Chuck Quirmbach

Innovation Reporter

Chuck Quirmbach joined WUWM in August 2018 as Innovation Reporter, covering developments in science, health and business.

Prior to that, he worked for Wisconsin Public Radio in Milwaukee and Madison, covering the environment, energy, and Milwaukee news of statewide interest.

He is a graduate of the UW-Madison.

Ways to Connect

Chuck Quirmbach

People with slow or no internet at their home or workplace may be able to briefly tap into free, wireless broadband internet service just outside public buildings. 

The Public Service Commission (PSC) and Department of Public Instruction recently created an online map of about 650 emergency internet locations in Wisconsin. The PSC also set-up a help-line to answer any questions.

Chuck Quirmbach

Business groups are urging state lawmakers to support a private sector proposal aimed at a quicker loosening of restrictions for some Wisconsin businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Tony Evers wants his safer-at-home order to stay into effect until at least May 26. But Thursday, a Republican-controlled legislative committee heard seven hours of testimony from firms and organizations that back a Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) plan that could allow more business openings next week.

Chuck Quirmbach

Gov. Tony Evers says he'd like to dramatically increase testing for COVID-19 in Wisconsin. That way health officials can get a better idea of the spread of the disease and when the number of new cases might be declining.

There's a long way to go to reach the state's recently expanded capacity of 11,000 COVID-19 tests per day. The Department of Health Services (DHS) says only about one-fourth of the capacity is being used. But new testing sites are opening.

Chuck Quirmbach

State of Wisconsin officials are providing some details of a plan to contact more people who have tested positive for COVID-19, and even contacting people as they take the COVID-19 test, before results are in. But some Milwaukee-area health officials appear to question part of the proposal.

Contact tracing, health officials say, can help determine how people contracted COVID-19 and learn with whom people connect as a way to potentially reduce the spread of the disease.

Chuck Quirmbach

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has relaxed more restrictions on what the state calls nonessential businesses. But medical experts say it'll be a long time before businesses and customers see things returning to a pre-COVID-19 normal.

Chuck Quirmbach

Some Wisconsin people with disabilities are raising concerns about their health during the COVID-19 pandemic. But the Trump administration says federal money coming to the state should provide some help.

One state resident speaking up is Kristi Scheunemann of Watertown. She was born with spina bifida, which affects her spinal cord. She also has breathing problems and uses a wheelchair. Scheunemann said COVID-19 has cut back the number of caregivers who come to her home, and the caregivers who do come don't have enough personal protective equipment.

Chuck Quirmbach

Wisconsin National Guard members have not been immune from catching COVID-19, but the number of positive cases are low, Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp said Wednesday.

During a media briefing, Wisconsin's Adjutant General said, "Of the handful that we have had, the majority of them were not Guard members who were actively serving in response to COVID-19. Those are Guard members who have not been called up, and were basically working at their civilian jobs or at their homes out in the community."

Chuck Quirmbach

Republican Vice President Mike Pence is praising some Wisconsin union workers and offering optimism about the COVID-19 pandemic. But Democrats say the Trump administration is falling short on help for the state.

On Tuesday, Pence toured a GE Healthcare plant in Madison that has dramatically increased production of ventilators in recent weeks. Those machines help people with severe breathing problems, including many COVID-19 patients.

>>Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus Coverage

Chuck Quirmbach

On Monday, Dr. Dave Lal donated plasma for the third time in recent weeks at the Versiti Blood Center of Wisconsin in downtown Milwaukee.

Lal sat quietly in a recliner as a machine called an automated blood collection system took blood and its liquid component plasma out of his body, before returning the blood cells.

>>Latest WUWM & NPR Coronavirus News

Courtesy of Tony Evers

Updated on Thursday at 1:21 p.m. CT  

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has signed major state legislation responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s action Wednesday came just a few hours after the state Senate approved a measure the Assembly passed on Tuesday.

Courtesy of WisEye

Updated at 1:10 p.m. CT  

The Wisconsin Senate passed a legislative response to the coronavirus pandemic on Wednesday. The state Assembly easily passed the package Tuesday, which includes more than 50 provisions related to health care and the economy. But as is typical in the Wisconsin Legislature, there are some controversial items. 

Chuck Quirmbach

More than 300,000 people have filed for unemployment in Wisconsin in recent weeks. Gov. Tony Evers, like most other governors, has placed limits on many business operations to try to slow the spread of the coronavirus. One state projection says the Wisconsin unemployment rate could eventually hit 27%.

Chuck Quirmbach / WUWM

For this Bubbler Talk, we look into health care services for non-COVID-19 patients. A listener reached out to WUWM to tell us her health care provider had canceled her surgery, leaving her in pain.

The Wisconsin Hospital Association and individual health care outlets have talked about delaying elective or non-essential surgery to save resources for patients with the coronavirus. Medical groups say they don’t make the decision lightly, and it’s based on a team review of patients.

Courtesy of Dwayne Schlund

State officials say there are about 1,200 ventilators across Wisconsin and the state has plans to acquire  as many as 10,000 more. The aim is to provide breathing assistance for some patients with serious COVID-19 symptoms.

This week, it was even announced that the Foxconn corporation may start making the machines at its manufacturing facility being built in Racine County.

Chuck Quirmbach

Some of the people who voted in Wisconsin Tuesday say they took a health risk to exercise their right to cast a ballot. And, some medical experts say they worry that all the in-person voting may lead to a setback in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic in Wisconsin.

One of those voters is Cheryl Pease. Outside the only polling place in Waukesha, she told WUWM: "I had a heart attack two months ago.  I have psoriasis throughout my body. So, I’m compromised, so I shouldn’t be out here. But, [I’m] doing my American duty."