In October 2020, during the height of the COVID-19 surge in Northeast and Central Wisconsin, in an effort to expand access to testing for those living in the area, the U.S. Surgeon General, ThedaCare, Sen. Roger Roth and community partners announced the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would stand up a surge testing location in Neenah, Wisconsin. At the time, Wisconsin was seeing significant increases in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and would benefit from additional opportunities to identify new cases, especially for those who are asymptomatic.
“Testing is a critical component in our battle against COVID-19,” said Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams, who visited Neenah for the announcement. “If you or your loved ones are worried you may have come into contact with COVID-19, please make an appointment to get tested. It’s easy and free. I am also urging the public to please continue to do their part to protect others and to stop the spread of COVID-19 by following the three Ws: wear a mask, wash your hands, and watch your distance. We owe this to our community and our friends and family members to protect them.”
The site was located at ThedaCare Physicians-Neenah and provided testing at no cost to all individuals. Surge testing provides additional temporary federal support to areas that have seen a recent spike in coronavirus cases. Leaders from ThedaCare have worked with government officials, public health departments and other community partners to ensure access to expanded testing for Northeast and Central Wisconsin.
“We have been in constant contact with the health systems here in Northeast Wisconsin, and understand their need for more supplies,” said Sen. Roger Roth (R-Appleton). “Together we have been working diligently with federal agencies to get the resources we need to Northeast Wisconsin. I want to thank HHS, FEMA, and ThedaCare for their tireless efforts to get this up and running.”
This site would conduct up to 30,000 tests with the intent to detect cases that would go undetected to further help Wisconsin flatten the curve. Testing helps our communities better understand the infection and spread, allowing the public to take individual and collective action to keep themselves and others safe.
“We know that to best manage community spread of COVID-19, testing and contact tracing are critical,” said Dr. Jennifer Frank, ThedaCare Chief Medical Officer. “Testing directly ties to our mission of improving the health of the communities we serve and gives us insight to the breadth and depth of those infected in our communities, and thus what the future numbers may be.”
The surge testing efforts were continued by ThedaCare far beyond the one site. Using mobile vaccination vehicles, ThedaCare conducted 15,341 mobile COVID-19 tests from October-December 2020 at more than 50 locations. As of August 2021, mobile testing continues by the ThedaCare team in Northeast and Central Wisconsin communities.