Evers requests $17 million for local public health agencies

Local agencies increase contact tracing efforts after election

Voters lined up outside of Riverside University High School on Tuesday.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has requested $17 million in new funds for local public health agencies in the state as they work to bolster tracking of residents who may have been exposed to COVID-19 during Tuesday’s election.

In the past few weeks, DHS has added more than 120 contact tracers to help local health departments as they interview every confirmed COVID-19 patient about the people they have come into contact with. 

For the Milwaukee Health Department, contact tracing staff have followed up on more than 1,000 interviews to identify and notify people who have potentially been exposed to the virus. 

The need for contact tracing increased after voters and poll workers went to polling locations for in-person voting on Tuesday, DHS said. Public health officials expect to see any cases that resulted from exposure on April 7 to appear next week, but it could take several weeks before the state sees the full impact of in-person polling on the spread of COVID-19, DHS said. 

“Contact tracing is a critical tool in our ability to effectively manage COVID-19 now and moving forward,” said DHS secretary-designee Andrea Palm. “We will continue this important work to ensure that every case is followed up on, contacted, and anyone who may have been exposed notified. We hope the extraordinary efforts taken by local clerks, public health, voters, and poll workers helped minimize any transmission but we stand prepared to respond if that isn’t the case.”

In addition to more funds, Evers has requested 64 additional DHS staff in his proposed legislative package. 

There were 3,068 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 128 deaths in Wisconsin as of Friday afternoon.

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