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Gov. Evers announces $32 million to support COVID-19 testing at UW campusesSubmitted: 08/06/2020
Gov. Evers announces $32 million to support COVID-19 testing at UW campuses
Maya Reese
Maya Reese
Reporter/Digital Content Director
mreese@wjfw.com

MADISON - Gov. Tony Evers Thursday announced more than $32 million in financial assistance to the University of Wisconsin (UW) System and the University of Wisconsin-Madison as they prepare to welcome students back to campus this fall. 

The $32 million announced today comes in addition to the $18.9 million the governor allocated from Wisconsin's portion of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to UW System campuses and the $95.6 million UW System institutions received directly through the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund under the CARES Act.

"As campuses across the UW System prepare to have students return to campus, it is critically important that every campus has the resources it needs to help keep our students safe," said Gov. Evers. "The COVID-19 pandemic brings great uncertainty and having robust testing efforts is one of the most important tools we have to help box in this virus and make sure our students stay healthy and safe."

The effort is funded by CARES Act dollars provided directly to Wisconsin. UW System will receive $24 million toward its COVID-19 plan, helping campuses to test symptomatic students, those who have had close contact with symptomatic students, and students living in residence halls. Under UW System's plan, state funding will help purchase 276,000 tests, 246,000 of which will be allocated to campuses and 30,000 of which will be held in reserve by UW System for peaks or shortfalls. The funding will also help cover personal protective equipment and staff for administering tests.

"Gov. Evers' commitment to providing the resources for strong testing measures throughout the UW System will help us safely reopen our campuses this fall for students, faculty, staff, and our university communities," said interim UW System President Tommy Thompson.

Similarly, UW-Madison, which previously announced its COVID-19 testing plan, will receive $8.3 million from Wisconsin's CARES Act allocation for testing, equipment, staff, and personal protective equipment to support their efforts to test symptomatic individuals, those who have had close contact with symptomatic individuals, and students living in residence halls. State support will help UW-Madison purchase 134,000 tests.

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Farm adapts to COVIDSubmitted: 09/24/2020

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MERRILL - Grampa's Farm in Merrill like a lot of businesses have had to adapt because of COVID.

"We've expanded our hours and we've expanded our play areas to include more things and outdoor space," said Jered Severt, operator at Grampa's Farm.

But change is something that Severt and his family are used to.

"The dairy industry just wasn't working out for the smaller farmer," Severt said.

Severt and his family have had their barn for over 100 years.

"When I was born I came back to this farm," Severt said. "When my father was born he came back to this farm. My grandfather and his father and the previous father have all worked the soil here and have been a part of Grampa's Farm."

And without all the help from his family and friends, he knows none of this would be possible.

"It still continues to be family run but friends and neighbors," Severt said. "A lot of people working together to make this happen for a lot of other people." 

For more information on Grampa's Farm check out their website.

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MILWAUKEE - Demonstrations in Wisconsin over a grand jury's decision not to indict Louisville, Kentucky police officers in Breonna Taylor's death were relatively peaceful with protesters in Milwaukee blocking traffic on an interstate.

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MADISON - On September 22nd the United States hit a staggering 200,000 COVID-19 deaths. Wisconsin alone has 100,000 cases. The high numbers of deaths and cases can be lowered by modifying our behaviors and by wearing a mask properly.

There have been revisions to the mask mandate. Originally, it was said that only people not feeling well are required to wear it. It was changed when it was discovered that just talking could cause an outbreak.

Dr. Jeff Pothof of UW Madison Health spoke about how not wearing a mask can affect your long term health.

"People who had no idea they were sick had enough virus where they could spread it and the only thing they needed to do to spread it was talk to someone else," said Pothof.

COVID-19 is all across the country and not wearing a mask is putting yourself and the people around you at risk.

"There is no way you can know. It is everywhere right now. To think that you live in a location where COVID-19 hasn't reached yet is just not true," said Pothof.

To ensure you're protected, wear a cloth mask that is two layers thick to prevent your droplets from escaping and to protect from other droplets.

Make sure to wash your cloth masks once a week and change paper masks once every three to 5 days.

"They need to cover your nose and your mouth. If you only cover your mouth, the mask is not effective. Those droplets are coming out your nose and it just doesn't work," said Pothof.

For those thinking there's no repercussions from catching COVID-19, there are health risks that can be long term and affect your everyday life.

"People who have had COVID-19 may not ever return to normal lung function and that can impact them in ways such as in physical exertion and their ability to do things. Their physical stamina may decreased because their lungs are no longer as effective as they were before they had COVID-19," said Pothof.

The other long term health risks of COVID-19 is an inflamed heart.

"Likewise people that have an inflamed heart muscle tissue their hearts don't pump as effectively. The more severe COVID-19 the more inflammation they saw in the heart muscle. And we don't know how long that will last. The more severe the COVID-19 the more inflammation they saw in the heart muscle," said Pothof.

In cities like Madison and Milwaukee, their hospitals are equipped to handle a large influx of people and have special wards to combat COVID-19--unlike the smaller hospitals in our communities.

"Even if you have a small outbreak , you're going to quickly strip the healthcare resources in your community and when that happens only bad things happen to those people," said Pothof.

Make sure to mask up properly, to keep your loved ones and your community safe. For more information, you can visit the CDC website.

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MEDFORD - Medford Area School District is voting this November on a 39.9 million dollar referendum for Medford Area High School. If approved the district plans to build additional classrooms to help promote a more creative, collaborative and hands on learning environment. Superintendent Pat Sullivan says, the small classrooms at the school have been a struggle for years for the District.
"We don't have enough classroom space. The classroom space we have was built in '68 so they were built small. Very little daylight. Some of them don't have any windows," Sullivan said. "We're using every nook and cranny. Every office space we can.
The referendum will also provide an additional gym and theater space.The proposed referenda would cost the public 53 dollar tax impact on a 100,000 household property. The district has already lowered their original proposal to match the public's feedback after the District released a survey.
Ultimately, the lack of space is not just an academic struggle for students, but one regarding their safety.
"If you had a situation where a student was positive, there's no doubt going to be a number of close contacts. We've been very honest about that and up front. We cannot social distance in many of our classrooms," Sullivan said.
As many districts move away from in-person classes, Sullivan says that this is the time to act in order to secure a better tomorrow for the community.
"Yeah, COVID-19 I get. It, [there's] a lot of uncertainty. But again, your always going to have something," Sullivan said. "It's never going to be a perfect situation."
The district will be having open house Q & A sessions about the proposal later next month. In the mean time, families can reach out to the district to schedule a tour to see the school for themselves. 

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