Join Login COVID-19 Updates

Photo by Richard Hurd


Updated: 9/16/2021, 3:47 p.m.

The Chamber has a virtual portal for employers to submit questions relating to COVID-19 and its impact on business. Responses are posted at

To submit or vote up questions, visit and enter the event code #ASK4BIZ or simply click here to be directed to that page. Questions can also be submitted via email at

To view businesses’ reopening plans that have been shared through our portal, click here.

To participate in the #JustAsk campaign, print this flyer (English or Spanish) and display it in your business to encourage customers to #JustAsk about policies and procedures being implemented to reduce risks to their health and safety.

To learn more about resources available to small businesses, click here.

To view the Chamber’s agenda for reopening the economy and accelerating our recovery, click here.

To view the second video in the Chamber’s “For You. For Us. Forward.” series, click here.

To learn more about community resources that Greater Madison businesses are offering, click here.

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UW Health Chief Clinical Officer Dr. Peter Newcomer joined us today for Lunch(UP)date, the Chamber program (presented by Perkins Coie) where you can take a break and enjoy lunch while staying curious, connected and informed.

View the full recording of Lunch(UP)date here.

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Public Health Madison & Dane County has extended its indoor mask requirement while including previously unaddressed exemptions in the new order. The order expires Friday, Oct. 8.

New exemptions under the amended order include:

— While presenting or performing a religious, political, media, educational, artistic, cultural, musical, theatrical or any other type of presentation for an audience, as long as:

1) Everyone at the presentation or event is fully vaccinated; and 

2) Presenters and performers maintain at least six feet distance from all attendees at all times.

Note that there is no provision allowing for attendees to, in lieu of proof of vaccination, show a negative COVID test in order for performers and presenters to gain an exemption from the mask requirement.

— When actively playing a wind instrument that has a fabric bell cover, or similar cover, that acts as a face covering over the instrument, as long as individuals are spaced at least six feet apart.

While the implementation of some common-sense amendments to the mask order is long overdue, the fact that these amendments were needed at all is an admission that the order was not well-thought out in the first place. A one-size-fits-all order doesn’t make sense now and it didn’t make sense three weeks ago.

The Chamber is pro-mask, pro-vaccination and pro-science, but we are also pro-data. There is still no clarity with this order on what data is being utilized to drive these public health decisions. Without transparency or a mechanism for public input or discussion, the decision-making process on local health orders is broken.

As we have said throughout the pandemic, the role of government must be to balance health and safety with public confidence and the economy. Continuing to impose sweeping mandates without any clear benchmarks or stated metrics for success is detrimental to what should be our collective goal of achieving that equilibrium.

We remain in contact with local government officials and will share further updates as we receive them.

Read the full order here.

If you have additional questions about the order or other issues impacting your business, please submit them to and our staff and team of regional partners will work to get you an answer. All responses are posted on our website here.

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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced a new interim final rule – effective immediately – that will expand eligibility for the Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) program, as well as how businesses are able to spend loan proceeds.

Key changes include:

— Allowing businesses in certain hard-hit industries – including food service, lodging, and arts and entertainment – to be able to apply for an EIDL if they have 500 or fewer employees per physical location, up to 20 locations. Previously, eligible businesses had to have 500 or fewer employees total.

— Expanding the allowable uses of loan proceeds to include paying any type of business debt, including loans owned by a federal agency (including SBA) or a Small Business Investment Company (SBIC). Proceeds may also be used to make monthly payments, payments of deferred interest and pre-payments, though pre-payments are not permitted on debt owned by a federal agency.

— Capping aggregate loans to a single corporate group at $10 million. Entities are considered part of a single corporate group if they are majority-owned, directly or indirectly, by a common parent.

Full details can be found here.

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Since applications opened, there has been significant interest in the state’s new Main Street Bounceback Grants program, and the Chamber has received several inquiries about program benefits and eligibility requirements. The program enables businesses and non-profits considering moving into a vacant Wisconsin commercial space to be eligible to receive $10,000.

The main eligibility criteria are:

— The business is moving into a vacant commercial space or has moved into a vacant commercial space as of January 1, 2021.

— The business can certify that it has not or will not vacate a commercial space in Wisconsin to become eligible to claim this grant.

Business are not eligible if they are:

— Part of a national or regional chain, unless the business is an independently owned and operated franchise;

— A home-based business or property landlord, unless they are moving their business functions into the vacant commercial space;

— Real estate investment firms that intend to hold the property for investment purposes only;

— Planning to use the space for storage only or for residential purposes.

The program runs through June 30, 2022, or until funds are expended. It is being administered in our region by the Madison Region Economic Partnership (MadREP). Click here to learn more and apply.

If you need assistance with verification, please contact Helen Stewart.

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The Chamber recently hosted the latest in our Virtual Industry Meeting (VIM) series, as non-profit leaders assessed their current needs and future projections.

Participants said their respective teams are fully vaccinated or mostly vaccinated – and some are requiring vaccinations, as well as requiring masks. Most are utilizing a hybrid work mode, though several said the nature of their work in some cases has necessitated providing in-person services. Events are going forward as planned for most, though some attendees said they have moved activities outdoors.

Some volunteer-dependent organizations said they saw a dip in their volunteer base over the past year, though that is slowly returning to pre-pandemic levels. A particular bright spot for some attendees is that their fundraising efforts have been successful during a heightened time of need for many in our community, while others noted generous donations of food and other items.

The Chamber has convened leaders in more than 20 industries as part of our Virtual Industry Meeting series to help inform our advocacy. Please continue to share with us any policy ideas and recommendations.

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As of July 6, the full (and fully vaccinated) Chamber team has returned to our space on the third floor of the U.S. Bank building at 1 S. Pinckney St., Suite 330.

Our return-to-office plan involves being in-person Mondays through Thursdays with Fridays being remote-optional, all during normal business hours. Even though our office is currently closed to the public, we look forward to being able to welcome you back soon.

After working remotely to serve you for 68 weeks, we are grateful for the opportunity to be together again in-person. We are excited about everything we have been able to accomplish and, with your help, we are ready to tackle the challenges still in front of us.

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In collaboration with local designers UnderBelly, the Chamber launched “Greater Madison: Making the Difference” to tell the stories of area businesses that have taken extraordinary steps to solve the challenges posed by COVID-19.

We are currently highlighting AkitaBox, a Madison-based company that created a software solution that allows facilities managers to create clear cleaning and sanitizing protocols that factor in CDC and EPA recommendations and communicates those protocols so employees, customers, students and patients feel safe and confident in those spaces.

We previously highlighted the efforts of EpicDelve, Midwest Prototyping, UW–MadisonTeel PlasticsAmerican Family InsuranceCatalent and Nordic as part of this series. Stay tuned to The BEAM and our FacebookTwitter, LinkedIn and Instagram pages for more stories about businesses that are Making the Difference.

We encourage you to share these stories and support local leadership. If you have your own story to share, send it to Director of Business Development Nikki Javurek.

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The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has opened applications for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF), which was established by the American Rescue Plan Act to help restaurants, food stands, caterers, taverns, bakeries, breweries, wineries, distilleries and other eligible businesses stay open.

The RRF will provide restaurants with funding equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss up to $10 million per business and no more than $5 million per physical location. Recipients are not required to repay the funding as long as funds are used for eligible uses by March 11, 2023.

For full program details and to apply, click here.

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The U.S. Small Business Administration has launched a new round of Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) assistance called Supplemental Targeted Advances that will provide $5 billion in additional assistance to one million small businesses and nonprofits that have been most severely affected by pandemic. This is the latest SBA relief program to launch as part of the recently enacted American Rescue Plan Act.

The Supplemental Targeted Advance provides the smallest and hardest-hit eligible businesses with a supplemental payment of $5,000 that does not have to be repaid. Even if you have previously received the original EIDL Advance in the full amount of $10,000, you may be eligible for the Supplemental Targeted Advance if you meet eligibility criteria. The combined amount of the Supplemental Targeted Advance ($5,000) with any previously received EIDL Advance or Targeted EIDL Advance ($10,000) will not exceed $15,000.

The SBA has modified the Targeted EIDL Advance application process to determine if businesses also qualify for the additional Supplemental Targeted Advance. The SBA will contact eligible business entities to apply and applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. To qualify for the Supplemental Targeted Advance, an eligible business entity must be in a low-income community (see shaded areas below for Dane County communities that qualify), have suffered greater than 50 percent economic loss and have 10 or fewer employees.

For more details about the Targeted EIDL Advance and Supplemental Targeted Advance program, visit here.

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With previous technical issues now resolved, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has reopened the application portal for the $15 billion Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) Grant program. The program focuses relief for operators of live venues, live performing arts organizations, movie theaters and others and was included in the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act signed into law on Dec. 27.

Eligible applicants may qualify for SVO Grants equal to 45 percent of their gross earned revenue, with $10 million as the maximum amount available for a single grant award. Two billion dollars is reserved for eligible applicants with up to 50 full-time employees.

Funds may be used to cover expenses including payroll and administrative costs, rent and utility payments, and state and local taxes and fees. To be eligible, applicants must have been in operation as of Feb. 29, 2020 and not have received a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan on or after Dec. 27, 2020.

For additional SVO program details, including how to apply and what documentation you will need, click here.

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Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway have announced a new effort with Public Health Madison & Dane County to give licensed establishments including restaurants, hotels, and campgrounds a COVID-19 credit of more than $550,000 to help recover from the pandemic. This 30 percent credit will provide financial assistance to more than 3,500 qualifying establishments in Dane County.

Public Health sanitarians normally conduct annual inspections and provide ongoing consultation for these establishments, but sanitarians have been reassigned to support the COVID-19 pandemic response for much of the past year. They instead worked with businesses to prevent spread and help them implement safe practices for customers and employees.

Qualifying licenses are associated with food and drink establishments, tattoo and body piercing, hotels and tourist rooming houses, bed and breakfasts, swimming pools, campgrounds and recreational campgrounds. Operators in these categories must renew for the 2021-22 licensing year to receive the credit. School and temporary food establishment licenses are excluded from this funding.

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With businesses playing a critical role in encouraging widespread vaccination from COVID-19, the state has released new resources to assist businesses in continuing to contribute to the vaccination campaign.

Among the resources are guidance for effectively encouraging vaccination among employees, information about how to set up a workplace vaccination clinic, and links to posters that can be downloaded or adapted for posting in workplaces.

You can find guidance to help promote vaccination among employees here, a customizable PowerPoint presentation through this page, and information on how employers can raise awareness and connect employees with vaccination options here.

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Dane County Executive Joe Parisi has announced an additional $15 million for the county’s Small Business Pandemic Support Grant Program, which launched last year and is being administered by Dane Buy Local. Funds for the new grants were made available through the recently adopted federal stimulus legislation.

Funds are still being awarded from the $4 million allocation the county announced in January, which prompted more than 2,800 applications with an average grant request approaching $18,000. To date, the program has received more than $14 million to assist Dane County small businesses throughout the pandemic.

Apply here.

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President Joe Biden has signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act, which includes several new measures intended to assist businesses and individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some key provisions include:

— $350 billion worth of direct assistance for state, local, tribal and territorial governments;

— Stimulus checks for individuals and families;

— Additional small business assistance of $50 billion, including $25 billion for a Restaurant Revitalization Fund;

— Nearly $47.8 billion for testing and tracing, $7.5 billion for vaccine distribution and administration, and $7.6 billion for the public health workforce;

— $128.6 billion for emergency and secondary school emergency relief;

— $40 billion for childcare block grants to states;

— Nearly $50 billion for emergency rental assistance, homeowner assistance, housing vouchers, utility assistance and funding to prevent and address homelessness;

— $30.5 billion for transit;

— $8 billion for airports;

— An expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the child tax credit; and

— An extension of subsidies for government and nonprofit entities; and an expansion of paid sick and family leave tax credits for employers.

For questions about the American Rescue Plan Act and what it means for you and your business, visit and enter the event code #ASKBIZ (or simply click here to go directly to the page). You can also email questions to

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Gov. Tony Evers recently signed into law Special Session Senate Bill 1, which includes COVID-19 liability protections – retroactive to March 1, 2020 – for businesses, individuals and schools, a provision the Chamber supported. The bill overwhelmingly passed the Senate and Assembly last month.

Under the law, businesses, individuals and schools are not liable for “the death of or injury to any individual or damages caused by an act or omission resulting in or relating to exposure, directly or indirectly, to the novel coronavirus identified as SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 in the course of or through the performance or provision of the entity’s functions or services.” However, liability protections do not apply “if the act or omission involves reckless or wanton conduct or intentional misconduct,” such as intentional violation of public health orders.

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Thousands of Wisconsinites are being notified by the state Department of Workforce Development (DWD) about a new federal requirement that they must provide documentation to continue receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). The requirement was included in the federal Continued Assistance Act passed in late December.

Under the new law, the federal government requires that people seeking PUA benefits send proof of employment or self-employment (or planned start of employment or self-employment) for the year before their PUA application date. Anyone who fails to provide proof will be required to repay PUA benefits received for the week of Dec. 27, 2020, or later.

Acceptable forms of documentation include:

— Employment: Paycheck stubs, earnings and leave statements showing the employer’s name and address, and W-2 forms.

— Self-employment: Business licenses, tax returns, business receipts and signed affidavits from persons verifying the individual’s self-employment.

— Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, and educational/religious organizations: Documentation provided by the organization and signed affidavits from persons verifying the individual’s attachment to such organizations.

— Proof of the planned commencement of employment: Letters offering employment, statements/ affidavits by individuals (with name and contact information) verifying an offer of employment.

— Proof of the planned commencement of self-employment: Business licenses, written business plans or a lease agreement.

To submit the required proof of employment, claimants may now upload their documentation directly to their portal here. Individuals unable to upload documents may mail or fax them, with instructions included in the notice letter they receive.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently released guidance to employers on mitigating and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Separate guidance is applicable to healthcare and emergency response settings, and OSHA has additional industry-specific guidance.

This guidance contains recommendations, as well as descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards. Included are recommendations for implementation of workplace prevention programs in the workplace, as well as details relating to:

— Separating and sending home infected or potentially infected people;

— Implementing physical distancing;

— Installing barriers;

— Use of PPE; and

— Improving ventilation.

OSHA will update this guidance over time to reflect developments in science, best practices and standards. View the full guidance here.

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has released guidance to employers on how to report in-patient hospitalizations and deaths resulting from work-related cases of COVID-19, as well as the requirements for doing so.

Employers are only required to report in-patient hospitalizations to OSHA if the hospitalization “occurs within twenty-four (24) hours of the work-related incident.” Employers must report a fatality to OSHA “if the fatality occurs within thirty (30) days of the work-related incident,” and that fatality must be reported within eight hours of knowing both that the employee has died and that the cause of death was a work-related case of COVID-19.

Work-related COVID events can be reported by calling the nearest OSHA office, calling the OSHA 24-hour hotline at 1-800-321-OSHA (6742) or by electronic submission.

See the full OSHA reporting guidance here.

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Following the announcement by the City of MadisonMadison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) and United Way of Dane County that they were creating a Child Care Scholarship Fund, we called for employers, foundations and the community to donate to the fund to support Greater Madison families and help close the childcare gap.

Just days after the announcement, several organizations stepped up to give back. We are thankful for the leadership of American Family InsuranceM3 InsuranceMGE FoundationMadison-Kipp Corp.6AM MarketingGroup Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, UW–Madison and others who have contributed to date.

The Child Care Scholarship Fund has a goal of raising $400,000 to provide need-based scholarships for approximately 150 children to attend full-time childcare. This ambitious effort is an important foundation to build upon, but we will need more help to reach our collective goal.

To donate, click here.

Read Chamber President Zach Brandon’s column about the fund in the Wisconsin State Journal. Find additional coverage in the Cap Times here and an editorial from WISC-TV here.

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The Chamber recently released a Spanish-language version of the flyer for #JustAsk, a collaboration between the Chamber and Public Health encouraging people to feel comfortable inquiring about the steps businesses are taking to enhance their safety.

Along with balancing the needs of our health and the economy, bolstering public confidence is a critical component to reopening Greater Madison. In addition to participating in #JustAsk, businesses can also share reopening plans through this portal so we can aggregate best practices by industry type and socialize them with businesses and the broader community.

You can print and display the Spanish-language #JustAsk flyer here. The English version can be found here.

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As part of the Wisconsin Ready plan, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) is working to identify manufacturers to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other materials to businesses as they reopen. 

Businesses looking for PPE can search for masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and shields. Manufacturers of PPE can list themselves as a supplier by filling out a profile on the site.

Learn more here.

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The Chamber is continuing to advise all levels of government on the development of a public policy response to COVID-19.

We’re looking for immediate needs that will help employers and workers. Ideas have ranged from helping the newly unemployed with emergency unemployment insurance (UI) benefits; specific ways to help shuttered businesses; ways to help businesses with HR issues or health and safety concerns; or any additional challenges you are facing from COVID-19.

Ideas can be related to issues including funding, taxes, licensure, temporary loosening of some agency rules and more. Proposals will be shared with policymakers on an ongoing basis.

Fill out the form here.

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United Way of Dane County has a webpage devoted to providing information about opportunities to volunteer safely during this time of need. Opportunities include food deliveries, child care, serving meals, transporting needed supplies and much more.

Check out a list of volunteer options here.

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It is important that we continue to support local businesses to strengthen our economy and be there for our friends and neighbors. Here are just a few ways you can do so:

Tip well. Tip more if you are able to do so. Service workers make much of their living on tips, and your generosity can help make up for fewer people ordering food or buying services.

Keep those tickets. If you bought tickets for a local charitable or arts event that was later canceled, consider not asking for a refund, or tell the organization to keep the money you paid for your ticket as a donation.

Buy gift cards. Purchasing gift cards and gift certificates for yourself and others is a great way to support local businesses now while frequenting them at a later date.

Seek virtual options. You can browse and order items from local businesses, including many retailers, online as an alternative to in-person shopping.

Shop for friends, family and neighbors. When shopping, consider asking those who are vulnerable or less mobile if you can purchase anything for them.

Get delivery or takeout. Call restaurants directly or use an aggregated order and delivery service like Madison’s own EatStreet.

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We strongly encourage you to consult these helpful, regularly updated resources as you implement your business’s infectious disease emergency response (IDER) plans:

CDC: COVID-19 Main Page
CDC: Situation Summary
CDC: Resources for Businesses and Employers
CDC: General Business Frequently Asked Questions
CDC: Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers
CDC: Preventing Spread in Communities
CDC: Print Resources
DHS: COVID-19 Information
PHMDC: COVID-19 Main Page
City of Madison Civil Rights: Mask FAQ

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September 16, 2021 – UW Health Dr. Peter Newcomer
August 19, 2021 – Urban League President Dr. Ruben Anthony
August 12, 2021 – Matt Younkle, Alnisa Allgood and Forrest Woolworth
July 29, 2021 – DMI President Jason Ilstrup
July 22, 2021 – Airport Director Kim Jones
June 24, 2021 – One City Schools Founder and CEO Kaleem Caire
May 13, 2021 – Madison Common Council Leadership
May 5, 2021 – Public Health Madison & Dane County
April 22, 2021 – Deb Gilpin, Conor Caloia and Joel Plant
April 1, 2021 – Chancellors Rebecca Blank and Mark Mone
March 25, 2021 – Spring 2021 Business Survey
February 25, 2021 – MadREP President & CEO Jason Fields
February 11, 2021 – Public Health Madison & Dane County
January 21, 2021 – PHMDC Pandemic Operations Section Chief Doug Voegeli
January 7, 2021 – Madison College President Dr. Jack Daniels III
December 17, 2020 – Public Health Madison & Dane County
December 3, 2020 – United Way of Dane County President & CEO Renee Moe
November 19, 2020 – Destination Madison President & CEO Deb Archer and MadREP President Paul Jadin
November 12, 2020 – NAMI Dane County Executive Director Anna Moffit (presentation)
November 5, 2020 – UnityPoint Health – Meriter CEO Sue Erickson
October 8, 2020 – U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher
October 1, 2020 – 365Nation CEO Henry Sanders
September 16, 2020 – MMSD Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins
August 27, 2020 – SSM Health Wisconsin Regional President Damond Boatwright
August 20, 2020 – WISC-TV & Madison Magazine Editorial Director Neil Heinen
August 13, 2020 – Gov. Tony Evers and WI Tech Council President Tom Still
August 6, 2020 – Black Chamber President Camille Carter and Latino Chamber President Jessica Cavazos
July 23, 2020 – DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman
July 16, 2020 – Chancellor Rebecca Blank
July 9, 2020 – Public Health Madison & Dane County
June 11, 2020 – U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan
May 19, 2020 – County Executive Joe Parisi and Public Health Director Janel Heinrich
May 6, 2020 – MMAC President Tim Sheehy
April 29, 2020 – WEDC Secretary Missy Hughes
April 24, 2020 – UW Health CEO Dr. Alan Kaplan
April 17, 2020 – U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin
April 9, 2020 – SBA Wisconsin Director Eric Ness
April 2, 2020 – Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway

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