Posted on Tuesday, Apr. 21, 2020 at 3:21 pm
Badger-Bounce-Back it’s a clever title, but what does it mean? Basically, a lot more testing, expanded contact tracing, more protective equipment for workers, increased health care capacity and support for folks needing isolation and 14 straight days with declines in both positive tests and reports of patients with flu-like symptoms. I call that a common sense, data-driven and safer way to reopen our economy and our community institutions.
I agree with Governor Evers and health care experts around the county. It’s not about the date, it’s about the data. Until we have all the elements in place for a safe reopening, we absolutely need to continue the “Safer at Home” policy.
Here in Wisconsin, the state is working hard to increase COVID-19 testing capacity after numerous federal setbacks and supply shortages, and they will continue to do so even more in the coming days and weeks. We are fortunate to have private partners like Exact Sciences, Epic Systems and Promega working with state officials to make a difference. Of course scientists and labs affiliated with UW Madison have been, and will continue to partner with State and local governments. We expect to be able to ramp up testing in the Madison area soon.
Contact tracing involves more aggressive tracking of each case and the spread of the disease. It involves people, called tracers, who work with people who have tested positive to identify, alert, and isolate those they have been in touch with who may have been exposed. Public Health has been doing this labor intensive contact tracing since day one of the pandemic and is ramping up capacity now to do more in the months ahead. This rapid contact tracing has helped us contain the spread of illness in Dane County.
And of course additional personal protection equipment (PPE) is an important part of this plan, as the people doing the testing and treating patients, as well as first responders and other healthcare workers will have to be fully protected. PPE shortages continue to be a major problem in the state.
Once these components are in place, the Governor has outlined a three phased plan that allows for a data-driven reopening of our businesses, restaurants, places of worship, and eventually schools. Here in Madison, we will follow a similar approach – looking closely at the public health data, and then easing back the restrictions.
Like you, I want our thriving community back. Most importantly though, I want everyone to remain healthy. When communities move too fast, they risk a resurgence of the disease and an overwhelming of the health care system. As the Governor said, "It's more like turning a dial than flipping switch.”
We need to be safe, we need to be measured and we need the data to drive the decision making.