Wisconsin public health officials announced Monday during a press conference the state is stepping up its testing for COVID-19, and doctors will no longer need state approval to order a test.
According to press releases from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the second and third cases of coronavirus in the state were confirmed Monday and Tuesday respectively. The fourth, fifth and sixth were confirmed Wednesday. All residents were exposed to the virus while travelling domestically and all but one are currently isolated at home.
Of the three Wednesday cases, two come from Fond Du Lac county and one comes from Waukesha county, according to the DHS release.
According to the DHS press conference, the state hygiene lab in Madison and the Milwaukee Health Department both received materials from the Centers for Disease Control last week to carry out in-house tests for COVID-19.
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In addition — according to the DHS spokesperson Jennifer Miller in an email to the Herald — several commercial and clinical labs in the state have also offered testing services.
Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk said during the press conference DHS has asked insurance providers to waive fees for coronavirus tests so people don’t feel there is a financial barrier to get tested.
Chief Medical Officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases in the state Department of Health Services Dr. Ryan Westergaard said during a press conference the two commercial labs are Quest and LabCore.
Westergaard said the addition of labs was to support the state’s stepped-up efforts to locate new cases and identify more information related to when and where possible transmissions have occurred. These labs will conduct the tests and send the results to the DHS.
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“We need to test a lot more people than we have been,” Westergaard said. “Given the number of new cases in our region and nationally, we would not be surprised to find new cases in Wisconsin in the next week or so.”
Moreover, no longer requiring approval from the state, doctors in Wisconsin can now use their own judgement to decide whether a patient would need a test for COVID-19 or not. But the DHS still requires the health care provider to report the number of COVID-19 tests ordered and test results to the state.