All hands on deck: UW Health processed nearly 200k COVID-19 tests since March 2020

MADISON, Wis. (WKBT) – It doesn’t take long to go get a COVID-19 test, but as you may remember, it wasn’t always that easy.

In early March of 2020, the state lab was the only place that could process COVID-19 tests and supplies were limited.

By mid-March, it was all hands on deck at the UW Health Molecular Diagnostic Lab, where running tests became a 24-7 operation.

Almost a year later, nearly 200,000 tests have gone through this lab.

Lab technicians went from a typical Monday through Friday schedule to working more than 80 hours per week, running as many as 1,100 tests per day.

“I remember very clearly getting to a 30% positive rate and you’re just like, oh my god, this is real,” said UW Health Medical Technologist Adam Bell.

Bell said even though hundreds of tests run through the lab each day, he sees each one as an individual.

The team he works with knows that when one test comes back positive, it could mean another life lost from COVID-19.

“Even if you’re processing so many samples and you see so many different names, you think about them when you’re handling each one,” said Sarah Emond, UW Health Senior Medical Technologist.