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Mayo Clinic, Gundersen Health have ‘adequate’ supply of testing, personal protection equipment

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) --- Representatives from both Mayo Clinic Health System and Gundersen Health System addressed the media on their response to COVID-19.

Over the past 10 days, Mayo Clinic Health System has administered over 400 tests. Gundersen also is in triple digits when it comes to testing.

"We are blessed in La Crosse County and this region to have the capacity to test the people who need to be tested, that's not the case everywhere," said Dr. Todd Kowalski, infectious diseases at Gundersen Health. "Even just yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control changed their testing priority and guidelines and criteria to really come right in line with how we've been doing it all along."

Both health care providers are focusing on those who are at-risk, the elderly, and health care workers when it comes to priority for testing.

"We can have all the supplies, but if we don't have that supply of individuals that use that supply and take care of these patients, we're going to be in a much different situation then we want to be," said Jason Fratzke, chief nursing officer at Mayo Clinic Health System.

Both representatives acknowledged that they have what they called an adequate supply of testing kits and personal protection equipment for their staff.

"If the curve stays relative flat, we will have certainly several weeks worth of supplies," said Fratzke. "If that curve does bend, I'm hopeful that things you heard about social distancing and others will certainly flatten that curve, those supplies will last longer than that."

So far, there have been no hospitalizations or deaths in La Crosse County. Of the 12 confirmed cases, one person has already made a full recovery.

Gundersen and Mayo both have surge plans in place if an influx of cases begins to overwhelm the hospitals. The La Crosse County Health Department also helps in coordinating efforts for more space to isolate the sick.

"We have been looking at sites in the community for example for special populations, so those that might be at risk of either being exposed to or spreading the disease," said Jen Rombalski, director of the La Crosse County Health Department.

The biggest message that all three health officials wanted the public to know on Wednesday was to obey the stay-at-home order issued by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers. By obeying, both Gundersen and Mayo anticipate that they will continue to stay in control of the situation.

"We have the reagents, and we have the test kits available to continue to meet the testing needs of La Crosse and our region," said Dr. Kowalski.

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Mike Beiermeister

WXOW Weekend Anchor and Reporter

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