Coronavirus. COVID-19. Coronavirus Disease 2019. Doctor holding Earth planet in hands. Elements of this image are furnished by NASA

By Shereen Siewert

A new public-private partnership to increase Wisconsin’s laboratory testing capacity for COVID-19 in Wisconsin, according to a news release issued Monday by Gov. Tony Evers.

Prior to Monday’s announcement, the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene and the Milwaukee Public Health Lab were leading the Wisconsin Clinical Lab Network labs to bring COVID-19 testing online.

The new partnership now includes laboratory support from Exact Sciences, Marshfield Clinic Health System, Promega, and UW Health. These organizations, along with the Wisconsin Clinical Lab Network, will now share knowledge, resources, and technology to bolster Wisconsin’s testing capacity, Evers said, while congratulating the state and Milwaukee labs already working to bring tests online.

The Wisconsin Clinical Lab Network labs have been averaging completion of 1,500-2,000 COVID-19 tests per day. The expanded capacity from the state’s new public-private partnership is expected to double that capacity initially and continue to expand as additional platforms and supplies become available.

“Wisconsin is extremely fortunate to have these industry leaders in our own backyard,” Evers said.

Dr. Susan Turney, CEO of the Marshfield Clinic Health System, praised the collaborative effort and called the partnership a “monumental step” in terms of identifying the virus and allocating resources to patients that need them most.

Residents who are seeking a COVID-19 test are still required to receive an order from a doctor.

“While I am excited to announce these critical partnerships that will increase our capacity to fight this outbreak in Wisconsin, there are still very real challenges to obtaining supplies of critical laboratory materials,” Evers said. “The rapid spread of COVID-19 in other parts of the country and world are making these important supplies scarce, but with our new partners, and through the state’s ongoing efforts to obtain these materials from the federal government and through the private market, we are working day and night to reinforce our sources of these supplies.”

All individuals are encouraged to do the following:

  • Stay at home as much as possible. Cancel events and avoid groups, gatherings, play dates, and nonessential appointments;
  • Stay at least 6 feet away from other people, when possible;
  • Practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol;
  • Avoid touching face, eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands;
  • Cover mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, and cough and sneeze into your elbow;
  • Continue to visit Department Health Services COVID-19 informational website. This comprehensive website has resources, updates, and answers to commonly asked questions about COVID-19.

More information regarding the statewide COVID-19 response is also available here.