State News: April 10-17

Marquette Poll Finds Support for Closing Businesses, Schools

Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly supported closing schools and businesses to slow the spread of the new coronavirus, according to the latest Marquette University Law School poll.

And their support for Gov. Tony Evers has never been higher. Marquette’s latest survey – its first since the COVID-19 pandemic officially began – suggested that a normally divided Wisconsin is coming together around unprecedented restrictions by the state government in the name of stopping the spread of the new coronavirus. By one measure, residents were as optimistic as ever.

A total of 86 percent of Wisconsin voters said it was appropriate to close schools and businesses, and 76 percent supported Evers’ response to the pandemic. And despite a record surge in unemployment claims, 61 percent said the state was “headed in the right direction” – the highest number ever since Marquette’s poll started in 2012.

The decision to close schools and businesses found broad bipartisan support. Among Democrats, 95 percent supported the decision, and 83 percent of Republicans supported the move.

Support for Evers’ handling of the pandemic was also bipartisan, with 89 percent of Democrats and 63 percent of Republicans indicating support.

Democratic National Convention Postponed 

After more than a year of preparation that brought excitement and a national spotlight to Milwaukee, the Democratic National Convention has been postponed because of COVID-19.

Organizers of the Milwaukee event that had been planned for July 13-16 made the announcement April 2 after weeks of speculation, according to a host-committee news release. Instead, the convention will be held during the week of Aug. 17, but its length is unknown.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said finding out the convention would be postponed instead of canceled was “really good news at a time when everyone needed to hear really good news.”

“How many visitors, we don’t know,” Barrett said during a teleconference. “How many days to the convention, we don’t know. But I think what really allowed this to happen was a recognition by the Democratic National Committee and Tom Perez and Joe Somonese in particular to remain committed to Wisconsin, to remain committed to Milwaukee.”

Dairy Groups Urge Aid for Farmers Forced to Dump Milk Wisconsin dairy groups are calling on the federal government to aid farmers who are being asked to dump their milk in light of decreased demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

They’re asking U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to leverage billions of dollars to buy dairy commodities from the recently passed coronavirus aid package, known as the CARES Act. 

“The CARES Act directs $14 billion to the Commodity Credit Corporation, $9.5 billion to a dedicated disaster-relief fund for agriculture, $25 billion for SNAP programs and $450 million to support food banks serving the food insecure,” they wrote in a letter. “This bill enables unprecedented support for farmers and unprecedented commodity purchases, and we need the USDA to bring these forms of aid to bear immediately.”

John Umhoefer, executive director of the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association, said the cheese industry has lost a big share of its largest market, including schools and restaurants that are now closed. 

“We have seen sales decline after 9/11. We’ve seen sales decline when there was the banking crisis in 2009, but we’re looking at over half the restaurants in the United States that are either closed or operating at a reduced level,” Umhoefer said. “That has never happened before.”

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