Evers allocates $1 billion in federal funding for COVID-19 testing, preparation for possible surge

Gov. Tony Evers
Gov. Tony Evers

Last updated on May 22nd, 2020 at 11:59 am

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers announced he is directing more than $1 billion in federal CARES Act funding to support statewide COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, emergency operations and supplies. 

The largest allocation of the funding, $445 million, is being directed to Wisconsin hospitals and communities to prepare for a potential surge of COVID-19 patients in the summer and fall as businesses reopen and normal activity resumes throughout the state, Evers said. 

Another $260 million is being directed to bolster statewide testing, along with an additional $75 million for contact tracing efforts. Increasing the state’s testing and contact tracing capacity are two key components of Evers’ Badger Bounce Back plan, which established gating criteria to reopen the economy prior to the state Supreme Court’s decision last week to overturn the state’s stay-at-home order. 

“As I’ve said before, regardless of the political overtones of the past week, we still know what we need to do to box in this virus and help keep people safe,” Evers said. “Our statewide approach to containing the spread of COVID-19 will continue with robust testing and contact tracing efforts in all corners of Wisconsin, resources that ensure our critical workers have the equipment they need to do their jobs safely, and direct investments in local communities and health providers. Wisconsin’s Safer At Home order may have ended, but our all-out war on this virus has not.”

The funding includes $202 million to provide COVID-19 test collection kits to hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, local public health department at no cost, with the goal of providing a test to anyone who needs one. Another $45 million will go to local public health departments, occupational health providers, home health agencies and health systems to conduct testing in congregate, community and occupational settings. As part of a testing pilot program, providers will receive $35 per test administered through Aug. 31 as an incentive. 

The funding will also provide $10 million to local public health departments to coordinate local testing efforts, and about $3 million to health departments to update their preparedness plans for testing in the fall. 

As part of the contact tracing effort, up to $50 million will be available to local public health departments to hire more staff to perform disease investigation, contact tracing and monitoring. The rest of the funding will support technology resources and hiring additional state staff to supplement local efforts. 

Another $150 million will be spent on personal protective equipment for health care providers and first responders, and $40 million is allocated for ventilator procurement.

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Lauren Anderson
Lauren Anderson covers health care, nonprofits, education and insurance for BizTimes. Lauren previously reported on education for the Waukesha Freeman. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she studied journalism, history and African studies. In her free time, Lauren enjoys spending time with family and friends and seeing live music wherever she can.

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