UW System to lead massive surge testing effort for Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin (UW) System campuses, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will serve as the first “surge testing” sites for a new rapid-results COVID-19 test available to members of the community, UW System President Tommy Thompson announced on Wednesday, Nov. 4.

Thompson said the 250,000 Abbot BinaxNOW tests provided by HHS amplify the System’s robust testing program for students and will assist in identifying people who may have the coronavirus.

A news release says 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.

The federal government purchased Abbott BinaxNOW diagnostic tests on August 27 to ensure equitable distribution of the first 150 million units – one day after an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) was issued by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

This picture taken on May 23, 2020 shows a laboratory technician holding a dose of a COVID-19 novel coronavirus vaccine candidate

Campuses are currently establishing testing sites with medical support provided by eTrueNorth under contract with the federal government. Some sites will open as early as this week. Testing will be available at no cost. 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.

Individuals seeking to be tested will register online, proceed to the testing site, administer the test themselves under supervision, and label it for processing.

Register for a free test at www.doineedacovid19test.com. Participants will also retrieve results by logging into this portal after receiving an email that informs them that their results are ready.

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The state Department of Health Services will be supplying an additional 30,000 PCR tests as part of the effort. Individuals who test negative using 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 confirmatory PCR test.

UW System’s partnership with HHS complements its ongoing partnership with Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, which is separately helping supply 350,000 COVID-19 tests to the UW System.

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