By Shereen Siewert
As of midday on Monday, March 16, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services is reporting 47 confirmed cases of COVID-19, up from 33 reported 24 hours earlier.
There are no confirmed cases in Marathon County. Wood, Waukesha, Winnebago, Sheboygan, Racine, Pierce, Outagamie, Milwaukee, Dane and Fond du Lac Counties are impacted so far, according to the DHS.
To date, 551 tests have been processed in Wisconsin, according to DHS. The state is no longer reporting the number of pending tests.
Judy Burrows, Community Health Improvement Program Director of the Marathon County Health Department, said a number of factors influence how long test results take.
Samples collected locally are being sent two labs in Wisconsin, though some provider networks are sending samples to laboratories out of state, Burrows said.
Samples are triaged based on risk, she added.
“For example: if two samples arrive at the same time and one of them is from a person with symptoms who just returned from Italy, and the second sample is from a person who has not traveled and has no known contact to COVID19, the lab will prioritize the first sample to be tested first,” Burrows said.
Tom Weaver, public relations manager at Ascension, said anyone who believes they may have had contact with someone who is confirmed to have, or is being evaluated for, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), should contact their physician.
To help prevent the spread of disease, the CDC recommends that individuals call ahead before going to a doctor’s office or emergency room and inform clinical staff about symptoms and any recent travel, Weaver said.
“Our healthcare professionals will work with public health and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19,” Weaver said.
Several area health care facilities have set up hotlines to answer questions about COVID-19.
“Everyone (providers, laboratories, etc.) is doing the best they can with the resources they have,” Burrows said.
REMINDER: Wisconsin is under a State of Emergency and you are encouraged to practice social distancing. Wausau Pilot and Review has a special page dedicated to our reporting on COVID-19 for the Wausau area. See it here and sign up for our daily email to stay informed. You can also join our Central Wisconsin Coronavirus Facebook group for helpful tips, links, and discussion.