Wisconsin Department of Health Services provides guidance on COVID-19 testing criteria
FOR THE TOMAHAWK LEADER
WISCONSIN – The Department of Health Services (DHS) last week announced that due to a national shortage of COVID-19 laboratory testing materials, the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH) and the Milwaukee Health Department Laboratory (MHDL) are limiting testing to the highest priority patients and health care workers.
Although both laboratories have significantly increased their capacity for COVID-19 testing, the number of samples being received exceeds daily capacity. Both laboratories will be testing high-priority samples from hospitalized patients and health care workers seven days a week for the foreseeable future. Test requests that do not meet the criteria will be sent to other labs in the state and country for testing.
With the increased number of COVID-19 cases reported nationally and identified community spread in Wisconsin, health care providers are urged to prioritize testing for hospitalized patients for whom timely diagnosis of COVID-19 is critical. Testing should be prioritized based on clinical criteria. There is no role for testing asymptomatic patients.
“In an effort to maintain capacity and make better use limited of supplies, and because anyone traveling outside of the country is already being asked to self-isolate for 14 days, we’re prioritizing individuals with symptoms, healthcare providers, and hospitalized patients with symptoms,” said Shelley Hersil, Lincoln County Health Officer. “Prioritizing testing also assures that Lincoln County Health Department can manage the caseload and follow-up of the most critical patients as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
Testing is not recommended for people with mild, upper respiratory symptoms, or those with mild illnesses for which they would not normally seek medical care. It is recommended that these individuals self-isolate at home until their symptoms improve.
Information for healthcare providers on testing guidance and an updated, required triage form are available on the DHS COVID-19 website (www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/index.htm).