Wisconsin to expand its COVID-19 testing | WFRV Local 5

Emilee Geist

MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – Wisconsin will expand its COVID-19 testing as new cases continue to rise.

Governor Tony Evers, along with Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, highlighted the expansion of testing across the state.

This will include 71 new, free community testing sites that will be available in 56 counties and seven tribal nations. These sites, according to officials, have the capacity to test about 48,000 people each week.

According to the governor’s office, increasing access to testing for all Wisconsinites continues to be a major pillar of the statewide response plan.

“Testing is a critically important part of our state’s response to this pandemic, and we want to make it easier for those who need a test to get a test,” says Governor Evers. “Distance is one barrier that we can do something about, and one of the ways to address this issue is to offer testing in more places.”

The 71 testing sites are opening in October and will be available through December 10. Fifty six counties will host consistent COVID-19 testing sites while seven tribal nations will be either hosting or co-hosting community testing sites.

The new sites are intended to ensure consistent access to testing in all regions of the state. Each of the sites uses COVID Connect, the state’s online testing registration and result system, and each has the capacity to collect 300-400 tests a day.

“Testing plays a critical role in protecting our friends and family from further spread of the virus and helps us to understand disease activity around the state,” says Secretary-designee Palm. “If you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive, we encourage you to visit one of these testing sites, isolate away from others, and let your close contacts know they may have been exposed. Your efforts to keep those around you safe will help stop the spread.”

State officials say testing provides foundational information but is not enough to stop the spread. Actions taken after obtaining a test are the key to preventing further infections. These actions include quarantining while waiting for results, self-isolating and notifying contacts in the case of a positive result, and monitoring symptoms in the case of a negative result.

The testing sites will be staffed by Wisconsin National Guard citizen-soldiers with one local site manager per site.

National Guard personnel may also provide testing support for outbreaks and emerging needs throughout the state. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the National Guard has collected more than 700,000 tests and continues to enhance its testing capabilities. Last week, the community testing sites collected more than 45,000 tests and had a record-setting day on Tuesday, Oct. 27 with the collection of more than 11,000 tests.

“Citizen Soldiers and Airmen from the Wisconsin National Guard continue to step up when called to assist their communities in times of need,” says Maj. Gen. Paul Knapp. “Our troops have been continuously operating community-based testing sites since the early days of this pandemic, and we remain committed to serving our neighbors across Wisconsin with expanded testing efforts in the coming months.”

For a full list of testing sites, visit DHS’s website.

Gov. Evers dedicated more than $500 million in CARES funding to support Wisconsin’s testing efforts. CARES funding is set to expire at the end of December.

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