instituted temporary procedures for admission to the bar.
  • The Supreme Court has established a temporary rule for the remote administration of oaths at depositions via remote audio-visual equipment. (Rule extended until May 22.)
  • The Supreme Court will hold a public hearing on May 1 (with written comments open until April 24) and its interim rule to temporarily suspend statutory deadlines for civil jury trials due to the pandemic.

 

Corrections

  • LRB memo: Prisoners released due to COVID-19
  • The Department of Corrections suspended admissions to all state prisons to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

 

Education

  • Gov. Tony Evers with Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary Emilie Amundson announced $50 million in funding for an additional round of Child Care Counts payments for early care and education.
  • Gov. Evers announced an additional $30 million of federal CARES Act dollars will be directed toward supporting early care and education providers.
  • The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed to take a case between religious schools and the Dane County Public Health Director. In addition, the Court gave the petitioners a temporary injunction, meaning the ban on in-person K-12 classes may not be enforced.
  • On August 28, new original action lawsuit was filed with the Supreme Court, against Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Dane County Public Health Officer Janel Heinrich.
  • On August 26, a lawsuit was filed with the Wisconsin Supreme Court against the Dane County Public Health Officer Heinrich for closing schools to in-person attendance for children grades 3-12.
  • Public Health Madison and Dane County ordered all schools in Dane County to begin the school year with grades 3 through 12 virtually. Emergency Order #9, which contains the virtual school mandate goes into effect Aug. 24.
  • The Department of Health Services (DHS) released Guidelines for the Prevention, Investigation, and Control of Covi-19 Outbreaks in K-12 Schools in Wisconsin.
  • Gov. Evers announced $46.6 million for K-12 schools through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER Fund), established under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
  • The Department of Public Instruction has released guidance (Education Forward) and Reopening School Buildings Risk Assessment Tool for schools on reopening safely.
  • In emergency order #5, Gov. Evers ordered all Wisconsin schools closed.
  • Gov. Evers also directed the Department of Public Instruction to suspend rules related to hours of public instruction, student teacher assessments, and other general flexibility to address COVID-19.

 

Environment

 

Federal Legislation & Guidance

Federal guidelines for states reopening

Coronavirus Relief Act (CARES Act)

  • Direct one-time payments to Americans making up to $99,000 per year
  • $500 billion corporate liquidity fund
  • $377 billion aid for small businesses
  • Boosts maximum unemployment benefits

Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo on state Coronavirus Relief Fund

Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo on CARES Act

Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo on CARES Act rebate

Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo on Coronavirus Relief Fund monies under the federal CARES Act

Families First Coronavirus Response Act

  • 10 days paid leave benefits for workers (capped at companies with 500 or more employees; employers with fewer than 50 employees can apply for a waiver)
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Free testing

FFCRA FAQs from the U.S. Department of Labor

Legislative Fiscal Bureau summary memos – FFCRA, FFCRA modifications

State tax changes from CARES and FFCRA  (Legislative Fiscal Bureau)

IRS Guidance on HSAs

  • IRS Notice 2020-15 says reduced-cost or free COVID-19 testing or treatment won’t prevent individuals from making or receiving health savings account contributions. Individuals covered by high deductible health plans will not lose eligibility to make or receive health savings account contributions if their plan permits pre-deductible COVID-19 testing and treatment without cost sharing. More information. 

Guidance on Essential Critical Infrastructure Workforce

  • The guidance includes chemicals, commercial facilities, communications, critical manufacturing, emergency services, energy, financial services, food and agriculture, government, health care, information technology, transportation systems, and water and wastewater systems as essential.

State & Federal Resources

Center for Disease Control

Federal Department of Health & Human Services

Federal Department of Justice

All State Government Resources

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance

Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation

Wisconsin Department of Trade, Agriculture & Consumer Protection

Public Service Commission of Wisconsin

Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions

Wisconsin Department of Children & Families

Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

University of Wisconsin System

Elections

Wisconsin PPE Donation/Buyback Program

 

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Resources

More information from WMC at https://www.wmc.org/home/coronavirus-covid-19-business-resource-center/.

 

See News Clips for the latest press coverage on COVID-19 in Wisconsin.

 

 

  • The Hamilton Consulting Group wishes all the families out there a happy Mother's Day.