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Wis. health officers “concerned” by high demands raised by COVID-19 surge

Published: Nov. 12, 2020 at 10:55 PM CST
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NEW LISBON, Wis. (WMTV) - Local health officers say their counties are struggling to respond to the demands caused by COVID-19.

At Juneau County’s community testing site Thursday, health officials had to turn people away after their allotted 300 test kits ran out.

“Every time we can’t get a positive test or there’s a delay in people getting results, we have people that potentially infectious going around in the community,” Amanda Dederich, the county’s health officer, said.

According to Dederich, Juneau County has seen more than a thousand confirmed cases of COVID-19, with nearly 70 of them reported since Tuesday.

A month from now, Dederich says the National Guard plans to stop assisting with coronavirus testing at the New Lisbon Community Center. Without an extension, Dederich says the county plans to depend on local emergency responders. She said, “We don’t know if it’ll be a sustainable model, but it’s a safety plan.”

A little over 100 miles south of Juneau in Lafayette County, health officer Julie Leibfried reports new daily cases have doubled over the past few weeks. However, Leibfried said that increased testing opportunities are not likely, explaining that there is only so much a small county can do.

Neither Juneau nor Lafayette County has local ordinances for COVID-19. Leibfried said introducing ordinances like limiting capacity are not on agenda items, rather “something to keep in the back of our minds.”

She added, “We’re hoping that after Governor Evers spoke, people will take a personal responsibility to stay home.” she said.

Tuesday, the governor introduced an executive order recommending people stay home as much as possible.

Sauk County’s emergency management director says there is currently a “very high demand for testing,” with anywhere between 200 to 600 tests per day at each site. A Rock County official said the county has no plans to open new testing locations at the moment.

The Department of Health Services reported over 22,000 tests processed on Thursday in the last day across Wisconsin.

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