Over a dozen cars were patiently lined up Tuesday morning at the Burnett County Highway Shop. They were all waiting for a free COVID-19 test.
Those over the age of 5 “with current symptoms of fever, cough, loss of taste/smell, shortness of breath, sore throat, fatigue, body aches, diarrhea, vomiting or nausea, chills, shaking with chills, or muscle aches are eligible for nasal swab testing.”
The Burnett County Health Department and COVID-19 Response Team released a statement about the goal of the testing.
“We have two goals with this event: 1) Provide our communities with mass testing, allowing local healthcare providers more time to increase their testing capacity, and, 2) Give Public Health better insight into how much COVID-19 is in our communities. Following this event, we will continue to work closely with our local healthcare providers to continue building their capacity to meet patient demand.”
After the test was completed people were asked to go home and self-isolate until they receive their test results, they may also receive further guidance from Public Health at that point.
This testing is part of a coordinated effort with St. Croix Tribal Health and Human Services, Polk County and Burnett County working with the National Guard to get as many Wisconsin residents tested as needed to stop the spread of the virus.
At press time, the county was still reported zero confirmed lab cases and over 100 negative confirmed cases. Those numbers may change quite a bit over the next week, global trends show that when more people are tested more confirmed cases arise.
The tests were available to Wisconsin residents as of part Gov. Tony Evers plan to ramp up testing across the state.
“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.”
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.
Public Health Departments and the Wisconsin National Guard have scheduled 10 of these free COVID-19 testing opportunities throughout Western Wisconsin.
Testing will be available in Solon Springs, Ashland, Baldwin, River Falls, Eau Claire, Thorp and Ladysmith over the next week.
Evers’ office laid out his plan with drive thru testing in a press release.
Drive Thru 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.
“Taking our lab capacity from the ability to perform zero COVID-19 tests in early March to more than 11,000 tests per day now is one of our success stories here in Wisconsin,” said Gov. Evers. “But capacity is not the same as utilization, so we have some work to do to ensure everyone who needs a test is getting one and to understand the full scope of this disease around Wisconsin. The state has been working hard to support local health departments throughout this crisis and we’re pleased to announce these additional community testing events in northwest Wisconsin. I urge anyone who is experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 to go get tested at one of these events.”