State adjusts COVID-19 monitoring as federal COVID-19 Public Emergency ends in May

Communities will no longer have access to federal and state resources made available during the pandemic
Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 5:27 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 27, 2023 at 10:04 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - In a little over two weeks, the federal government’s COVID-19 public health emergency will come to an end.

It means local communities will no longer have access to certain federal and state resources made available because of the pandemic.

“While we know covid is going to be part of our lives going forward, it doesn’t mean we turn a blind eye to it,” said Wisconsin Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge.

But Standridge said it does change how the state monitors the virus now that the national emergency is expiring.

The state will continue to monitor and report covid trends via lab test results, hospitalizations wastewater levels, but the data will look and appear differently.

“We will consolidate a lot of the pages that will be easier to access data and it’s going to change in timeliness, from daily to weekly if not more,” said Standridge.

A major change comes in the availability of tests and the cost to you. At-home tests will likely become more costly for people, even with insurance.

PCR tests ordered by health professionals will no longer be free for the uninsured. They will still be somewhat covered for those with insurance, but it could come with a co-pay.

The state’s mail-order test distribution program, ‘Say Yes! Covid test’, will continue into May as supplies last.

“People should order tests” said Standridge. “We allow households to have two kits per month, so those are there until supplies runs out.”

The state will continue its telehealth program through December, helping those in rural areas get access to covid-treatments, like Paxlovid.

Moving forward, state officials say covid-19 should be treated like the flu. Wisconsinites should stay up to date on trends, vaccines, and symptoms of new variants.

“One of the new symptoms of the new variant is itchy eyes, watery eyes so make sure up to date on signs and symptoms of covid, just like flu,” said Standridge.

To monitor community spread, the CDC offers an interactive map. As of April 26, 2023, 65 of Wisconsin’s 72 counties are at low community spread levels.