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The Network Effect
The Chamber has a virtual portal for employers to submit questions relating to COVID-19 and its impact on business. Submit questions by visiting Slido.com and entering the event code #ASK4BIZ (or simply click here to go directly to the page). Questions can also be submitted via email at ask@madisonbiz.com. Responses are posted at madisonbiz.com/covid19faq.

Good evening --

Here are the latest updates on our organizational efforts to inform and ensure an effective community response to COVID-19.

Today's highlights include how new CDC mask guidelines may impact the Dane County order, how a Greater Madison-based software company is Making the Difference and a recap of our latest Virtual Industry Meeting.

PUBLIC HEALTH MASK UPDATE

With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) having released updated guidance saying those who are fully vaccinated can go without masks in most places and situations, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services late last week agreed, saying the updated guidance "solidifies our confidence in COVID-19 vaccines and reflects the effectiveness of vaccines in preventing the spread of disease."

The Dane County mask order remains in effect, but Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) says they are reevaluating their existing orders and planning to share an update tomorrow, May 18. Since PHMDC has been following the CDC, our hope and expectation is the next health order will align with this updated guidance. Dane County is the last county in the Greater Madison region with a mask mandate still in place.

This news comes as Dane County continues to lead the state – and all large counties nationwide – in vaccination rate: 63 percent of residents have received at least one dose, and 54 percent are fully vaccinated. As of May 13, Dane County's daily COVID-19 case average is at its lowest level since August 2020.

When PHMDC releases any updates to its existing orders, look for a Chamber Advocacy Alert with full details and analysis.

For more coverage of this issue, check out the Wisconsin State Journal and WISC-TV.

MAKING THE DIFFERENCE

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. 

This week, we are 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 Insurance, Catalent and Nordic as part of this series. Stay tuned to The BEAM and our Facebook, Twitter, 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.

VIRTUAL INDUSTRY MEETING RECAP

Last week, the Chamber hosted the latest in our Virtual Industry Meeting (VIM) series, as leaders in construction and design assessed their current needs and future projections.

For the most part, participants said their teams are back in the office, though some are exploring potential remote or hybrid work opportunities in the future. They said they are encouraging vaccinations for their teams, with several saying they have a majority or even 100 percent vaccinated. Much of their capital expenditures have been around improving ventilation systems, something they said has been a significant interest for many clients, as well.
 
Several attendees said work has been steady and they are excited to see a strong incoming flow of requests for proposals. All voiced concern at the rising price of certain materials – including drywall, lumber and metal – and how those increased costs can pose a hurdle to project completion. Others said they are looking to solve challenges around hiring and finding new ways to incentivize work.

The Chamber has also convened lenders, manufacturers, developers and commercial property owners, hoteliers, retailers, business membership organizations, and leaders in the non-profit sector, banking and finance, healthcare, health and wellness, legal and accounting services, education, child care, insurance, technology, biotech, healthtech, arts, culture, entertainment and sports 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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For a full archive of previously shared resources, visit madisonbiz.com/covid19.

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