APPLETON, Wis. (WFRV) There has been nearly 5,000 COVID-19 related deaths in Wisconsin since the pandemic began and Appelton is taking a major step to help keep its residents healthy now that there’s a new strain of COVID-19.
Dr. Ashok Rai, President, and CEO at Prevea Health says, “Statistically the new strain of COVID-19 probably is here. We’re just trying to prove it, which means it’s really important for everybody to mask up, stay distant, and get tested.”
Now Appleton is opening larger COVID-19 testing at the Fox Cities Exhibition Center just as a new more contagious strain of COVID-19 has reached the US.
Dr. Rai says, “The largest concern about the UK variant, is the ability for it to spread so much faster. Now you have something that spreads without symptoms and then it even spreads it broader. so as we’re trying to get control of this in our environment. This makes it even harder to do.”
Cassidy Wallace, Appleton’s Emergency Management Coordinator says, “No matter what strain it’s very important for testing. It’s a critical component to the response to this pandemic.”
Appleton, like many cities, has had an increase in positive COVID-19 cases after the holidays.
Appleton’s Mayor Jake Woodford says, “We still have covid in the city of Appleton and so as long as we continue to have pandemic conditions in our communities, we need to make sure that we have testing resources available.”
By setting up this larger testing site indoors and in a central location city leaders hope this will encourage more people to know their status.
Wallace says, “We wanted to make sure that we were continuing with testing. We don’t know the burden rate without knowing what’s going on without tests.”
As the coronavirus mutates doctors warn testing is more important now than ever before since the general public probably won’t get vaccinated anytime soon.
Dr. Rai says, “The new strain is probably already is in Wisconsin. We just need to identify it. If we see a positive result that concerns us we can actually reswab that patient.”
Mayor Woodford says, “It’s a critical part of our response to covid. To make sure people know when they have it and then if they might have been exposed to it or exposed others. So having testing, free testing right here in our community is essential.”
The Fox Cities Exhibition testing center will be operational until March 10. City leaders also told Local 5 that the site would also be considered as a mass vaccination center in the future.
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