Officials urge COVID-19 testing as Wisconsin awaits vaccine

Gov. Tony Evers and Wisconsin officials are urging people to get tested and to quarantine until their results come in if they think they were exposed to COVID-19 over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Anticipating a potential surge in COVID-19 cases after get-togethers over the Thanksgiving weekend, Gov. Evers said the safest time to get tested for the virus is at least three days after exposure.

"Go get tested. Stay home as much as you can, and avoid contact with others," Gov. Evers said.

The call for testing comes as Wisconsin sits less than 10,000 COVID-19 cases from hitting another alarming milestone.

"It took us seven-and-a-half months to get to our first 100,000 cases," said Andrea Palm, Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) secretary-designee. "Now we’ve reached December and are nearing 400,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 here in Wisconsin."

On Tuesday, Dec. 1, deaths reported over the previous 24 hours also set a new single-day record. Not reflected in those 107 lives lost was Madison East High School student Isai Morocho

School officials said Morocho died unexpectedly last week after a brief illness related to COVID-19. He would be the first child in the state to die from the virus.

"The death of a young person from COVID or anything else is a significant tragedy," said Palm.

Isai Morocho

"Our role is not to determine the cause of death. That happens either by the medical team that's caring for the patient if they're in the hospital or medical examiner or coroner if someone passes away outside the hospital," said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, chief medical officer with the DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases. "And that can take several days."

Meanwhile, efforts to roll out a vaccine are underway. The state is expected to receive its first shipment before the end of 2020.

"We like every other state will receive our allocation based on our population," said Palm.

While health care workers will be first in line for a vaccine, officials said they will be looking at the mass testing site model as a potential way to vaccinate the general public.

"This is a challenge when you’re thinking about the number of vaccines that you're going to want to put in arms in as short a period of time as you can," Palm said.

Wisconsin is also participating in a federal program -- tasking pharmacies with vaccinating people at skilled nursing facilities.

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