Testing and contact tracing for COVID-19 will be increasing across Wisconsin. Both are vital elements of any plan to re-open the state’s economy, including that from the Evers’ administration.

Julie Willems Van Dijk is Deputy Secretary of the state Department of Health Services. “The most important thing for the residents of Wisconsin to know is that we are increasing testing, and that anyone with symptoms should contact their health care provider and asked to be tested,” she said during a media conference on Tuesday with Adjutant General Paul Knapp.

Clinics are now being asked to test every patient with coronavirus symptoms.

“Clinics that would typically counsel people to take care of symptoms at home so they don’t bring infections into the clinic, are now being asked to change from an individual health focus, Willems Van Dijk said. “And that means bringing in more people to test.”

Wisconsin is currently able to conduct about 11,000 coronavirus tests across 48 labs, but is not using all that capacity.

Contact tracing is also critical, with a goal of one thousand contact tracers between DHS and local health departments. “I like to say this is like contact tracing on steroids,” she said. “We need to both increase the number of people who are doing this, and we anticipate as we test with much larger numbers, it will exceed the capacity of local health departments. And that’s where the state stands ready to assist them in these efforts.”

Tuesday saw Wisconsin’s COVID-19 deaths increase by 19 since Monday. That’s the largest one-day increase since April 4, and brings total statewide deaths to 300. One of those deaths was in Brown County, where the state’s fastest-growing coronavirus outbreak is linked to three meatpacking plants.

Department of Health Services numbers also include the first death from Monroe County. There have been 6,289 positive test results and 1,456 hospitalizations. The largest numbers of deaths and confirmed cases – 174 and 2,722 – have been in Milwaukee County.



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