All Wisconsin nursing home residents, employees to be tested under plan to increase testing per capita

Coronavirus

FILE – In this April 20, 2020, file photo, members of the Los Angele Fire Department wear protective equipment as they conduct a new coronavirus test on a woman, left, in the Skid Row district in Los Angeles. The city of Los Angeles will offer free coronavirus testing to all residents regardless of whether they have symptoms. Until now tests were reserved for those with symptoms and frontline employees like health care and grocery store workers. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)

MADISON, Wis. (WFRV) – Governor Tony Evers has announced 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 coronavirus testing capacity.

According to the governor, Wisconsin is prepared to provide 85,000 coronavirus tests per week, ensuring that everyone in the state in need of a test receives a test. Health officials say Wisconsin has provided over 60,000 tests to hospitals, clinics, local public health, long term care facilities, and other community partners. Of the state’s 72 counties, 57 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 Gov. 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.”

There are four key testing goals in the Badger Bounce Back Plan:

  • 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

According to Gov. Evers, there are numerous key actions to achieve these goals. They 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, like the Resch Center opening for those connected to specific infrastructures.

Gov. Evers says another key action includes providing free testing and diagnostics to all of Wisconsin’s 373 nursing homes to test all residents and staff with the goal of testing more than 10,000 residents and staff per week during the month of May. This requires using a combination of public and private partners to call nursing home facilities to coordinate supplies, logistics, and test results.

State officials are working to increase the number of free drive thru community testing sites. Fifteen additional National Guard units will be mobilized to assist local public health in setting up testing sites and responding to outbreaks. This will bring the number of mobilized units to 25. No physician visit is required at the National Guard sponsored sites, which offer free tests to those experiencing symptoms with results going to patients and local public health.

Another key factor is providing test supplies available to all Wisconsin healthcare systems. 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, according to Gov. Evers.

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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.”

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