By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers released a plan on Tuesday calling for spending $1 billion in federal funds to combat COVID-19 in Wisconsin.
The money will be used to fund ongoing virus testing efforts, conduct contact tracing, purchase supplies, provide resources and prepare for a surge. The spending plan comes a day after Evers dropped plans to work with the state Legislature to pass a new statewide rule to slow the spread of the virus.
There is no statewide “safer at home” order after the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck it down last week, leaving a patchwork of local restrictions.
“Regardless of the political overtones of the past week, we still know what we need to do to box in this virus and help keep people safe,” Evers said in a statement. “Our statewide approach to containing the spread of COVID-19 will continue with robust testing and contact tracing efforts in all corners of Wisconsin, resources that ensure our critical workers have the equipment they need to do their jobs safely, and direct investments in local communities and health providers. Wisconsin’s Safer At Home order may have ended, but our all-out war on this virus has not.”
About $260 million in federal money will be used to offer more testing, including providing free tests at hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, local public health departments and elsewhere.
Another $50 million will go to local public health departments to hire staff employees to track down people who have come into contact with those who tested positive. The remaining money will be used to hire staff at the state level and purchase equipment.
An additional $150 million is being used to pay for personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves and gowns. The state was also spending $40 million on ventilators and holding $445 million in reserve and to prepare for an expected surge in cases over the summer and fall.
By Tuesday, there were 467 deaths from COVID-19 and nearly 13,000 confirmed cases, the state Department of Health Services reported.