CHIPPEWA FALLS — Only 47% of available tests were taken in Thorp and just 38% were used in Ladysmith at drive-through COVID-19 testing sites this week.
“I was surprised the numbers weren’t higher,” said Chippewa County public health director Angela Weideman at her weekly news conference Friday morning. “Overall, the testing sites went very smoothly.”
The National Guard performed the drive-through tests. There were 300 tests available at each site, but just 115 were taken in Ladysmith and 142 in Thorp. To receive a test, a person needed to be showing at least one of the symptoms of COVID-19. In comparison, 505 of the 600 available tests were distributed at the Eau Claire drive-through site.
“In the future, I think it will open up even more,” Weideman said. “We’re not at the point where we are testing asymptomatic people.”
Between the public drive-through tests given in Thorp, Ladysmith and Eau Claire, 101 Chippewa County residents received tests, she added.
Weideman pointed to signs that testing will expand, noting that all staff and residents at long-term care facilities will be tested for the virus.
On Thursday, both Eau Claire and Dunn counties approved modified stay-at-home orders, after the state Supreme Court threw out the state’s policy.
“Our county did look at potentially writing a local order,” Weideman said.
Ultimately, officials didn’t create one because they felt it couldn’t be enforced, she explained. So, she asked the public to keep following safe social distancing guidelines.
“Keep your circle small. Please wear a mask,” she said.
Weideman thanked all the businesses who have called her in recent days to learn about how to safely reopen.
Even as the stay-at-home orders ended, Chippewa County has seen a significant jump in cases. There are now 36 confirmed COVID-19 patients in Chippewa County, with a full 25% coming in just the past week and 42% of all positive cases reported over the past two weeks, Weideman said.
However, 26 of those cases are no longer being monitored because they don’t have any symptoms. Of the 10 still being monitored, no one is hospitalized. Chippewa County hasn’t had any COVID-19-related deaths.
The county now has 20 workers trained to be “contact tracers,” who will reach out to people who may have come in contact with a person who has tested positive for the virus. Based on the county’s population of about 64,000 residents, the county should have 19 tracers, she added. At this time, Weideman said they have been able to handle the caseload.
Chippewa Falls police Chief Matt Kelm thanked the public for following the stay-at-home orders over the past two months. He urged people to continue to use social distancing, and reminded people to be aware of scams.
Kelm recommended that area churches don’t open at this time, but added, “There isn’t any enforcement we can do.”