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The Latest: Wisconsin companies accused of price gouging

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Sixteen companies in Wisconsin have been sent cease and desist letters from the state's consumer protection agency for allegedly gouging prices on everything from toilet paper to surgical masks, cleaning wipes to limes.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection said Wednesday that it has sent the letters to companies including Menards, Walgreens, Wal-Mart and Ace Hardware. A letter also went to for allegedly price gouging for N95 masks, which are in short supply and critical for health care workers dealing with COVID-19 patients.

Other items that stores allegedly inflated the prices for included bleach, water, cookies, milk, pinto beans, watermelon and hand cleaner.

The consumer protection agency said it received dozens of complaints at over a hundred stores across the state. Consumers can report companies suspected of price gouging on the agency's website or submit a complaint by email.

10:30 a.m.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul is leading a coalition of 16 attorneys general in urging President Donald Trump to use the Defense Production Act to boost production of masks and respirators in the fight against COVID-19.

Kaul says healthcare workers, law enforcement and other first responders "need resources now." The Democratic attorney general says Trump must act now and use his broad power to address shortages in critical supplies.

Trump has balked at using his authority under the recently invoked Defense Protection Act to compel the private sector to manufacture masks and ventilators, even as he encourages them to spur production.

8:05 a.m.

The City of Green Bay has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Tony Evers and other state officials to delay the April 7 spring election and move voting to mailed ballots due to concerns about spreading the new coronavirus.

WLUK-TV reports the lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court asks a judge to order state officials to mail ballots to all registered voters.

It also asks the judge to extend the deadline for voter registration to May 1 and give local clerks a June 2 deadline for counting mailed ballots.

Gov. Evers has said he would not move the election and has encouraged voters to request absentee ballots online.

Last week, the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic Party asked a federal judge in Madison to extend absentee voting.

COVID-19 has sickened more than 450 people in Wisconsin and killed five.

6:30 a.m.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has canceled all Holy Week and Easter Masses because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.

Archbishop Jerome Listecki has sent a letter to pastors and parish directors citing the risk that parishioners could infect the vulnerable members of the congregation.

Listecki is encouraging Catholics to continue to watch streamed Masses on the internet.

WTMJ-AM reports the archbishop says confirmations and first communions are postponed until further notice.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

President Donald Trump said Tuesday he is hoping the United States will be reopened by Easter and that he already looking toward easing the advisories that have sidelined workers, shuttered schools and led to an economic slowdown.

AP-WF-03-25-20 1658GMT

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