Wisconsin, Milwaukee conducting coronavirus tests

March 03, 2020 10:17 AM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

March 3, Wisconsin Health News

The Wisconsin State Laboratory State Lab and City of Milwaukee Health Department are now able to test for the new coronavirus, health officials said Monday.

Positive test results will be presumed positive and forwarded to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation, according to a statement from the Department of Health Services.

Jeanne Ayers, state health officer and administrator of the DHS Division of Public Health, said the ability to test in the state will allow for faster results to let people with symptoms of the disease know if they have it. 

“Faster test results will also help our epidemiologists and local health departments monitor people suspected of having the virus and other people who may have been exposed to it,” she said in a statement.

She added that the risk remains low.

So far, there’s only been one confirmed case in the state. They were released from isolation last Friday after testing negative for the virus twice.

The agency has investigated 21 state residents for the virus. Eighteen tested negative, and two test results were pending as of Monday afternoon.

Tom Haupt, respiratory disease epidemiologist and influenza surveillance coordinator, told reporters that the flu season is also peaking in Wisconsin, with more than 500 hospitalizations in the last week. He called that “amazing for this time of year.”

“We want people to be aware not only of the COVID-19, but also the influenza virus that’s currently circulating,” he said on a conference call.