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State health officials hope to double COVID-19 testing

MADISON (WKOW) - The Wisconsin Department of Health Services is setting new goals to try to eliminate the threat of the coronavirus in the state.

DHS reported Tuesday sites across Wisconsin processed more than 12,000 tests in one day. Initially, that was the goal before anything could reopen in the state.

As Alliant Energy Center in Madison sees a surge in people showing up for tests, the state now has a loftier goal, looking to process 150,000 tests every week.

But experts say it goes beyond just the numbers. They want to make sure they're reaching the people who really need to be able to access free testing.

"Our real goal is to make sure that we're able to test anyone with symptoms, and that they have access to testing wherever they are," said Chuck Warzecha, deputy administrator for the Division of Public Health at DHS. "It's about access as well as the numbers and making sure that people who know they need the test, know how to find a way of getting one. It's also about protecting those who are most vulnerable."

Warzecha says the state is working with counties and tribes to identify the areas that may need better access to testing, to consider adding new sites.

Harvard's Global Health Institute analyzed data from all 50 states and found based on its recommendations, Wisconsin is not meeting targets to mitigate or suppress the disease in the state, but it is doing better than others.

We've ramped up our testing a lot, but we definitely know that we have further to go," Warzecha told 27 News. "I would say that we are kind of in the middle of the pack in terms of states and testing, probably a little bit ahead of the middle of the pack."

Meanwhile, health officials say prevention is just as important as testing to stop the spread of COVID-19. That means wearing a mask in public and making sure all ages are aware of the risks of spreading the disease, even if you don't have symptoms.

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