UWL, other UW campuses to become first “surge testing” sites for COVID-19
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — University of Wisconsin System campuses, including UW-La Crosse, are slated to become the first “surge testing” sites for a new rapid-results COVID-19 test available to members of the schools’ communities.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is partnering with the UW System to provide 250,000 Abbot BinaxNOW tests, UW System President Tommy Thompson said Wednesday.
The free tests will boost the system’s robust testing program for students and help identify people who might have the novel coronavirus, Thompson said.
The UWL surge testing site is scheduled to open Thursday, a school representative said.
“Our universities are perfectly positioned to help Wisconsin combat the spread of COVID-19,” Thompson said. “This is the Wisconsin Idea in action, and a recognition of our existing work to keep our students, faculty, and staff as safe as possible during the pandemic.”
This is the first time a federal surge testing operation will use Abbott BinaxNOW rapid point-of-care tests that provide a result within 15 minutes. Federal surge testing provides additional temporary federal support to areas that have seen a recent spike in coronavirus cases, as Wisconsin has.
“The intent of surge testing efforts is to help local, state and federal public health experts identify new cases, including those that may be asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic,” said Adm. Brett Giroir, the HHS assistant secretary for health.
Individuals do not have to be experiencing symptoms or be a close contact of someone with COVID-19 to get a test, nor do they need to live in the community where the testing site is located. Those who want to be tested will register online, proceed to the testing site, administer the test themselves under supervision and label it for processing, according to a UW System news release.
Testees can register at a COVID-19 test site. Participants can retrieve results by logging into this portal after receiving an email notifying them that their results are ready.
Individuals who test negative with the BinaxNOW test but also are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or who test positive but do not have symptoms are urged to get a confirming PCR test.
UW System’s partnership with HHS complements its ongoing partnership with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, which also is helping supply 350,000 COVID-19 tests to the UW System.