COVID news: IRS check scammers, disaster relief, Evers’ new order

    A cyclist passes a
    A cyclist passes a "Health Advisory" sign on March 18, 2020 in Miami Beach, Florida. Miami Beach city officials closed the area of the beach that is popular with college spring breakers and asked them to refrain from large gatherings where COVID-19 could spread. (Photo by Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images)

    Federal disaster relief request for Wisconsin

    Via the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Evers asked the president to issue a major disaster declaration for the entire state of Wisconsin (including federally recognized tribes) as a result the COVID-19 pandemic.

    “The response to this outbreak has caused multiple deaths, exhausted many of our resources, resulted in record unemployment claims and taken a toll on the community infrastructure that is in place to protect the public,” Evers said. “We need federal assistance to help rebuild those critical safety nets and ensure they remain strong.” 

    His letter to FEMA requested help from the following programs: Public Assistance, Direct Assistance, Hazard Mitigation (statewide), and certain Individual Assistance programs; Crisis Counseling, Community Disaster Loans and the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Program.


    Scam warning: IRS checks

    Department of Revenue Secretary Peter Barca put out a warning directed at Wisconsin residents that are waiting for stimulus checks from the Internal Revenue Service, dictated as part of the $2.2 trillion federal relief package known as the CARES Act.

    A DOR release said that scammers seeking to gain personal information to use in identity theft are trying to defraud taxpayers  by telling them they need to reveal personal information to get their check. 

    “The IRS will never call, text, or email you to ask for personal or banking information, and neither will the Wisconsin Department of Revenue,” said Barca.

    He adds straightforward advice — although it sounds a bit like a line from a Taylor Swift break-up song: “If you get an email asking for personal information, don’t respond.  If you get a call asking for it, hang up. If you get a text, delete it.” 

    Emergency order on Children & Families

    Tuesday morning Gov. Tony Evers issuing Emergency Order #18, which suspends state rules that have dates and deadlines related to programs run by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF). 

    A release from his office stated that to provide the “safest possible care for children in out-of-home care” local agencies had to make decisions on services within a certain window of time, which is being waived. “Due to the heightened risk of exposure caused by additional face-to-face interactions, this flexibility allows local agencies to make decisions based on the best interest of the child,” read the release. It also waives a deadline for in-person training for new employees in W-2 agencies.

    This is the second order tied to DCF programs since Evers declared a public emergency on March 12. Emergency Order #3 waived certain requirements for out-of-home care, child care and child-support programs.

    Help is available

    Here is a link to the Wisconsin state government’s round-up of COVID-19 related news. 

    HELP line: If COVID-19 news is causing you emotional distress and you need someone to communicate with, call the toll-free, multilingual and confidential SAMHSA Disaster Helpline, a crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to any natural or human caused-disaster in the United States.

    • 1-800-985-5990
    • Text TalkWithUs to 66746


    Melanie Conklin
    Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.