Wisconsin Army National Guard conducting tests for the coronavirus at Omni Center

Up to 400 people are getting examined for the disease

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) – Coronavirus testing continues to expand in our area.

The Wisconsin Army National Guard held drive-thru testing for the public at the Onalaska Omni Center Thursday.

Dozens of cars lined up for testing.

“There haven’t been as many tests as we’ve needed to see,” La Crosse County Health Department public health educator Rachel King said.

King says La Crosse County is testing just 70 people per day.

But up to 400 people from all over the area with symptoms are getting examined free of charge for the coronavirus.

“This is just one extra way that we can get as many tests done as possible,” King said. “And it’ll give us a really clear picture of what our community is dealing with, with COVID-19.”

Each patient is getting tested with a nasal swab, which is considered non-invasive. This test checks to see if someone is currently infected with the virus.

“It’s not antibody testing, either,” King said. “So I know that’s some of the questions we’ve gotten.”

Twenty-eight members from the Wisconsin Army National Guard are testing each patient in a drive-up method. Patients fill out a questionnaire before they get tested.

“Typically, we can get through the full testing site depending on that questionnaire in 5-6 minutes,” said Capt. Christina Baurichter, the officer in charge on-site.

Baurichter says she and other National Guard members put in some time training.

“We get validated where we have people that know how to do the testing show us how we practice, and then we get validated to be able to swab the customers,” Baurichter said.

King says test results will take up to 48 hours. The National Guard will notify anyone with a negative test, but the health department will contact anyone who tests positive.

“The positive test results are typically followed up with the residents,” King said. “So if somebody is from outside of our county, that county will be in charge of calling that person back.”

In a perfect world, nobody will test positive, but King says that’s not likely.

“You know, I would love to say that we don’t have a ton of positive tests,” King said.

Anyone who is five years and older can get tested.

The National Guard will continue testing until 7 p.m. or until all tests run out.