National Guard assists at COVID-19 testing sites

A member of the Wisconsin National Guard puts on personal protective equipment before safely collecting specimens in Lancaster on April 25. Members of the Wisconsin National Guard help Grant County Health Department and Orchard Manor staff screen for COVID-19 by conducting specimen collection for residents and staff at the long-term-care facility in Lancaster. 

MADISON —​ Everyone who needs a COVID-19 test will be able to get one, Gov. Tony Evers said on Monday, May 4, when announcing the state's plan to make Wisconsin one of the top states in testing per capita, in addition to already being one of the top states in COVID-19 testing capacity.

Evers said that Wisconsin is prepared to provide 85,000 COVID-19 tests per week, ensuring that everyone in the state who needs a test receives a test. To date, the state has provided over 60,000 tests to hospitals, clinics, local public health, long-term care facilities, and other community partners.

Fifty-seven of Wisconsin’s 72 counties have requested and are receiving testing supplies from the program.

“We’ve made great progress in expanding our testing capacity these last few weeks, and now we’re taking the next step to ensure our tests performed match our capacity,” said Evers. “Everyone in the state that needs a test should be tested, and through the Badger Bounce Back Plan, we’re taking a comprehensive approach to make sure that’s the case.”

The Badger Bounce Back Plan features four key testing goals:

> Respond to every employer, corrections, and congregate care outbreak.

> Test every nursing home resident and staff member.

> Establish community testing programs for symptomatic individuals in target communities.

> Ensure everyone who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms gets a test.

Key actions to achieve these goals include the following.

Community outbreaks

Working with the Wisconsin National Guard and local health partners to conduct testing of all workers and families associated with employer outbreaks happening throughout Wisconsin.

Deploying rapid response teams to address employer and congregate care outbreaks.

Long-term care facilities

Providing free testing and diagnostics to all of Wisconsin’s 373 nursing homes to test all nursing home residents and staff, with the goal of testing more than 10,000 residents and staff per week during the month of May.

Using a combination of public and private partners to call nursing home facilities to coordinate supplies, logistics, and test results.

Drive-through community testing

Increasing the number of free drive-through community tests sites throughout the state.

Mobilizing 15 additional National Guard units to assist local public health in setting up testing sites and responding to outbreaks, bringing the total number of units to 25.

Establishing a website for the public to find the closest community testing site.

Providing free tests for state-sponsored test sites to those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, with results going to patients and local public health. No physician visit is required at the National Guard sponsored sites.

Healthcare systems

Providing test supplies available to all WI healthcare systems through https://covid19supplies.wi.gov/Testing.

Supplies and laboratory services are available for testing symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals based on clinical guidelines established by the organization requesting the materials.

To date, the state has provided 41,255 tests to healthcare system partners.

Expanded testing

Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said the expanded testing is critical to reopening the state.

“To turn the dial in Wisconsin, we have to test everyone with symptoms,” said DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “From there, we move to contact tracing and getting those exposed to the virus in quarantine. Anyone with symptoms that include cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell, please call your provider and get tested.”

(Copyright © 2020 APG Media)

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