DHS Announces COVID Connect Tool

The web-based tool will register those waiting to get tested to ease wait times and provide valuable information to contact tracers.

By Will Kenneally

July 9, 2020

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Stephanie Smiley

Stephanie Smiley, interim administrator of the Division of Public Health in DHS, announces a web-based tool that will help contact tracers in Wisconsin July 9, 2020.

The Department of Health Services announced Thursday the rollout of a new COVID-19 website that will help expedite testing at state-run facilities.

The website, called COVID Connect, will be used to register people ahead of receiving a COVID-19 test. The registration will ask questions including whether an individual is a first responder or whether they might be immunocompromised.

Stephanie Smiley, the department’s Division of Public Health interim administrator, said the information will provide useful information for contact tracers if a test comes back positive.

The COVID Connect software is currently being piloted at the testing site in Madison, and DHS is working with local partners to introduce it statewide within the next few weeks.

“All of this information is linked to your test specimen, which helps reduce human error and provides a more rapid test result,” she said.

“We’re confident that it will help cut down the wait times at the testing sites, in addition to providing e-mail testing results,” said Wisconsin National Guard Adjutant General Paul Knapp.

Knapp said demand for testing has increased at the sites around the state that are run by the national guard. He said the facility at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison recorded a statewide high last week of more than 3,000 tests conducted in one day.

This comes as Wisconsin broke its single-day record for new infections Thursday with 754 new cases.

Smiley stressed the importance of wearing masks as a way to mitigate the rise of cases in the state.

“It is one of the only tools that we actually have in our toolbox to slow the spread of this disease,” she said. “We just want individuals to do the right thing and try to protect themselves and others.”

When asked what that might mean for schools reopening in the fall, Smiley said there is not enough information yet available on how the virus spreads in a school setting.

“But it really is going to be those same principles that are going to require people to just to engage in activities more safely,” she said.

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