The Wisconsin National Guard is in Eau Claire for a two-day event to test people for COVID-19.
Anyone five-years old or older showing symptoms could come to Prevea Health on 617 West Clairemont Ave. in Eau Claire Sunday, or can go Monday for a free test.
Eau Claire City-County Health Department director Lieske Giese says the event gives local health partners a clear picture as to just how affected the Chippewa Valley is by the Coronavirus.
“We have over the next 2 days, 600 test kits we are using for this event and it is an extremely big positive to have that, compared to what we have in the day to day basis here in this community,” Giese said. “I think we have a lot of people in this community and the western side of the state that don’t think COVID-19 is a problem. This will give us an idea of what we have currently.”
The Wisconsin National Guard is taking the testing kits from this event to a lab in Madison to be processed. Giese says normally testing this many people could them a few weeks. She says people should have their results back with 24-48 hours. With those results, local health officials are hoping to learn just how prevalent the disease locally.
“We ask everybody to stay home until the test results are communicated to them so they know if they are positive or negative,” Giese said.
Prevea Chief Medical Officer and HSHS Sacred Heart and St. Joseph’s Hospital ER physician Dr. Ken Johnson says, there has been high demand for tests.
“People are happy and grateful the tests are available,” said Johnson. “We opened the site at 8 o’clock, but we had people here as early as 6:45 a.m. waiting to be tested.
Both Giese and Dr. Johnson say that just because the number of positive COVID-19 cases may rise from this testing, does not necessarily mean there is more disease in the area, it just means they have a better idea of where to look.
“We are really hoping from all testing and certainly from this two-day test is to have a strong ability to contain disease. The more testing we do, the more likely we know if someone is positive,” said Giese. “Those people staying on home and their contacts staying home mean we keep the spread of disease as small a circle as possible.”
With events like this, Gov. Evers hopes to expand access to testing across the state, a step he says is an important one to help Wisconsin bounce back.
For more information on public COVID-19 testing sites this week, click here.