The Daily Press will update this post continually with the latest local news about closures, postponements and other information related to the coronavirus epidemic.
3/20 10:30 a.m. update:
Norvado says it won’t cancel services
Norvado will not terminate service to any residential or small business customer because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Norvado also will waive any late fees that any residential or small business customer incurs because of their economic circumstances related to the pandemic.
The company said it also will upgrade existing customers Internet speed for free for three months and seasonal customers will not be charged the seasonal upgrade or date charge to reinstate service early.
New residential customers also will receive three months free and installation fees will be waived.
The company also is taking measures to mitigate the spread of viruses:
§ Offices closed to the public and Norvado vendors.
§ Career Day scheduled for April 8 will be postponed.
§ Norvado’s Cable location’s training room is closed.
§ Technicians/employees will survey customers relative to their Coronavirus/COVID-19 exposure prior to entering their homes and businesses. Should it be evident exposure exists, they will assist the customer remotely but will not enter the premises.
§ Norvado employees, whenever possible, will work from home.
DNR: Parks and trails open, campgrounds closed
Wisconsin state parks and trails will remain open to the public, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said Friday.
Recent guidance from the Department of Health Services (DHS) recommends canceling or postponing gatherings of 10 people or more to help protect Wisconsinites, visitors and staff from the spread of COVID-19, particularly those who are most vulnerable to infection and severe disease.
"We recognize that spending time outdoors benefits both physical and mental health. Getting outdoors can also help relieve stress, especially during this public health emergency. A quiet walk does wonders to reduce our anxieties," DNR Secretary Preston D. Cole said in a release. "The DNR is committed to providing a safe environment for our visitors to enjoy, while protecting the health of our staff."
Parks, law enforcement and property staff will ensure groups larger than 10 do not congregate and provide routine sweeps of state park system properties.
As of Friday, the DNR made the following changes to the operation of all state parks and recreation areas:
Voluntary Registration Fees
• Admission is voluntary at this time via self-registration or electronic kiosks
State park offices, visitor centers, and non-essential buildings closed, bathrooms remain open
• Effective immediately, the DNR will close the following state buildings to the public: Park headquarters, offices, visitor centers, nature centers, research stations, ranger stations, shooting ranges, fish hatcheries, shelters, showers, concessions, and indoor group camp buildings on all DNR owned properties open to the public.
• Restrooms on state properties will remain open given there are enough resources, cleaning supplies and access to personal protective equipment for staff to maintain them.
• Properties will continue to be staffed and outdoor recreational opportunities (hiking, trails, fishing, hunting, etc.) remain open at this time.
• Visitors are reminded to practice proper personal hygiene to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to limit group sizes to under ten people when enjoying state properties.
Camping And Special Permits
• All campsites are closed through April 30.
• Refunds will be issued to all customers.
• No new reservations will be accepted until further notice.
• DNR staff or Camis Reservations staff will be reaching out to individuals with current or upcoming group camping reservations to issue refunds. Any other questions regarding camping reservations can be directed to the Camis Call Center at 1-888-947-2757.
• DNR property managers will also be contacting groups or individuals who have existing special event permits.
• Customer service representatives also continue to provide service via phone at 1-888-936-7463 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily.
3/19 4:45 p.m. update:
Mad Island ferry urges limiting rides
Madeline Island Ferry Line said Thursday it “is strongly recommending not taking the ferry unless you are a resident or commuting to work” on the island in light of the confirmed coronavirus case in Bayfield.
“We make emergency runs, bring supplies to the Island community and provide commuter service to and from the Island,” line co-owner Robin Trinko Russell said. “During this time of the year, there are no alternative forms of transportation between Bayfield and the Island.
Russell said the line will continue to watch coronavirus developments and will adjust schedules and operations as necessary.
“We share your concern about the recently confirmed case in our area. We hope to continue to serve as a link between the Island and the Chequamegon Bay region,” she said.
3/19 1:30 p.m. update:
Memorial Blood Center to hold emergency drive
Blood supplies across the Northwoods are critically low and Memorial Blood Center will hold an emergency drive March 31 to help rebuild stocks.
The drive will be held at Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, in a bloodmobile van from 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
DMV closes offices
All Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles offices will be closed on Friday, March 20 to conduct a deep clean and modify public spaces for social distancing.
When DMV service centers reopen Monday, March 23, in-person visits will be limited to issuing new driver licenses and identification cards by appointment only. All vehicle-related tasks can be done online at wisconsindmv.gov
DMV is also implementing temporary changes to other services:
-Driver licenses and CDLs that expire during this public health emergency will be automatically extended 60 days. Late fees will be waived. Law enforcement will be aware of the extension and that the driver license is valid.
-All driver skills tests are being cancelled as of March 18 until further notice.
-Customers are being notified that administrative suspension hearings will be offered by phone or paper, not in-person.
3/19 11:30 a.m. update: diocese cancels Masses, casinos close
Superior Diocese cancels Catholic Masses
The Rev. James P. Powers, bishop of the Superior diocese that includes Ashland, suspended the public celebration of Masses until further notice.
“This action is something I take very seriously,” Powers said in a release. “The celebration of the Eucharist is the indispensable source and summit of the Christian life. Historically, in times of crisis, the faithful naturally turn to the Church for comfort and direction and we need to do whatever we can to support our people. Therefore, although the public celebration of the Mass is suspended, I ask that we as bishops and priests, the spiritual shepherds of the diocese, continue to celebrate weekday and Sunday Masses. I also ask, that where possible, our churches remain open at least part of the day for private prayer and that you encourage your people to reserve some part of their day for private prayer and devotions.”
The Diocese’s 14 Catholic schools are discontinuing in-school instruction and all parish classroom religious education programs and non-essential gatherings should be stopped as well. Peggy Schoenfuss, superintendent of Catholic schools and director of catholic formation, is working with school principals and directors of religious education in helping to develop plans for online and other homeschooling possibilities.
The Superior Diocese covers 16 counties in northern Wisconsin including Ashland’s Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church.
Local tribes close casinos
The Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewas is closing its resort and casino at 5 p.m. Thursday, following the lede of the Bad River band that closed Wednesday.
Red Cliff said in a news release that it will remain closed until at least April 5 to protect employees, patrons and the community.
“Until the specified closing time, we are implementing measures to safeguard employees and patrons such as enhanced cleaning operations, cancelling group events, facilitating social distancing between customers at tables and machines, and modifying food operations,” the release said. “We remind patrons and employees alike to be responsible and not come to our facilities if you are ill.”
Red Cliff said it will provide all casino and lodge employees with two weeks pay to help them through the closure.
Bad River closed its operations at midnight Wednesday for at least two weeks.
3/19 9 a.m. update:
St. Luke’s cuts non-essential clinic appointments
St. Luke’s will be rescheduling many routine clinic appointments, elective surgeries and procedures starting March 19 and continuing at least through early April.
St. Luke’s has made this decision in order to further protect patients, staff and the community and prevent the spread of COVID-19. St. Luke’s will contact patients to let them know if their appointment is going to be rescheduled. If anyone has further questions about their appointment status, they are asked to contact their clinic directly.
St. Luke’s is also actively working to add telehealth options, which will allow providers to see patients from the comfort and safety of their homes.
Due to severe shortages in reagents, the Minnesota Department of Health is directing that COVID-19 testing only be performed on health care providers or first responders who are symptomatic and on patients who are ill enough to require admission. Effective immediately, St. Luke’s is implementing the MDH’s testing protocol.
Ashland polling location changed
Voters in Ashland’s districts 2 through 6 will vote April 7 at the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College instead of the Ashland Senior Enrichment Center.
The city made the change Wednesday to prevent exposing residents at the senior center to voters who might carry coronavirus or other illnesses, Ashland City Clerk Denise Oliphant said.
“We do not want to create any more exposure than we have to,” she said.
Oliphant noted that the WITC campus is closed and those employees who remain there aren’t as vulnerable as the elderly who live at the senior center.
Oliphant continued to encourage all voters to cast absentee ballots. Requests for ballots can be sent to myvote.wi.gov.
3/18 4 p.m. update:
Ashland bars warned closed means closed
Ashland Police Chief Jim Gregoire said Wednesday that any liquor-license holder within the that doesn’t follow Gov. Tony Evers’ prohibition of gatherings of 10 people or more or the order prohibiting restaurants from serving food on site, risks losing its liquor license.
Gregoire said the Ashland Police Department would recommend that the city not approve renewal of licenses by the City Council.
New procedures at Bad River Clinic
The Bad River Clinic is putting new restrictions and procedures in place to protect patients and staff members.
As of Wednesday, all patients are required to enter via the main entrance where they can use hand sanitizer and those with respiratory illness can put on a mask. Anyone who fears they may have COVID-19 or have been exposed to it is asked to call the clinic, 715-682-7133, before arriving so staff can prepare.
The clinic also removed all toys, magazines and other items from waiting areas and common places, and reception areas are being cleaned several times a day.
Clinic rooms are being cleaned between each patient’s visit, and rooms that house suspected COVID-19 patients receive extra sanitation.
Those patients who fear they might have coronavirus are asked to stay in their cars or, for patients who arrive by bus, in the entrance area until a staff member can meet them with a mask and they can be escorted to an isolation room.
Elective dental procedures at the clinic are canceled for the next three weeks and doctors’ schedules have been rearranged to ensure they have enough time with patients who may have been exposed to COVID.
Testing for coronavirus can only be done at the clinic if ordered by a physician.
As of Wednesday, AODA groups continued to meet at the clinic. The previously schedule women’s wellness event has been canceled bu a mammogram bus is still scheduled to visit on April 1.
Information provided by Bad River Clinic.
3/18 2 p.m. update:
Ashland Sheriff limits deputy contacts
The Ashland County Sheriff’s Department will limit contact between deputies and community members as much as possible to protect both groups from the spread of disease.
Sheriff Mick Brennan said all non-emergency calls will be handled over the phone as much as possible. The Ashland County Jail also has suspended all personal contacts with inmates and non-essential personnel are being restricted from access to the secured areas of the jail.
Brennan said it is also very possible that with all of the closures, the may see an increase in property crimes. He asked all residents to keep homes and vehicles secured and to report any suspicious activities as they are happening. Deputies will increase patrol efforts in residential areas. The non-emergency number for Ashland County Sheriff’s Office is 715-682-7023 Ext. 1. For emergencies, please dial 911.
Information provided by Ashland County Sheriff's Department.
La Pointe closes all municipal buildings
The town of La Pointe on Madeline Island on Wednesday closed all municipal buildings except for meetings made by appointment.
The town’s Material Recovery Facility will be open only on Wednesdays and Saturdays until further notice.
Residents are asked to call 715-747-6913 to set up appointments for all other services.
Information provided by town of La Pointe
Evers restricts child-care facilities
Gov. Tony Evers on Wednesday directed Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to restrict the size of all child-care settings. Centers may not operate with more than 10 staff present at a time and may not operate with more than 50 children present at a time. The restriction in size goes into effect at 8 a.m. Thursday March 19, to give child-care providers and families time to make plans for care moving forward. The closure will remain in effect for the duration of the public health emergency declared by Executive Order #72.
3/18 11:30 a.m. update:
Northern State Bank closes lobby
Northern State Bank is closing its lobbies Wednesday to comply with Gov. Tony Evers’ order that gatherings of 10 people or more be forbidden.
The bank said its drive-up operations will remain open to customers.
CAMBA holds off on cancelations
The Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association is holding off on canceling its three upcomine events, the South Shore Enduro, Mt. Ashwabay Women's Clinic, and Cable-Hayward Women's Clinic.
The organization said Wednesday it was too soon to make a final decision about the status of these events with the earliest scheduled for May 9). As the events draw closer or if CAMBA gets additional guidance from the government it will make decisions about postponing or continuing with the events.
For the health of everyone involved, CAMBA encouraged people to:
- Get outside, get some exercise and fresh air, but do it responsibly without risking infecting someone else or getting yourself infected.
- Do not go out anywhere into a crowd of people that you do not absolutely have to. Do your part to flatten the curve.
- If you do not feel well, do not go anywhere near other people.
- Support local businesses by ordering something to go through a drive up window, or buying a gift certificate online. Small businesses will be hit the hardest through all of this.
- Eat well and get some sleep.
- Check on anyone you are worried about by giving them a call.
- Wash your hands many, many times per day.
- Sort your gear and your bike. Spring or summer will come, and the CAMBA trails will be ready for you.
Information provided by Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association
3/18 10 a.m. update:
Ashland County cancels court activities
All non-essential court activities in Ashland County are being suspended through May 1. This suspension of court activities is subject to modification as conditions relating to the state and national emergency develop.
Cases that are currently scheduled on the court’s docket will be rescheduled for a date after May 1. For cases involving represented parties, the judicial assistant will assist in rescheduling. Those people representing themselves will receive a notice of a rescheduled date.
Essential court activities include:
Bail hearings for arrested individuals
Time-limit-sensitive hearings in juvenile cases including TPC hearings
Emergency detention hearings
Restraining order hearings
Guardianship and protective placement hearings
Wellness and recovery court hearings
Criminal jury trials subject to speedy trial demands.
To the extent possible, those with business for the court are asked to use teleconference and videoconference to minimize personal contact and minimize the threat of disease transmission.
Court facilities currently remain open. The court will continue to accept all filings although members of the bar and the public are discouraged from making any non-essential visits to court facilities.
Information provided by Ashland County Circuit Court.
Bayfield County businesses close
The Bayfield Chamber and Visitor Bureau on Tuesday updated its list of local businesses affected by coronavirus:
Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center - CLOSED
Howl Clothing & Adventure - Hours at least through the first two weeks of April - Closed Tues & Wed. Sun, Mon, Thurs, Fri 10-2, Sat 10-4.
Bremer Bank - As of Thursday, March 19 the lobby will be closed to the public. The drive-up window will remain open regular business hours. If you need to have access to a safe deposit box or to see Duane, please call and make an appointment. (715) 779-5894
Pier Plaza Restaurant & Lounge - Due to this we have made the difficult and necessary decision to suspend in restaurant dining. However, at this time we have decided to start offering a food pick up at our outside service window as well as a delivery service. Details to come.
Apostle Islands Booksellers will close our doors to the public effective immediately. That said, we will not be 100% closed. We will still have a staff member on hand from noon-4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday to manage online orders, curbside pickups and local deliveries. To stay up to date on any changes, please visit our online store at www.apostleislandsbooksellers.com,
Cafe Coco will close 5 p.m. Thursday March 19. If you would like to help Coco out financially, the purchase of a gift card via telephone would be a great idea - (715) 373-2253. We can mail it to you or you can pick it up when we re-open. We will do our best to keep our bread stocked up until Thursday. We will be making large batches of all our breads Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. http://www.coconorth.com/
Gale Force Coffee will be closed effective immediately until further notice. The Winfield Inn office will stay open, for now, with just a few employees.
The Bayfield Artists Guild will be closed until further notice.
Encore Resale Store will be closed March 19 through April 1. We will be taking donations this Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Lakeside Dining Room, The Lounge Bar & The Creamery will be closed until further notice.
Legendary Waters Resort & Casino
Effective immediately all buffets are discontinued until further notice. Dine-in and ordering off menu is accepted. Ordering to-go is accepted at the restaurant (715) 779-9412 and snack bar (715) 779-9468, subject to change.
3/17 8 a.m. update:
Social Security offices close
All local Social Security offices will be closed to the public for in-person service to protect the population it serves — older Americans and people with underlying medical conditions—and employees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Services remain available at www.socialsecurity.gov. Local offices will also continue to provide critical services over the phone.
If you need help from Social Security:
First, please use online services available at www.socialsecurity.gov/onlineservices. You can apply for retirement, disability, and Medicare benefits online, check the status of an application or appeal, request a replacement Social Security card (in most areas), print a benefit verification letter, and much more from anywhere and from any device. Information available on the site will answer most Social Security questions without having to speak with a Social Security representative in person or by phone. Please visit online Frequently Asked Questions at www.socialsecurity.gov/ask.
If you cannot conduct your Social Security business online, please check the online field office locator for specific information about how to directly contact your local office. Your local office still will be able to provide critical services to help apply for benefits, answer questions and provide other services over the phone.
If you already have an in-office appointment scheduled, it will be conducted over the phone instead. If you have a hearing scheduled, Social Security will contact you to discuss alternatives for continuing with your hearing, including offering a telephonic hearing. The call may come from a private number and not from a U.S. Government phone. Please remember that employees will not threaten you or ask for any form of payment.
3/16 3 p.m. update:
Job Center closes, events postponed
The Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board in Ashland announced three temporary job center closures and the postponement of two spring events.
The Ashland Job Center at 422 Third St. W.; Park Falls Job Center at City Hall, 400 S. Fourth Ave.; and Spooner Job Center at 522 Service Road will be closed to the public from March 19 to April 6. The centers are expected to re-open the week of April 6. The Job Centers located in Ladysmith and Hayward, both inside campuses of Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, will remain closed throughout WITC’s two-week extended spring break. The latest information on job center hours, including which centers remain open and fully staffed, can be found at http://www.nwwib.com/http://www.nwwib.com/covid19.
In light of the continued concern over the COVID-19 virus and Gov. Tony Evers’ current ban of mass gatherings of more than 50 people, the NWWIB is cancelling the poverty simulation scheduled for April 3 at the WITC Ashland campus and will likely reschedule for a later date. The Libraries Activating Workforce Development Skills (LAWDS) workshop scheduled for April 7 at the Phillips Library has also been cancelled.
The board encourages local employers to post jobs and recruit talent at jobcenterofwisconsin.com
and encourages job seekers to register and look for jobs at that website.
For more information on the northwest Wisconsin Job Centers or the work of the Northwest Wisconsin Workforce Investment Board, please visit http://www.nwwib.com/ or call 715 682-7235.
3/16 1:30 p.m. update:
CSO cancels concert
The April 4 Chequamegon Symphony Orchestra concert has been cancelled due to the health crisis.
Ashland Chamber cancels events
The Ashland Chamber is canceling the March Business After Hours event and the Ashland Rotary Club has cancelled the March Business After Five event. In addition the Third Thursday event slated for downtown Ashland has been canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nooji Center cancels recovery meetings
In taking precautionary measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 to our clients, community and staff, the following meetings at Noojimo’iwewin Center in Red Cliff are cancelled till further notice:
- Alanon, Tuesday 6 p.m.
- Wellbriety,Wednesday 6 p.m.
- Narcotics Anonymous, Thursday 10 a.m.
- Back to Basics of Recovery, Thursday 3 p.m.
- Alcoholics Anonymous, Friday 6 p.m.
3/16, noon update:
AARP suspends tax service
Due to Coronavirus Concerns the AARP Foundation tax-aide service is being suspended until further notice.
The program’s website, www.aarpfoundation.org/taxaide, is the best resource for information and changes in service availability. Tax-aide will continue to assess whether some or all sites can re-open during this tax season as regularly scheduled, or during a longer tax season if it is extended.
Information provided by AARP.
Essentia Health restricts visitors
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Essentia Health has made the difficult decision to restrict visitors at our hospitals. This is being done to protect patients and staff and prevent the spread of this virus.
No visitors are allowed, except in the following circumstances:
· Inpatients: Visitors only will be allowed based on compassionate-care needs. Family members are advised to call the hospital/unit before coming.
· Emergency department: One visitor for pediatric, vulnerable adult, trauma or other patient requiring communication to a health care team on their behalf.
· Pediatric patients: One adult visitor will be allowed per patient.
· Labor and delivery patients: One adult visitor will be allowed per patient.
· Neonatal intensive care unit: One parent is permitted to visit at a time.
All other visitors will be asked to leave the hospital. Additionally, no visitors who are ill will be allowed.
We encourage family and friends to use alternative methods of communication with patients, such as phone calls, Facetime, Skype or other digital channels.
This policy goes into effect at noon Monday, March 16, and will continue indefinitely.
Information provided by Essentia Health.
Xcel Energy suspends disconnections
Xcel Energy said Monday it will not disconnect residential customers’ electric or natural gas service until further notice. This falls in line with the directive given on Friday by the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin. This step will help ensure people have the energy they need to power their homes and keep their families safe. In addition, for customers who have difficulty paying their electric or natural gas bill, the company will work with them to arrange payment plans that meet their circumstances.
“We want to assure our customers that as part of our commitment to the communities we serve, we’re here to support them during this difficult time,” said Brett Carter, executive vice president. “The energy grid is essential to the nation’s critical infrastructure and we’re taking a well-planned, heightened approach to all threats, including COVID-19. We will work with our customers, our communities and government leaders to ensure the lights and heat stay on and that those we serve are cared for and protected.”
Information provided by Xcel Energy.