Tests requested as COVID-19 hospitalizations increase in Wisconsin
COVID-19 tests have increased across Wisconsin after steep drops this spring. But some infectious disease doctors say more testing is needed in light of the more contagious delta variant and hospitalizations in the state reaching levels not seen since February.
Anyone potentially exposed to the virus should get tested, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes people who are fully vaccinated. The agency is also advising everyone, including those who have been vaccinated, to wear a mask in areas of high transmission.
But large community testing and vaccination sites that operated statewide during much of the pandemic have closed, leaving people to depend on public health departments, doctors’ offices, pharmacies and schools for testing.
People who have symptoms of COVID-19 such as cough, runny nose, sore throat, fever, or loss of taste or smell, or people who are traveling should be tested for COVID-19. according to current CDC and Wisconsin Department of Health Services guidelines. .
“It is good for a patient with symptoms to know whether or not it is COVID, so that they know whether to quarantine and let others know they may have infected,” said Dr. Dan Shirley, infectious disease specialist at UW Health. “The other important thing is just how much COVID-19 there is in our state.”
Over the past two weeks, the number of COVID-19 tests conducted statewide has ranged from around 12,000 to over 20,000. Although this is an increase from a decrease by Compared to early summer, when cases were lower, it’s nowhere near the daily number of tests performed at the peak of the pandemic last fall.
“And so that suggests a certain level of under-testing. I think part of that is because frankly people are tired of COVID and don’t want to go out and get tested,” said Dr Ben Weston, director. from Milwaukee County Medical Services. Office of Emergency Management and Associate Professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Where to get tested for COVID-19
Drugstore chains like CVS and Walgreens are offering COVID-19 testing. Walgreens offers drive-thru testing for people ages 3 and older, according to its website which states that three types of tests are available: a rapid diagnostic test that produces results in less than 24 hours; a PCR test which takes longer because it has to be sent to a laboratory; or an antigen test that can produce results in as little as an hour.
Independent pharmacies in Wisconsin also offer testing. Hometown Pharmacy offers COVID-19 testing in 11 locations.
In addition, DHS will send a do-it-yourself COVID-19 test kit to your home. There is no cost and you do not need to have any symptoms to obtain the saliva based PCR test which must be observed by a licensed healthcare practitioner and can be performed via ZOOM.
Wisconsin schools will also offer voluntary testing for students, families, teachers and staff this fall as part of a program announced by the state’s health department in June.
The Rock County Public Health Department says several local school districts have been connected to labs through the school testing program. Overall, there has been a slight increase in testing locally, according to the department which is also exploring partnerships to increase testing capacity locally.
DHS has a map showing where to find testing sites in your area.