State Senator Bob Wirch released the following statement, with information about resources available in the wake of the coronavirus emergency.
Madison-With growing concern about the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) and mounting numbers of closings and cancellations, it is important that we all work together: to contain the virus, to protect our most vulnerable citizens, and to look out for each other.
The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is to take these preventative steps:
- Avoid close contact with others (social distancing), ESPECIALLY with people who are or might be sick
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
- Stay home if you aren’t feeling well
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then through the tissue in the trash; cough or sneeze into elbow if you must
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing
- Avoid gatherings of people, particularly large groups, and limit non-essential travel
This time of uncertainty and isolation can make people feel fearful, anxious and alone. If you are feeling this way and would like someone to talk to, please feel free to call or email my office at (608)267-8979 and [email protected], and my staff or I will be happy to give you a call back to check in during this difficult time.
With school closures lasting at least the next few weeks, parents may be looking for ways to keep their children engaged in learning during this time. Fortunately, there are a number of online resources that can help with this. Khan Academy, Duolingo, Smithsonian Institution and Open Culture are a few examples. For more information on these and others, visit https://www.weareteachers.com/free-online-learning-resources/.
Finally, there are a number of businesses and government agencies that are making accommodations and resources available or providing guidance in dealing with the current situation:
- Charter Spectrum is offering free Spectrum broadband and Wi-Fi access for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students who do not already have a Spectrum broadband subscription. To enroll, call 1-844-488-8395; installation fees will be waived for new student households.
- AT&T is suspending broadband data caps from home internet customers.
- AT&T, Charter, CenturyLink, Comcast, Cox, Sonic, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon have pledged to not terminate service for residential or small business customers, waive late fees incurred as a result of the virus, and open access to public Wi-Fi hotspots for at least the next 60 days.
- The state Public Service Commission has directed water, electric and natural gas utilities to cease disconnecting residential service for nonpayment until the state public health emergency has been lifted; utilities must also make reasonable attempts to reconnect services to occupied residences that have been disconnected.
- Disney has made the hit movie “Frozen 2” available three months early on its streaming service, Disney+.
- The Hospitality Center in Racine will be serving coffee and pastries to-go from 7:30 to 8:30 am and lunch to go from 11:30 am to 12:15 pm beginning Monday, March 16. The Hospitality Center is also seeking volunteers to help with their efforts.
- The Wisconsin Elections Commission has directed municipal clerks to mail absentee ballots directly to residents in nursing homes and care facilities instead of sending groups of special voting deputies to those places to conduct voting. The Elections Commission has also given municipal clerks flexibility to relocate polling places slated to be in nursing homes and other facilities where public health is a concern. More information can be found at https://elections.wi.gov/clerks/recent-communications. As a precaution, voters are being encouraged to request an absentee ballot for the upcoming April 7elections. Absentee ballots can be requested at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/VoteAbsentee.
- Microsoft, Google, Zoom and Slack are offering products that facilitate work-from-home situations at reduced or no cost at this time.
- In Racine, eight school sites will be distributing food, books and student enrichment packets Monday through Thursday, 9 to 10 am: Fratt, Jerstad-Agerholm, Julian Thomas, Knapp, SC Johnson, Wadewitz, West Ridge and Schulte. Additionally, community meals will be served at three sites on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm: Jerstad-Agerholm, Julian Thomas and Knapp. Information on Kenosha will be forthcoming.
- The Grace Welcome Center Pantry in Kenosha will be allowing families with children to come every week and providing special boxes of food with kid-friendly breakfast and lunch items. The pantry is open Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. Additionally, breakfast will be served at the Welcome Center Thursday and Friday from 8:30 to 9:15.
- The Shalom Center Food Pantry shopping hours are Monday/Wednesday/Friday from 8:30 – 9:30 am, 10:00 – 11:30 am, and 1:00 – 2:30 pm. Meals are served daily at the Shalom Center from 5 – 6 pm.
- ELCA Outreach is serving lunch daily at 12 noon.
- Grab’s Burger Bar is open for free meals during the epidemic Monday – Friday from 11 am to 9 pm.
- Additional meal sites include: Monday – Immanuel United Methodist from 5 – 6 pm; Tuesday – Christ the King Church from 5-6 pm; Wednesday – Grace Lutheran from 5 – 6 pm; Thursday – Bethlehem Temple from 5 – 6 pm; Friday – Blessing Center from 5 – 6 pm.
- The federal government is temporarily waiving interest payments on federal student loans. Monthly payment amounts are expected to remain the same; however what usually goes toward interest will be applied to the principle.
- The U.S. House of Representatives has approved an aid package in response to spread of the coronavirus. The legislation will provide two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave; federal Medicaid funding expansion to support local, state, tribal and territorial governments combat the crisis; and free coronavirus testing regardless for everyone who needs it, regardless of insurance coverage. The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the bill in the next few days, and President Trump has expressed his support.
This is a tough time, but it’s important not to panic. If we all stick together and look out for each other, we can help limit the impact of the outbreak and come out on the other side as soon as possible.