Wisconsin Continues Increasing Coronavirus Testing And Contact Tracing Capacity

May 20, 2020

The Wisconsin Emergency Operations Center and National Guard continue to increase testing and contact tracing capacity for the coronavirus.

Testing and tracing go hand-in-hand with promoting social distancing and taking other precautions at businesses and in public spaces, state Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said during a Tuesday briefing. That’s about a week after the state Supreme Court rejected Gov. Tony Evers’ safer-at-home order.

“We’re keeping one eye on how can we all work together to maintain physical distancing and good practices to avoid a huge surge, and then how do we set up the systems to be in place in case it happens,” Willems Van Dijk explains.

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The state has yet to reach full capacity for testing. Willems Van Dijk says that’s because, in part, in the early weeks of the pandemic, people were encouraged not to get tested unless they had symptoms or fell into certain risk groups. Now, some sites allow anyone to get tested.

Willems Van Dijk says the progress to box-in the coronavirus will require more testing, adding that even with negative test results, people shouldn’t assume they have immunity to the coronavirus. 

“We anticipate many people in our state will have multiple tests before the day we have vaccines and can assure immunity,” she says.

Willems Van Dijk believes contact tracing will also be a big part of slowing the spread, by having people self-isolate if they’ve been in contact with someone who has the virus.

The state has added additional bilingual contact tracers and plans to bring in more.

Editor's note: A portion of the audio is courtesy of WisconsinEye.

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