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Governor’s office outlines $1B COVID-19 spending plan

COVID TESTING

MADISON (WKOW) -- Amid expanded testing and local governments setting their own reopening guidelines, Governor Tony Evers's office announced Tuesday a $1.17 billion plan to expand testing, contact tracing, purchase new equipment and prepare for possible future outbreaks in the state's ongoing effort to mitigate the threat of the novel coronavirus.

The funding accounts for more than half of the nearly $2 billion Wisconsin is in line to receive in federal assistance through the CARES Act.

"The funding announced today will support both local and state health departments in this effort," said Wisconsin Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk.

The spending plan calls for $260 million to go toward expanded contact tracing. DHS said Tuesday the state now has the ability to process 13,000 tests per day out of 52 different lab sites. Most of that funding, $202 million, will purchase COVID-19 test kits and distribute them to hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and local/tribal health departments.

Another $75 million is set to fund expanded contact tracing efforts. Fifty million of that aid is set aside for local health departments.

"Testing without tracing is meaningless. Once we know who is infected, we must contact them, make sure they understand how important it is to isolate until their symptoms have resolved," Van Dijk said. "We must also notify all contacts to a positive case to quarantine during the period where they could develop symptoms."

The spending plan earmarks $445 million for hospital systems across the state. Van Dijk said much of that funding is in reserve should parts of the state experience outbreaks as the state reopens or a second wave emerge later in the year. That funding will also cover the construction of an Alternate Care Facility at State Fair Park, as well as the construction of another ACF at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison should that become necessary.

"Particularly in the fall, we may face a surge of COVID-19 patients if this epidemic follows a similar course to prior epidemics, we want to make sure we have funds in reserve for any future surge that emerges," Van Dijk said.

The governor's office plans to use $150 million for the ongoing purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE). Another $40 million is earmarked for acquiring 1,542 more ventilators.

As for the remaining funding Wisconsin is receiving from the CARES Act, Melissa Baldauff, a spokesperson for the governor's office, said more details regarding that share of aid will come later this week.