UW System COVID-19 surge testing sites, including UWL, helping bring virus spread down on campuses

Just three percent of cases are positive at all UW System campuses, Interim President Tommy Thompson says

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – UW-La Crosse’s free COVID-19 surge testing site opened last week to the public, which is being paid for the by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

And so far, it’s been busy with students and other people in the community getting tested.

UW System Interim President Tommy Thompson has a straightforward message to slow down the spread of the coronavirus.

“The only way we win this fight is by testing,” Thompson said.

UWL’s COVID-19 surge testing site seems to only be helping that effort.

“We’re doing very well on campus with our residence hall students,” UW-La Crosse chancellor Joe Gow said. “And we have pretty low numbers of virus.”

On Wednesday, only three rapid on-campus tests came back positive. In the last week, only one other rapid test was positive.

“But unfortunately, we can’t say the same thing for the greater community,” Gow said. “The numbers have been pretty high.”

UWL’s surge testing site is just one of 13 sites around the state, all at UW System campuses.

“We have another 13 campuses out there, two-year campuses,” Thompson said. And we’re testing there as well.”

And it looks like these sites could be a key to slowing down the virus.

“Our positivity rate on all of our campuses throughout the state is at three percent,” Thompson said.

The site can test 500 people a day and only takes about 15 minutes to get results back.

“It really is quite simple and quick,” Gow said. “And so, I would echo, encourage everybody to do that.”

And if tests run out, the HHS is prepared.

“The Department of Health and Human Services actually has many, many more of these tests that they purchased,” CDC Director of Division of Global Health Protection Dr. Nancy Knight said.

Wisconsin is in a health crisis.

“The positivity rate across the state is about 33 percent,” Thompson said.

And so, Thompson’s message is clear.

“Get tested!,” he said.

The COVID-19 surge testing site at UWL is at the Cartwright Center. The second floor is for students living on-campus. People living off-campus, faculty or other folks in the community can get tested on the third floor.

Again, testing is FREE. But registration is required. It is open to the public until early December.