Officials Want Physicians To Request More COVID-19 Tests
Testing capacity is more than triple what's being requested. Officials want doctors to test more people.
Despite the fact COVID-19 testing capacity has doubled across Wisconsin in the past week, the number of tests performed has not.
State and local officials would like to see that change as part of a multi-pronged strategy to combat the disease.
“We are certainly working hard to make sure that providers understand that there is capacity in the system,” said Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm on Thursday during a media briefing. DHS announced a loosening of restrictions last week. Individuals previously needed to show signs of a respiratory illness and require hospitalization or work in healthcare to get priority access to a test. Now any individual believed to have the disease and for whom a diagnosis would be beneficial can be tested. “We are not living in a world where we need to be quite so restrictive,” said Palm.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett would welcome more clustered testing in Milwaukee. He noted that there are census tracts on the north side of the city that have more than 30 cases, a total larger than most Wisconsin counties. He said targeted testing in those areas could provide more data and allow public health officials to isolate those with the disease.
“The more widespread we can have that testing, that isolation, that contact tracing, the quicker we will be able to lift this order,” said Barrett.
Barrett and Palm’s push is supported by Greenfield Health Officer Darren Rausch. “To do the work of controlling COVID well, the next step we need to take is to really increase testing,” said the public health expert during a Milwaukee County press briefing.
Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer at the DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases,” said there are other reasons more people should be tested for COVID-19. He said the seasonal spread of influenza, another respiratory illness, is fading. “Mild patients in outpatient settings can now be tested,” said Westergaard. He said he expects more tests to be done in the coming weeks.
An average of 1,505 people per day were tested in Wisconsin over the past week, Palm said, but as of Thursday, the state has the capacity to test 7,578 samples per day.
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