Tuesday, May 12, 2020 - 10:28am

A Message from Mayor Rhodes-Conway

On April 20th, Governor Evers released the Badger Bounce Back plan – a multi-step, data-driven plan to reopen the economy while protecting everybody’s health. The plan calls for several key steps to be in place to safely reopen, and one of them is having the capacity to test 85,000 people each week across the state. Today, the State, County, and City announced that a community testing facility is now open at Alliant Energy Center, getting us closer to that goal.

Starting Monday, May 11, free drive-thru and walk-up testing is available for all Dane County residents. Tests will be conducted in the New Holland Pavilion at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison, Monday-Saturday, 8:00am – 4:00pm. If you drive up, you will remain in your car the entire time. The Wisconsin National Guard are collecting specimens and returning them to Exact Sciences for analysis. Results are expected within 3-5 days. Note that the test is not an antibody test and does not indicate if someone has had COVID-19 in the past, but will identify current cases of COVID-19. Depending on utilization, the testing site will be open for the next four weeks (until June 6). No appointments are necessary to visit the site.

If you have insurance and a healthcare provider, we recommend that you first call your doctor about getting tested. Local health care providers are also conducting testing, and your best option may be to get a test from them. For those who are uninsured, do not have a primary care provider, or others who are not able to get a test from their doctor’s office, the Alliant Energy Center testing site provides another option. We especially want those who don't have insurance or who lack access to health care to know they can be tested, and Public Health Madison Dane County will be working to ensure they can receive the support they need.

We have come a long way. Back in March, the state had a low supply of COVID-19 test kits, and anybody with symptoms had to be treated as potentially COVID-positive and asked to self-quarantine to see if symptoms developed. Today, tests are widely available to those with even mild symptoms and others like essential workers, thanks to our regional health care providers and community testing sites such the one at Alliant Energy Center.

I want to thank our great local partners helping us to fill our supply chain and testing capacity gaps. Promega, based in Fitchburg, is manufacturing reagents and testing kits. Here in Madison, Exact Sciences has stepped up to conduct COVID tests and can run thousands per day.

Growing our testing capacity and testing everybody with symptoms helps give us the visibility we need into the state of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without this data, and without the capacity to get this data, we would be forced to navigate this epidemic through guesswork. With real data and insight into the progress we’re making, we will know with confidence when we can take the next steps toward reopening. Not only will we know where we are, but we’ll know if we backslide or continue making forward progress. We’ll also be able to quickly test and isolate individuals who test positive for COVID-19, and follow up with people they’ve been in contact with. This will further help control the spread.

We’re seeing progress on multiple fronts in the fight against COVID-19, and that’s good news. In the coming days, we know that increased testing likely mean we’ll find more COVID-positive cases. That doesn’t mean we’ve seen an actual increase in cases, it means we’ve confirmed more of the cases that were already here. What’s important to watch is the percentage of cases that are positive. We hope to see fewer cases as a percentage of all tests over 14 days.

To learn more, please visit https://www.publichealthmdc.com/coronavirus/testing. You can also get updates about COVID-19 on Public Health’s website, or on Facebook or Twitter.

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