Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Monday the state is taking "big steps" to accelerate its COVID-19 testing capacity. Ramping up the state’s ability to test for the virus is critical to Wisconsin safely reopening its economy, officials have said.
"Testing is key to Wisconsin turning the dial on COVID-19 and reopening the state. With increased testing, Wisconsin gets a more accurate sense of the spread of the virus," Evers' statement said. "More testing also means improved contact tracing efforts, which help identify possible exposures to COVID-19."
As of Friday, there were 32 labs across the state running COVID-19 tests, with a collective daily capacity of 7,890, according to DHS. The state is slated to receive more than 250,000 additional test collection supplies in the coming weeks, Evers said. However, he said the state will need “federal partnership” to ensure an adequate supply of reagents and other critical supplies to sustain its expanded lab capacity. Evers said several public-private partnerships will provide more testing capacity in the coming days and weeks. Madison-based Exact Sciences Corp. is devoting a large portion of its lab capacity and resources to COVID-19 tests processing, allowing the company to provide the state with approximately 20,000 tests and processing each week. Fitchburg-based Promega Corp. is sourcing high demand reagents and materials for several labs in the state, including Exact Sciences’ lab, Evers said. This week, Marshfield Clinic Health System is ramping up to process 10,000 tests per week from providers around the state.Verona-based Epic Systems Corp. is also providing the “interoperability necessary to connect health care providers with Exact to ensure timely processing of tests and reporting of test results,” according to Evers' announcement. In the Milwaukee area, Wisconsin Diagnostic Labs at Froedtert Hospital is expanding its capacity and has provided support to Sixteenth Street Community Health Clinic’s drive-thru testing project, Evers said. Community Health Centers in Milwaukee is also partnering with Exact Sciences to test its patients, and plans to broaden its outreach, as capacity grows, to support access for others in the community who need testing. Over the weekend, tests were administered to all inmates and staff at the Milwaukee House of Correction to help control the outbreak there. Beginning today, two National Guard teams will staff standup specimen collection sites at Milwaukee Health Services Inc.’s clinics on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Silver Spring Road.Evers said the state is deploying2,200 test collection supplies and PPE to Green Bay in response to an outbreak with “significant risk potential” to the community. The state is also delivering 1,000 tests to Tribal health clinics. Get more news and insight in the March 30 issue of BizTimes Milwaukee. Subscribe to get updates in your inbox here.