Gov. Evers announces Wisconsin making strides to increase coronavirus testing


FILE – In this Wednesday, March 11, 2020 file photo, a technician prepares COVID-19 coronavirus patient samples for testing at a laboratory in New York’s Long Island. Wide scale testing is a critical part of tracking and containing infectious diseases. But the U.S. effort has been plagued by a series of missteps, including accuracy problems with the test kits the CDC sent to other labs and bureaucratic hurdles that slowed the entrance of large, private sector labs. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – Governor Tony Evers says Wisconsin is “taking big steps to increase COVID-19 testing capacity throughout the state.”

In a Monday release, Gov. Evers announced Wisconsin now has 36 labs working to process coronavirus tests, up from just eight a month ago. He goes on to explain that the state plans to continue public-private patnerships to add more labs and increase testing capacity.

Despite this, Gov. Evers says Wisconsin will need federal partnership to ensure availability or reagent and other critical supplies in Wisconsin.

“Testing is key to Wisconsin turning the dial on COVID-19 and reopening the state. With increased testing, Wisconsin gets a more accurate sense of the spread of the virus,” Gov. Evers says in the release. “More testing also means improved contact tracing efforts, which help identify possible exposures to COVID-19.”

According to the governor, there are plans in place to greatly accelerate testing in the state this week, including 11 National Guard teams serving a rapid response role in hotspots and underserved areas of the state will collect specimens for coronavirus testing.

The National Guard began using 1,100 Exact Sciences test supplies to offer testing to all inmates and staff at the Milwaukee House of Correction to control an outbreak there.

On Monday, two National Guard teams will also be staffing standup specimen collection sites at Milwaukee Health Services Inc.’s clinics.

Gov. Evers say the state is working with Tribal partners to ensure that their communities receive testing they need. Starting this week, Gov. Evers say 1,000 tests will be delivered per week to Tribal health clinics.

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Exact Sciences, headquartered in Madison, is reportedly devoting a significant portion of its lab capacity and resources to coronavirus tests processing, enabling them to provide Wisconsin with about 20,000 tests and processing each week that will be distributed to health care systems throughout the state.

Marshfield Clinic Health System will also be working on ramping up to process 10,000 tests per week from providers around the state. According to Gov. Evers, “2,200 test collection supplies and PPE are headed to Green Bay in response to an outbreak with significant risk potential to the community.”

In partnership with Exact Sciences and the Community Health Centers in Milwaukee, the state is supporting additional testing capacity. The Health Centers will work first with their patients, and as additional capacity becomes available, will broaden their outreach to support access to testing for others in need. Community Health Centers have networks within the community and with other social service organizations and will work through those channels to support additional testing.

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Wisconsin Diagnostic Labs provided much-appreciated support to the 16th Street Community Health Clinic drive-thru testing project. They’re also expanding their capacity and offering help to clinical partners experiencing challenges with access to lab capacity.

Through additional procurement efforts by the state, Wisconsin will be receiving over 250,000 additional test collection supplies in the coming weeks.

Gov. Evers is scheduled to be joined by other state officials on Monday at 1:30 p.m. for a briefing regarding the state’s response to the coronavirus. You can watch the full briefing live here.


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