Wisconsin Department of Health Services Provides Guidance on COVID-19 Testing Criteria
FOR ANTIGO TIMES
The Department of Health Services (DHS) recently announced that due to a national shortage of COVID-19 laboratory testing materials, the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH) and the Milwaukee Health Department Laboratory (MHDL) are limiting testing to the highest priority patients and health care workers
Although both laboratories have significantly increased their capacity for COVID-19 testing, the number of samples being received exceeds daily capacity. Both laboratories will be testing high-priority samples from hospitalized patients and health care workers 7 days a week for the foreseeable future. Test requests that do not meet the criteria will be sent to other labs in the state and country for testing.
With the increased number of COVID-19 cases reported nationally and identified community spread in Wisconsin, health care providers are urged to prioritize testing for hospitalized patients for whom timely diagnosis of COVID-19 is critical. Testing should be prioritized based on clinical criteria. There is no role for testing asymptomatic patients.
“In an effort to maintain capacity and make better use limited of supplies, and because anyone travelling outside of the country is already being asked to self-isolate for 14 days, we’re prioritizing individuals with symptoms, healthcare providers, and hospitalized patients with symptoms, said Meghan Williams, Health Officer, Langlade County Health Department. “Prioritizing testing also assures that Langlade County Health Department can manage the caseload and follow-up of the most critical patients as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
Testing is not recommended for people with mild, upper respiratory symptoms, or those with mild illnesses for which they would not normally seek medical care. It is recommended that these individuals self-isolate at home until their symptoms improve.
Information for healthcare providers on testing guidance and an updated, required triage form are available on the DHS COVID-19 website.
In order to slow the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers has issued a Safer at Home order that prohibits all nonessential travel and urges individuals in the State of Wisconsin to stay at home or their place of residence until 8 a.m. on April 24, 2020, or a superseding order is issued. Individuals do not need special permission to leave their homes, but they must comply with this order as to when it is permissible to leave home.
The public should follow simple steps to prevent illness and avoid exposure to this virus including:
- Avoid social gatherings with people of all ages (including playdates and sleepovers, parties, large family dinners, visitors in your home, and non-essential workers in your house);
- Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water;
- Covering coughs and sneezes (into the sleeve or elbow, not hands);
- Regularly cleaning high-touch surfaces;
- Not shaking hands;
- Avoiding touching your face; and
- Staying home.
This is a rapidly evolving situation and we encourage the public to frequently monitor Langlade County Health Department Website at bit.ly/LangladeHealth or the Langlade County Health Department Facebook page, the DHS website for updates,. Additional information can be found on the CDC website.