MADISON -- Gov. Tony Evers announced on Monday, May 4 a 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." Governor Evers outlined four key goals -- chief among them that everyone who needs a test to get a test. He also announced plans to test all residents and staff in the state's 373 nursing homes.
The announcement came on the eve of the Supreme Court of Wisconsin hearing over the "Safer at Home" extension.
"We have some work to do to make sure everyone who needs a test is getting one," said Governor Evers. "First, we will manage community outbreaks. Our second goal is to test every nursing home resident and staff member."
The third step is to increase drive-through community testing, and the fourth is to provide testing supplies to the state's health care facilities.
This, through a collaboration between the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin National Guard.
Gov. Evers indicated in a news release Monday 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 this program.
"I urge everyone who is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19, even mild symptoms, to go get tested," said Governor Evers. "You don't need referral from a doctor."
Below is more information from the governor's office on how these four key testing goals will be achieved:
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:
- Working with the Wisconsin National Guard and local health partners to conduct testing of all workers and families associated with employer outbreaks happening throughout WI.
- 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-thru 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.
Health care systems
- Providing test supplies available to all WI health care 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 health care system partners.
Meanwhile, officials said Monday final touches were being discussed for "Wisconsin Ready," part of the "Badger Bounce Back Plan." The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is working with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services to make "Wisconsin Ready" a resource for business owners -- to learn how to safely reopen in a time of social distancing.
"We are working with DHS to confirm they are good recommendations," said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of the WEDC. "It's a real challenge because you've built your business, and you've set it up in a certain way, and you put your heart and soul into it, and you want to make sure you do what is right."
DHS has released daily data about COVID-19 in Wisconsin, including:
- Summary data
- Case data
- Deaths data
- County-level data
- Hospital capabilities data
- Badger Bounce Back dashboard