By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Since the start of this pandemic, it has been repeated that COVID-19 or coronavirus does not discriminate. Anyone, regardless of their age, gender, race, economic status or religion can get coronavirus. And while that is true, the fact remains that minority groups have been more largely impacted by this virus compared to other groups.
Earlier this week, Gov. Tony Evers announced a plan to allow for free COVID-19 testing. The plan, which is meant to address the health disparities in Wisconsin, is specifically aimed at minority groups including African Americans, Latinos and members of the Indigenous population.
According to the City of Milwaukee Health Department, there has been 2,766 cases in Milwaukee and 137 deaths as of Thursday, May 7. Out of 1,319 confirmed cases, 47.79% of the people are black and there has been over 600 confirmed cases of people with Hispanic descent.
The Journal Sentinel reported that African Americans and Latinos make up half of the confirmed cases in Wisconsin. Latinos make up 28% of the cases and African Americans make up 21%, however both make up seven or less percent of the population.
As part of this initiative, community testing sites have been established throughout the state, where Wisconsin National Guard Members are conducting the tests.
Under Evers plan, African Americans, Latinos and members of the Indigenous population will be able to get tested, regardless if they have symptoms or not, the Journal Sentinel reported.
This is a change from the standard protocol. For example, although the five Federally Qualified Health Centers in Milwaukee now offer COVID-19 testing, individuals are still required to display symptoms before an appointment can be scheduled.
However, an individual can have coronavirus but be asymptomatic. If that is the case, that individual could unintentionally continue the spread of the pandemic, which is why social distancing is so important.
Due to this stipulation, Evers is hopeful that by testing individuals who do or do not display symptoms, more lives can be saved, according to the Journal Sentinel.
In other words, by expanding testing and prioritizing minority groups, Evers’ efforts could help flatten the curve.
According to Urban Milwaukee, individuals will not need to schedule an appointment. The location of the sites has not been confirmed, but more information is expected in the days to come.
Urban Milwaukee reported that Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley said that individuals who live in an area with a high number of cases or is an essential worker could get tested.
It should be noted that the testing sites will be available to anyone.
While more information is expected in the days to come, for additional information, individuals can call or text 2-1-1, visit the City of Milwaukee Health Department at https://city.milwaukee.gov/coronavirus or visit the Wisconsin Department of Health Services at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/testing.htm.