Good news followed those who drove through a COVID-19 testing site in Solon Springs last week.
While many who took the free test reported having symptoms such as a cough, sore throat, fatigue, headaches, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, no one tested positive for the new virus, said Kathy Ronchi, Douglas County public health officer.
Washburn and Douglas County public health officials joined forces with the Wisconsin National Guard to administer 171 tests Wednesday, May 6 at the Solon Springs Community Center.
“I would have like to have tested more,” said Kathy Ronchi, Douglas County public health officer. “I would have liked to test asymptomatic people just to understand the virus.”
Officials administered tests to residents of Barron, Bayfield, Burnett, Chippewa, Dane, Rusk, Sawyer and Washburn counties, in addition to testing 129 Douglas County residents. Most participants were between the ages 50 and 79.
“We did have a report of a positive person at the testing site, but they lived in another county,” Ronchi said.
One new case of COVID-19 was reported in Douglas County May 9, but Ronchi said that test was administered separate from the event in Solon Springs. As of Tuesday, the state had 10,611 confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, including two cases in Ashland County, three in Bayfield County, 11 in Douglas County, four in Sawyer County and one in Washburn County.
The lack of positive cases reflects well on Douglas County, but "it's definitely still here," she said.
“I was happy they were all negative,” Ronchi said. “I think what it says for us is that overall, we’ve had really good compliance with the Safer at Home orders, and people are doing the social distancing and wearing the masks and doing the hand hygiene and that kind of thing. I think what it says about us is that we’ve done a very good job of slowing the spread here in Douglas County.”
The lab the National Guard is working with is processing thousands of samples now, Ronchi said. Adjutant Gen. Paul Knapp said the National Guard has 21 of 25 statewide teams assembled to administer tests statewide. As of Tuesday, May 12, more than 17,000 tests have been administered.
Public health officials in Ashland, Bayfield and Iron counties joined with the Red Cliff and Bad River bands of Lake Superior Chippewa and the Wisconsin National Guard on Thursday, May 7 to ramp up testing for individuals there. About 150 people were tested at that event, including residents from Douglas, Price, Sawyer and Washburn counties. So far, the tests that have returned have been negative, but several tests remain outstanding, according to health officials with Ashland County and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.
While a lack of positive cases doesn’t mean they’re in the clear, Pam Feustal of the Bad River Band and Elizabeth Szot of Ashland County said they agree it does mean people are doing a great job of limiting contacts and maintaining social distance.
Ronchi said additional testing sites are anticipated in Western Wisconsin. For information, visit wwphrc.org/covid-19-community-testing. For more information on Douglas County’s results, check the "Coronavirus Updates" page at douglascountywi.org.