State of Wisconsin making it easier to get tested for Coronavirus

NOW: State of Wisconsin making it easier to get tested for Coronavirus

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) - State health officials are making it easier to get tested for Coronavirus.

The Bureau of Communicable Diseases said Monday they are allowing doctors to decide who will get tested for COVID-19 without checking with the state first.

Its part of an effort to increase the number of people tested to help contain the spread.

“To know exactly when and where transmission is occurring, we need to test a lot more people than we have been,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard from the Bureau of Communicable Diseases.

“Our goal is to be more aggressive in finding cases and being able to respond when and if they are present in Wisconsin so we can prevent the spread,” said Dr. Westergaard.

They also announced that along with two state labs handling tests, there are now two commercial labs as well.

 “There is not backlog of tests and they are certainly ready to accept specimens and to be testing those in a timely fashion in Wisconsin,” said Tracy DeSalvo, Communicable Diseases Epidemiology Section Chief.

 “While we understand that the increase number of tests may seem alarming, tests don’t necessarily mean infections,” said Julie Willems Van Dijk, Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary.

They say if you feel symptoms like cough, shortness of breath and fever, and think you might need to be tested, call your doctor.

“You would want to let them know that you are coming in and that you’ve been exposed so that you can be appropriately masked when you come in and they health care providers can be wearing the appropriate PPE as well,” said DeSalvo.

Events with more than 10 people can spread the virus faster. Right now the state isn’t recommending canceling those events, they just want organizers to be ready.

“To have communication plans and think about the contingency under which they would cancel the event,” said Dr. Westergaard.

So far there have only been two cases in Wisconsin, and health officials say these steps will hopefully keep that number as low as possible. “There’s reason to be hopeful that the containment and mitigation strategies that communities are preparing for can keep the size of the epidemic as low as it can be,” said Dr. Westergaard.

About the cost, tests handled at state labs are done for free, your doctor can choose that option.  And the State of Wisconsin is also asking Wisconsin-based insurance companies to wave co-payments and deductibles related to COVID-19.

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