The Wisconsin Senate has overwhelmingly passed a pared-down COVID-19 relief package. And Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has promised to sign it if it clears the Assembly. 

Evers and Republican legislative leaders have been trying to hammer out a compromise package for weeks.

Assembly Republicans passed a bill last week, but Evers opposes it. Senate Republicans scaled the measure back.

They removed provisions that would prohibit local health officials from ordering businesses closed for more than two weeks at a time and block mandatory vaccinations.


Looking at the money generated through the room tax, it would appear Minocqua, Arbor Vitae, and Woodruff had a banner year for visitors in 2020.

When the pandemic hit and the stay home order went into place, the part of the Northwoods that depends on tourism wasn’t sure what to expect.

“In 2020, we really did not push tourism simply because of COVID-19,” said Let’s Minocqua Visitor’s Bureau and Chamber of Commerce Director Krystal Westfahl.

State health officials say police and firefighters in Wisconsin will be eligible to receive the coronavirus vaccine starting Jan. 18.

Gov. Tony Evers estimates in a letter made public on Monday that members of the general public won’t be vaccinated until June. Evers renewed his call for faster distribution of the vaccine from the federal government while state Republicans introduced a new response bill.


Wisconsin Senate Republicans have unveiled their own scaled-back COVID-19 response plan.

The measure released Monday goes father than Gov. Tony Evers wanted in many areas but that takes out several provisions he opposed that included in a bill passed by the Assembly last week.

The same bill must pass both the Senate and Assembly and be signed by Evers before becoming law. Evers has voiced opposition to the Assembly bill and he had no immediate reaction to the Senate version.

A Senate committee planned to hold a hearing and vote on their plan on Monday.

Wisconsin National Guard

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is encouraging everyone who needs to get tested for COVID-19 to do so. The Wisconsin National Guard is continuing its testing throughout the state.

These are the local sites with dates and times. Preregistration is recommended,

Iron County: Hurley hosts a community-based testing site on Jan. 12, Feb. 9 and Mar. 9. Held at the Hurley Fire Hall, 405 5th Ave. N., 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Iron Mountain VA Medical Center

Michigan is now in Phase 1B for COVID-19 vaccinations.

This means people 65 and older and essential frontline workers are eligible to get the vaccine.

For now, those in the latter group are being asked to go through their county Health Department.

Aspirus is helping vaccinate those in the 65 and older group.

Jessica Bessner is the Aspirus Regional Director of Pharmacy for the Upper Peninsula.

She says for right now the waitlist is open for people in live in Upper Peninsula Counties where an Aspirus Hospital or clinic is located.

A state committee looking into COVID-19 shots says it might open vaccinations to people 70 and older and limited groups of essential workers once most health care workers and nursing home residents are immunized

Members of a state vaccine committee have agreed on slight departures from federal guidelines, which call for moving next to ages 75 and older and more types of essential workers.

However, some disagreed on whether to add group home residents and prison and jail inmates.


Wisconsin has broken 500,000 positive cases of the coronavirus, two days after the state eclipse 5,000 dead.

As of Friday, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports that 502,012 people have tested positive for COVID-19 and 5,119 have died.

Wisconsin’s death count is the 22nd highest in the country overall and the 32nd highest per capita at 94 deaths per 100,000 people.

When schools shut down last March in response to the emerging pandemic, local schools were sent into a tailspin.

A new report gives more insight into how Wisconsin’s schools responded to the statewide shutdown.

Last year in January, students attended school like normal.

They played on playgrounds, read books and practiced math – all without a mask.

But this was before COVID-19 sped through the United States and ground normal activities to a halt.


Update 2:45 p.m.: The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature is divided on a coronavirus response bill that the state Assembly has passed but that the Senate GOP leader says his chamber opposes.

Even if the current bill were to somehow pass the full Legislature, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers has signaled his opposition and would likely veto the measure. Evers and Assembly Democrats have their own proposals that Republicans don't support.

Office of the Secretary of Defense

The first people to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in the Sokaogon Chippewa Community are just about ready to get their second doses.

Health Director Jamie Zarda says they’ve been fortunate to get enough of the Pfizer vaccine to administer doses to all the health clinic staff as well as tribal elders.

“It was so exciting to be able to get that,” said Zarda. She was one of the first to get the vaccine.

Zarda said she didn’t have any reaction to it other than a sore arm.

Iron Mountain VA Medical Center

Michigan will begin vaccinating seniors and front-line workers such as teachers and police against the coronavirus next week.

State officials on Wednesday announced a plan to accelerate access for people who are at least 65 years old.

The state had planned to next immunize those 75 and older and essential workers including first responders, prison guards and child care providers. But residents age 65 to 74 will be included, too.


Wisconsin surpassed 5,000 deaths from COVID-19, as the total number of cases neared half a million.

The state Department of Health Services reported 60 additional deaths on Wednesday, bringing the total to 5,039. There have been nearly 495,000 positive cases to date.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin peaked in mid-November and had been declining since, but started to rise again in late December.

The seven-day average of new cases on Wednesday was 2,493. That is the highest it has been since Dec. 24.


Millions of free masks are being provided to Michigan residents.

Michigan Mask Aid is an initiative from the state health department to ensure everyone has a mask.

There are a couple of locations to pick them up in Gogebic and Iron Counites.

These include the Iron County Health Department in Caspian and UPCAP Services in Ironwood.

There are also a couple of locations in Dickinson County.

It is recommended you call ahead.

Gogebic County Location:

The state of Wisconsin just finished its third week of distributing COVID-19 vaccinations to health care workers.

To date, 85,609 Wisconsinites have received the vaccine, according to Andrea Palm, the secretary-designee with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, in a media briefing Tuesday.

That’s a fraction of the nearly 270,000 vaccines that have been distributed to vaccinators around the state.

Palm said vaccination efforts slowed over the holidays.