As the Cold Weather Brings an Uptick in COVID-19 Cases, DHS Reminds Wisconsinites How to Stay Healthy this Holiday Season
In both 2020 and 2021, COVID-19 cases surged during the colder months. As colder weather returns, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) reminds Wisconsinites of the available programs for accessing COVID-19 self-tests and treatment. All Wisconsinites are encouraged to utilize these services to keep themselves and those around them safe this holiday season.
Wisconsinites can order free at-home rapid COVID-19 tests and have them delivered directly to their residence through the state-supported Say Yes! COVID Test program, which is partially funded through the American Rescue Plan Act. All Wisconsin households are eligible to place an order every month on the Say Yes! COVID Test website for one free test kit that contains five rapid antigen COVID-19 tests. Households can place an order for test kits starting the first of every month, including households that have already received an initial order of test kits since the launch of this program in September.
“The Say Yes! COVID Test program gives Wisconsinites the ability to test for COVID-19 and know their results within minutes at-home”, said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “Knowing whether you have COVID-19 is essential to preventing the spread of the virus. Once you know your test results, you can make decisions that will keep your loved ones safe.”
Since offering Wisconsinites the ability to place monthly orders through Say Yes! COVID Test, 520,445 self-tests have been ordered. Since the start of the program in September, orders have been placed from all 72 Wisconsin counties and there have been 1,288,110 total self-tests ordered.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 should take a test immediately. If you test positive, stay home for five days as recommended by the CDC, separate yourself from others, and notify those who may have been exposed. Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, should take a COVID-19 test five days after being exposed to someone with COVID-19.
We also remind those who test positive that COVID-19 antiviral treatments are free and available throughout the state. These antiviral pills must be taken within five days of symptoms starting, even if symptoms are mild, making it essential to quickly access a clinician for a prescription.
Anyone 18 and older who tests positive for COVID-19 can have a free COVID-19 Treatment Telehealth consultation with a health care clinician within 5-30 minutes. If eligible, a clinician will prescribe an oral antiviral pill that reduces the risk for severe symptoms, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19. The prescription can be filled at over 700 pharmacies in the state. Insurance is not required. Those without pharmacy access can have their medicine shipped overnight.
“Providing telehealth access to COVID-19 assessments and treatments supports our commitment to health equity,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Deb Standridge. “COVID-19 Treatment Telehealth is a quick, easy, and free way for individuals who may not be able to travel to a clinic, or who may not have insurance or a usual source of health care, to learn if antiviral pills to treat COVID-19 are an appropriate treatment for them. We believe this will be especially important in extending our ability to serve rural, elderly, and other underserved populations.”
The COVID-19 Treatment Telehealth service is available statewide, accessible through internet and telephone, and consultations are available in multiple languages. Consultations are available seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., even on holidays. At-home COVID-19 tests or tests performed by a health care provider or a community testing site are acceptable. Since the launch of the COVID-19 Treatment Telehealth service at the start of November 2022, there have been 601 completed telehealth consultations resulting in 409 prescriptions being issued for oral antiviral pills.
The service is not for medical emergencies or for treatments other than COVID-19.
COVID-19 treatments and medications should not be used as replacements for prevention measures such as wearing a mask and vaccination. For the best protection against COVID-19 and circulating variants, get vaccinated and get your booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine.