Concordia University Wisconsin professors are aiding in the Wisconsin National Guard’s and Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department’s ramped up efforts to test for COVID-19.
On Oct. 19, amidst rising numbers of coronavirus cases throughout the state, the Wisconsin National Guard—in partnership with Wisconsin Department of Health Services and local health departments—announced that it would begin immediately to expand COVID-19 testing options into 38 counties, with a plan to continue regular testing at most community-based sites through the first half of December. Washington and Ozaukee Counties were included on that list. Testing is available at three different sites within the two counties.
Led by Bob Burlage, PhD, chair of pharmaceutical and administrative sciences at Concordia, a team of six professors and two students from CUW have committed about two dozen hours at a sample collection site in Port Washington.
Ozaukee County residents ages 5 or up are invited to visit Ozaukee County Transit Services, 410 S. Spring St., to receive a free PCR test. The health department requests that testing be reserved for those with symptoms, close contact cases, members of a vulnerable population, or front-line workers. Pre-registration/screening is strongly encouraged at all sites, but on-site registration is also available. Testing is first come, first served and limited to about 300 individuals a day. Click here for a full schedule of testing options and more information.
Concordians served at the Port Washington site the past two Fridays, and will again provide services on Nov. 6 and 13. Collections will also take place Nov. 7, 14, 21, and Dec. 5 at the Transit Services building.
“The Concordia team stepped up because we want to serve our fellow citizens in this important and potentially dangerous task,” said Burlage. “We all have the same goal: to blunt the force of the COVID pandemic by catching cases as early as possible and getting people to quarantine effectively.”
The recently enhanced measures statewide add a weighty responsibility to the already-impressive efforts undertaken by municipal agencies to date. The Wisconsin National Guard reports that, as of Oct. 19, Guard teams had collected 654,007 specimens statewide. Approximately 700 members of the Wisconsin National Guard are currently serving in direct support of the state’s response to COVID-19.
Less than an hour into collection on Friday, Oct. 30 at the Port Washington location, the line of cars was already so long that it stretched to the highway (about 3.5 miles) noted John Hanan, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator with Washington Ozaukee Public Health.
“We only collect 300 samples each day and we’ve had sites where we met that quota within three hours,” said Hanan. “Clearly there’s a demand for testing.”
The demand is such that Washington Ozaukee Public Health Department notes on its website that “public health has not consistently been able to notify cases and their close contacts in a timely manner” and that the department has begun to prioritize contacting positive cases as a result.
“It’s really all hands on deck at a time like this,” said Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical and Administrative Sciences Uvidelio Castillo, PhD, one of the CUW professors who joined Friday morning’s effort. “Last Friday’s collection effort in particular produced a tremendous showing. At Concordia, we feel compelled to serve our neighbors in this way because we have the knowledge and capacity to do it, and the university supports us in our desire to extend a helping hand to our communities.”
— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-243-2149.
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