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Evers plans for Wisconsin to be top in COVID-19 testing

Wisconsin is set to be one of the top states in testing per capita, in addition to already being one of the top states in COVID-19 testing capacity. Gov. Tony Evers shared May 4, 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. Across the state, 57 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, have requested, and are receiving, testing supplies from this 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 those goals include 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, and deploying rapid response teams to address employer and congregate care outbreaks.

It also provides 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.

Actions will also use a combination of public and private partners, to call nursing home facilities to coordinate supplies, logistics and test results, as well as increasing the number of free drive-through community tests sites throughout the state.

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

A website will also be set up 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, will also be available. No physician visit is required at the National Guard sponsored sites.

Healthcare systems will be provided test supplies, and 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.

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,” she said. “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, should contact their provider and get tested.