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Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

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Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday announced a $100 million grant program targeting a sector of health care providers facing financial turmoil during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program would send federal stimulus dollars to emergency medical service providers, home and community-based services and long-term care providers such as nursing homes, Evers said. 

The announcement comes a day after Wisconsin Watch and WPR reported on how the pandemic has exposed longstanding vulnerabilities in the system designed to aid elderly Wisconsinites and people with disabilities.

A report released in February described a “crisis” in caregiving, with 20,655 vacant positions in Wisconsin’s long-term and residential care facilities.

A May survey of 504 providers conducted by the nonprofit Survival Coalition of Wisconsin Disability Organizations showed rising costs and plunging revenues across the industry. Nearly 20% of surveyed businesses were unsure whether they would survive the pandemic.

“Governor Evers’ grant program assists providers to get fully established again and continue the critical services that will help people with disabilities stay healthy and get back into community life and the workforce, like we all aim to do,” Molly Keaveny, co-president of the Wisconsin Association of People Supporting Employment First, a nonprofit focused on employment for people with disabilities, said in an email. 

We also highlight our latest investigation, a collaboration with the Cap Times. While county jails have driven populations down significantly during the pandemic, state prisons have seen just a modest reduction in inmate numbers, Parker Schorr reports.

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“The governor has the authority to commute the sentences of people in prison, to grant pardons, and even to grant furloughs to people in prison … He does not need the Legislature or the Supreme Court in order to safely and quickly move at least 25% of people out of our state prisons, starting with the elderly, the sick and those who would be coming home soon anyway.”

Rev. Willie Briscoe of the Milwaukee-based prisoner-advocacy group Wisdom, as quoted by Wisconsin Watch and the Cap Times

Data to note

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate soared to 14.1% in April, and the state shed 385,900 private sector jobs and 439,400 total non-farm jobs between March and April, the Wisconsin Division of Workforce Development announced Thursday.

“Today’s report shows the significant impact that the COVID-19 global pandemic has had on the Wisconsin economy, and underscores the importance of rationally and safely reopening our state,” DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman said in a press release. “A strategy based on science that reduces the likelihood of additional outbreaks and further economic instability is the only way to get Wisconsin back on the path of historically low unemployment rates that the state was experiencing prior to COVID-19.”

Resilient Wisconsin

People helping others and showing resilience during this time of anxiety. Send suggestions by tagging us on social media — @wisconsinwatch — or emailing us:

Bucks guard Pat Connaughton to host 11-hour radiothon on Thursday to raise money for COVID-19 reliefMilwaukee Journal Sentinel 

Beloit woman fights off COVID-19 after nearly a month in hospitalBeloit Daily News

Man builds Lego versions of Monroe Street businesses he missesMadison Magazine

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