Health care professionals are those responsible for treating and working with patients and families affected by COVID-19.
This page houses information and resources for health care professionals responding to COVID-19.
For patient education materials and other COVID-19 resources, visit the COVID-19: Communication Resources
Are you a provider with questions?
Contact DHSWIHAIPreventionProgram@dhs.wisconsin.gov for questions related to infection prevention and control, personal protective equipment (PPE), outbreak consultation, health care setting-specific guidance, National Healthcare Safety Network (NHSN) use, etc.
The Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Health and Human Services released a Bulletin: Civil Rights, HIPAA, and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (PDF) to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Physical health and safety guidance
Considerations for allocation of scarce resources
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), in collaboration with the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee, and with input from Wisconsin clinicians, bioethicists, advocacy groups and residents through a public comment process, proposes a number of considerations for hospitals developing or revising allocation guidelines for mechanical ventilators and other scarce resources during a public health emergency.
Hospitals developing or revising allocation guidelines may benefit from reviewing documents developed on this topic by national organizations and other state health departments, which are referenced below.
- Institute of Medicine Committee on Guidance for Establishing Standards of Care for Use in Disaster Situations. Guidance for establishing crisis standards of care for use in disaster situations: a letter report. Washington DC: National Academies Press (US); 2009.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Ventilator Document Workgroup, Ethics Subcommittee of the Advisory Committee to the Director. Ethical considerations for decision making regarding allocation of mechanical ventilators during a severe influenza pandemic or other public health emergency (PDF), 2011. Atlanta, GA; 2011.
- White DB, Lo B. A Framework for Rationing Ventilators and Critical Care Beds During the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA. 2020;323(18):1773–1774. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.5046
- University of Pittsburgh Model Hospital Policy for Allocation of Scarce Critical Care Resources During a Public Health Emergency (PDF)
- New York State Health Department Ventilator Allocation Guidelines (PDF) 2015
- Minnesota Pandemic Ethics Project
Reporting and surveillance guidance
The state epidemiologist declared COVID-19 a Category I reportable disease per a memo issued on Feb. 4, 2020 (PDF). Health care providers and laboratories must report confirmed or suspected cases to the DHS within 24 hours of detection.
- Per a memo issued on April 4, 2022, the following SARS-CoV-2 Laboratory Reporting Guidance are as follows:
- All positive, negative and inconclusive test results from NAAT (RT-PCR) testing conducted in a facility certified under CLIA to perform moderate or high complexity tests should be reported electronically within 24 hours of results being known through the Wisconsin Electronic Disease Surveillance System (WEDSS) or by fax to the patient's local health department.
- Facilities conducting all other SARS-COV-2 testing g (e.g., testing conducted in a setting operating under a CLIA certificate of waiver, non-NAAT testing conducted in a facility certified under CLIA to perform moderate- or high-complexity tests), excluding antibody and self-administered tests, should report positive test results to the appropriate STLT health department. Reporting negatives for these tests is optional.
- Reporting test results from antibody and self-administered tests is not required
- COVID-19 related hospitalizations and deaths are reportable (PDF) in Wisconsin.
In Wisconsin, all results should be reported electronically through WEDSS or by fax to the patient’s local health department. Facilities who wish to have DHS report to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on their behalf must report test results electronically to the WEDSS. Reporting can occur through already-established electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) connections, or by establishing a web-based laboratory reporting (WLR) connection
COVID-19 surveillance case definition
Note: The COVID-19 Surveillance Case Definition is a set of uniform criteria used to define COVID-19 disease or infection for public health surveillance, which enables public health officials to classify and count cases consistently across reporting jurisdictions. This surveillance case definition is not intended to be used by healthcare providers for making a clinical diagnosis, determining who should be tested for COVID-19, or determining how to meet an individual patient’s health needs.
People with confirmed COVID-19 infections (also known as SARS-CoV-2) can have a wide range of symptoms, from asymptomatic infection to severe illness. Mild to moderate illness may include fever, sore throat, headache, myalgia, fatigue, and upper respiratory symptoms. Some people also have gastrointestinal symptoms including nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. Symptoms of more severe illness may include, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, confusion or change in mental status, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone, or inability to wake or stay awake. In rare cases, people with COVID-19 may experience complications, such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).
Those at highest risk for severe disease and death include people aged over 60 years (especially those 85 years and older) and those with underlying conditions, including but not limited to obesity, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory or kidney disease, immunosuppression from solid organ transplant, and sickle cell disease. A complete list can be found on CDC’s COVID-19 People with Certain Medical Conditions webpage. Disease in children mostly appears to be relatively mild, and there is evidence that a significant proportion of infections across all age groups are asymptomatic, or presymptomatic at the time of testing. The incubation period of COVID-19 disease ranges from 1-14 days after infection, with an average time from infection to clinical illness of 5-6 days.
Clinical criteria for surveillance
Acute onset or worsening of at least two of the following signs or symptoms:
- Fever (measured or subjective), or chills, or rigors (shaking chills)
- Myalgia (muscle aches)
- Sore throat
- Nausea or vomiting
- Congestion or runny nose
Acute onset or worsening of at least one of the following signs or symptoms:
- Shortness of breath
- Difficulty breathing
- New olfactory disorder (loss of smell)
- New taste disorder (loss of taste)
- New confusion or change in mental status
- Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
- Pale, gray, or blue-colored skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
- Inability to wake or stay awake
Severe respiratory illness with at least one of the following:
- Clinical or radiographic evidence of pneumonia
- Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
No alternative more likely diagnosis.
Laboratory evidence for surveillance
Confirmatory laboratory evidence:
- Detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in a clinical specimen or post-mortem respiratory swab using a diagnostic molecular amplification detection test (for example, PCR, LAMP, NAAT) performed by a CLIA-certified provider, or
- Detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA by genomic sequencing
Probable laboratory evidence: Detection of SARS-CoV-2 by antigen in a clinical specimen or post-mortem respiratory swab using a diagnostic test performed by a CLIA-certified provider.
Supportive laboratory evidence:
- Detection of antibody in serum, plasma, or whole blood specific to natural infection with SARS-CoV-2 (antibody to nucleocapsid protein), or
- Detection of specific antigen by immunocytochemistry in an autopsy specimen, or
- Detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA or specific antigen using a test performed without CLIA oversight (for example, at-home test)
Epidemiologic evidence for surveillance
Any one of the following exposures in the 14 days before onset of symptoms or positive lab test:
- Close contact* with a confirmed OR probable case of COVID-19 disease.
- Member of an exposed risk cohort as defined by public health authorities during an outbreak or during high community transmission
*For non-healthcare workers in a community setting, a person is considered to be in close contact of a COVID-19 case if any of following interactions occurred while the case was infectious:
- Was within 6 feet for more than 15 minutes total in a 24-hour period,
- Had physical contact,
- Had direct contact with the respiratory secretions of the infected individual (from coughing, sneezing, contact with dirty tissue, shared drinking glass, food, towels or other personal items), (4) lives with or stayed overnight for at least one night in a household without complete separation from the infected individual.
For healthcare workers, refer to CDC’s Guidance for Risk Assessment and Work Restrictions for Healthcare Personnel with Potential Exposure to COVID-19 to determine whether an interaction should be considered close contact.
Vital records criteria for surveillance
A death certificate that lists COVID-19 disease or SARS-CoV-2 as an underlying cause of death or a significant condition contributing to death.
Surveillance case definitions for COVID-19
Meets confirmatory laboratory evidence
Meets clinical criteria and epidemiologic evidence with no confirmatory or probable lab evidence for SARS-CoV-2 (i.e., no confirmatory or probable lab evidence = molecular or antigen testing was not performed or was performed without CLIA oversight or was performed but results are uninterpretable, such as indeterminate or invalid)
Meets probable laboratory evidence
Meets vital records criteria
Meets supportive laboratory evidence with no prior history of being a confirmed or probable case.
Criteria to distinguish a new case of COVID-19 from an existing case
The following should be enumerated as a new case:
- SARS-CoV-2 sequencing results from the new positive specimen and a positive specimen from the most recent previous case demonstrate a different lineage, or
- Person was most recently enumerated as a confirmed or probable case with onset date (if available) or first positive specimen collection date for that classification >90 days prior* (i.e., an existing confirmed or probable case is, again after 90 days, meeting criteria for either a confirmed or probable case), or
- Person was previously reported but not enumerated as a confirmed or probable case (i.e., suspect)**, but now meets the criteria for a confirmed or probable case.
*Some individuals, (for example, severely immunocompromised persons) can shed SARS-CoV-2 detected by molecular amplification tests >90 days after infection. For severely immunocompromised individuals, clinical judgment should be used to determine if a repeat positive test is likely to result from long-term shedding and, therefore, not be enumerated as a new case. CDC defines severe immunocompromise as certain conditions, such as being on chemotherapy for cancer, untreated human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection with CD4 T lymphocyte count 20mg/day for more than 14 days.
**Repeat suspect cases should not be enumerated.
Note: The time period of 90 days may be extended further if more data become available to show risk of reinfection remains low beyond 90 days of the initial report.
- COVID-19 Testing: What to Know, P-02848
- COVID-19 Antigen Testing, P-02830
- COVID-19 Self-Tests, P03090
Health care providers are encouraged to obtain COVID-19 testing for all symptomatic patients, even patients with mild symptoms. It is also encouraged to test everyone, regardless of vaccination status, that had a known exposure at least 5 days after their last close contact.
Providers should educate patients who are being tested for an acute COVID-19 infection about how to properly isolate themselves and are encouraged to share DHS’s What should I do if I was tested for COVID-19 and am awaiting results?
All patients who are suspected of having COVID-19 should be reminded to notify their close contacts of a potential exposure.
Access to testing
DHS has emergency supplies available at no charge to qualifying Wisconsin clinicians, local and tribal health centers, clinical laboratories, and others collecting specimens in response to COVID-19. The supplies and laboratory services are available for testing symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals. Decisions to test asymptomatic persons should be informed by public health or clinical priorities for a facility or region. For more information about what is available and to make a request, visit the DHS COVID-19 Testing Supplies Request webpage.
Testing at a public health laboratory
Wisconsin’s two public health labs testing for COVID-19, the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH) and Milwaukee Health Department Laboratory (MHDL) (PDF), have worked with DHS to develop a priority list for public health lab testing for COVID-19. This list is NOT intended for use by clinicians or clinical or commercial labs for determining testing priority in the community or in their facility.
To conserve resources for testing in public health labs, WSLH and MHDL are only testing samples for the following patients:
- Public Health Investigations as directed by state or local public health
- Hospitalized patient with COVID-19 symptoms
- Patient with COVID-19 symptoms for whom rapid diagnosis is needed to inform infection control practices (for example, labor and delivery, dialysis, aerosol-generating procedures)
- Resident of a long-term care facility with COVID-19 symptoms
- Resident in a jail, prison, or other congregate setting with COVID-19 symptoms
- Health care worker or first Responder (for example, fire, EMS, police) with COVID-19 symptoms
- Essential staff in high consequence congregate settings (for example, prisons or jails) with COVID-19 symptoms
- Utility workers (water, sewer, gas, electric, power, distribution of raw materials, oil and biofuel refining) with COVID-19 symptoms
- Underserved populations with poor access to testing (for example, underinsured, patients at Federally Qualified Health Centers, homeless patients, migrant workers) with COVID-19 symptoms
- Post-mortem testing for a person with COVID-19 symptoms prior to death who died of unknown causes AND where results would influence infection control interventions at a facility or inform a public health response
Providers may send specimens to WSLH or MHDL only if they meet Wisconsin public health laboratory testing priorities listed above. If equivalent or more rapid turnaround is available through an in-house or commercial lab, providers are encouraged to use these other laboratory options.
Testing for patients who do not meet one of the Wisconsin public health laboratory priorities listed above, but for whom testing is requested by a provider, should have their specimen submitted to in-house, commercial, or reference labs for testing.
Responses to common questions about testing
Are serology (antibody test) results for SARS-CoV-2 also reportable?
DHS does not require any serology (antibody test) results to be reported.
Where should I send specimens?
Many commercial and clinical labs are now performing COVID-19 testing. If your health system is performing large numbers of tests (such as drive-through testing sites, testing of ill health care workers), these specimens should be sent to commercial or in-house labs. See the WSLH website for a list of Wisconsin reference labs accepting outside specimens.
How will we get patient results?
As with other testing, clinicians can expect results to be communicated directly from the lab. Please do not contact DHS or your local health department for test results.
How will my patient get their results?
As with other testing, clinicians should share test results with patients directly. Please do NOT tell patients to contact their local health department, lab, or DHS for test results, or updates on the status of their testing.
What are other testing considerations?
- The number of health care providers present during the procedure should be limited to those essential for patient care and procedure support. Visitors should not be present for specimen collection. Specimen collection should be performed in a normal examination room with the door closed.
- Specimen collection should be done by trained individuals.
- The ordering provider is responsible for receiving COVID-19 test results from the laboratory and communicating the result to the patient.
Caring for health care workers exposed or diagnosed with COVID-19
For the most current recommendations on exposure, testing, isolation, and return to work criteria for health care workers visit CDC's Interim Guidance for Managing Healthcare Personnel with SARS-CoV-2 Infection or Exposure to SARS-CoV-2.
Who is considered a health care worker or health care personnel?
The following definition of health care workers (HCWs) was adapted from the CDC definition of a HCW and is broader than the common use of the phrase. The following should not be used as an exhaustive list but instead is intended to provide examples of the broad range of activities and job responsibilities that should be included in the definition of health care worker for the purposes of responding to COVID-19. The definition should also not be restricted to employees of a facility or agency, but should also be applied to volunteers.
HCWs include, but are not limited to: emergency medical service personnel, nurses, nursing assistants, physicians, technicians, therapists, phlebotomists, pharmacists, dentists, laboratorians, students and trainees, aides, caregiver, others who provide care or services, contractual staff not employed by the healthcare facility, and persons not directly involved in patient care, but who could be exposed to infectious agents that can be transmitted in the healthcare setting (for example, clerical, dietary, environmental services, laundry, security, engineering and facilities management, administrative, billing, and volunteer personnel). This definition would also include workers who provide these services or serve these roles in a home or group health setting.
Infection prevention and control recommendations for HCWs
For current recommendations on infection prevention and control practices in health care settings, refer to CDC's Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Additional resource for HCWs
Ensuring that immunization services, including influenza vaccine services, are maintained or reinitiated is essential for protecting people and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks, and for reducing the burden of illness during influenza season.
The CDC has issued Interim Guidance for Immunization Services During the COVID-19 Pandemic to help immunization providers in a variety of clinical settings plan for safe vaccine administration during the COVID-19 pandemic. This guidance will be updated as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves.
- Considerations for routine administration of all recommended vaccinations for children, adolescents, and adults, including pregnant people.
- General practices for the safe delivery of vaccination services, including considerations for alternative vaccination sites.
- Strategies for catch-up vaccinations.
Supporting adherence to isolation
For the most up-to-date isolation guidance, refer to CDC.
Isolation plays a critical role in containing the spread of COVID-19. Health care providers can promote patient adherence to isolation by providing educational materials and referring to the local or tribal health department to provide support.
Patient education materials
Support from local and tribal health departments
Isolation is required per state statute. If there is reason to believe that an individual may not voluntarily abide by isolation recommendations, local and tribal health departments can assist by evaluating the individual's circumstances that make nonadherence likely. Local and tribal health departments may be able to provide linkages to available resources that can support adherence to isolation.
If individuals demonstrate they are unwilling to voluntarily isolate, health officers may issue an isolation or isolation order. If the person fails to comply, the health officer may petition a court to order compliance. Anyone who willfully violates laws relating to public health may be subject to 30 days in jail or fined not more than $500, or both.
Memos issued by DHS
Below is a listing of all memos issued by DHS containing guidance for COVID-19.
|Official Number||Description||Issue Date||Attachments||Obsolete Date|
||Recommendations for COVID-19 Prevention and Mitigation Among Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers (En Espanol)||September 1, 2022|
||At-Home COVID-19 Antigen Testing Use and Reporting||July 19, 2022|
||COVID-19 Vaccination for Wisconsin’s Youngest Children - To Pediatricians||June 17, 2022|
||COVID-19 Vaccination for Wisconsin’s Youngest Children - To Pharmacists||June 17, 2022|
BCD 2022-08: Replaced by
||Recommendations for COVID-19 Prevention and Mitigation Among Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers||June 3, 2022||
September 1, 2022
BCD 2022-08a: Replaced by
||Recommendations for COVID-19 Prevention and Mitigation Among Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Workers (En Espanol)||June 3, 2022||
September 1, 2022
||COVID-19 Oral Antivirals Medications for Long-Term Care Residents||May 6, 2022|
||Updated SARS-CoV-2 Laboratory Data Reporting Guidance Effective April 4, 2022||April 25, 2022|
||Standing Order for Distribution of COVID-19 At-Home Antigen Test Kits||January 26, 2022|
||Prioritization of Highest Impact Public Health Response Activities||January 21, 2022|
BCD 2021-13: Replaced by
||Prevention and Control of Acute Respiratory Illness Outbreaks in Long-Term Care Facilities||December 22, 2021||
July 28, 2022
||Public Health Advisory: Anticipated Surge in COVID-19 Disease Activity due to Omicron Variant||December 20, 2021|
||Increased Incidence of Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children||November 8, 2021|
||Standing Prescription Order for COVID-19 Vaccines||September 22, 2021|
||Revised COVID-19 Monoclonal Antibody Ordering Process||September 21, 2021|
BCD-2021-03: Memo replaced by
||Public Health Reporting Requirements for At-Home COVID-19 Tests||June 16, 2021||
July 19, 2022
||CMS 1135 Waiver Provisions – Acute Hospital Care at Home Program||January 12, 2021|
||DHS recommends testing migrant and seasonal workers for COVID-19 prior to departure at the end of the work season||November 12, 2020||
June 3, 2022
||Child Care Provider Temporary Closures Due to COVID-19||October 30, 2020|
||Guidance Related to Viral Whole Genome Sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 for the Public Health Response||October 1, 2020|
BCD 2020-27: Memo replaced by
||Prevention and Control of Acute Respiratory Illness Outbreaks in Long-Term Care Facilities||September 23, 2020||
December 13, 2021
BCD-2020-26: Memo replaced by
||Prevention and Control of Acute Respiratory Illness Outbreaks in Long-Term Care Facilities||September 17, 2020||
September 23, 2020
||Crisis Standards of Practice for COVID-19 Contact Tracing and Symptom Monitoring||September 15, 2020|
||Request for Applications: Behavioral Health Treatment for Long-Term Care Facility Staff Impacted by COVID-19||June 22, 2020||
August 1, 2020
||Guidance on the Role of COVID-19 Testing in Decisions Around Transfers From Acute Care Hospitals to Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Facilities||June 9, 2020|
||Guidance on the Transfer of Hospitalized Patients Infected with COVID-19 to Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Facilities||June 9, 2020|
||Guidance on the disposition of medically stable post-acute and long-term care residents with confirmed or clinically suspected COVID-19 infection||June 9, 2020|
||Wisconsin Hospices CMS 1135 Waiver Provisions and Governor Evers Emergency Order # 21||June 8, 2020|
||Wisconsin Nursing Homes – CMS 1135 Waiver Provisions and Governor Evers Executive Order # 21||June 8, 2020|
||Wisconsin Home Health Agencies – CMS 1135 Waiver Provisions and Governor Evers Emergency Order # 21||June 8, 2020|
||Licensure/Certification Application for Temporary Assisted Living Facility Expansion Units and Transfer Options during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency State||May 29, 2020|
||Guidance to Coroners and Medical Examiners on Postmortem COVID-19 Testing at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene and the Milwaukee Health Department Laboratory||May 29, 2020|
||Applications for Awards to Address Behavioral Health Needs Arising from the COVID-19 Pandemic||May 19, 2020||
June 2, 2020
||State Licensure Application for Temporary Nursing Facility Expansion Units and Transfer Options during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency||May 1, 2020|
||Use of Remote Support Providers in Regulated Adult Family Homes||April 24, 2020||
April 5, 2022
||Guidance for Ambulatory Surgical Centers Temporarily Enrolling as a Hospital During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency||April 16, 2020|
||CMS 1135 Waiver Provisions – Wisconsin Hospitals||April 6, 2020|
||Changes to COVID-19 Reporting Requirements for Wisconsin Hospitals and Health Departments||April 6, 2020|
||State Licensure Application for Temporary Expansion Locations during Public Health Emergency related to COVID-19||April 3, 2020|
||Minimum Contact Standards for Support and Service Coordination: New Requirements Necessitated by the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic||April 2, 2020||
September 1, 2021
||Information for Dental Health Care Professionals (DHCP): What You Need to Know about Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)||March 20, 2020|
||Important Information for Recipients of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) from the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS)||March 20, 2020|
||Important Guidance for Infection Prevention and Control of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) (REVISED) in Long-Term Care Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities||March 20, 2020|
||Updated guidance for local health departments and government partners about home isolation and quarantine for COVID-19||March 19, 2020|
||What to do if someone breaks quarantine: Guidance for Local Health Departments (LHDs)||March 19, 2020|
||Ryan White Part B and Life Care Services Emergency Financial Assistance Policy in Response to COVID-19||March 18, 2020|
||Adult/Juvenile Correctional Facilities, Local Jails, and Secure Treatment Centers in Wisconsin Guidance for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)||March 18, 2020|
||Urgent Update – Prioritization of COVID-19 Testing for Hospitalized Patients||March 17, 2020|
||Important Recommendations for Prevention of COVID-19 in Long-Term Care Facilities and Assisted Living Facilities||March 13, 2020||
March 20, 2020
||Public Health Guidance for Discontinuation of Home Isolation and Voluntary Home Quarantine for Individuals Infected with or Exposed to COVID-19||March 13, 2020|
Dental health care professionals guidance
Wisconsin dental professionals infection control guidance
The CDC and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recognize that the practice of dentistry presents unique challenges when working in our current COVID-19 environment and beyond. Public health guidance shifts as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. All dental professionals should regularly check for updates to guidance for dental settings as well as the general infection prevention and control recommendations.
The updated Infection Control Guidance for Healthcare Professionals about Coronavirus (COVID-19) is applicable to all settings where healthcare is delivered, including Wisconsin dental settings. Dental health care personnel (DHCP) should refer to this and OSHA's standards and guidance on workplace hazards related to the current coronavirus pandemic.
To assist dental practices implementing the guidance, the Organization for Safety, Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) and DentaQuest Partnership for Oral Health Advancement (DQP) have released Best Practices for Infection Control in Dental Practices During the COVID-19 Pandemic, a checklist to assist DHCP with implementing interim guidance. Designed as a fillable PDF, the checklist is printable and mobile-friendly.
Each dental practice should have a COVID-19 policy, written respiratory protection program, and documentation of staff training. Document DHCP training on updates and changes prior to seeing patients. PPE recommendations are determined by your local COVID-19 disease activity.
DHS COVID-19 Summary Data: This webpage provides up to date data regarding Wisconsin shows COVID-19 Community Levels and summary statistics.
Caring for pregnant people
- The CDC outlines interim considerations for infection prevention and control of 2019 Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in inpatient obstetric healthcare settings.
- Data on COVID-19 during pregnancy has been made available by the CDC.
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG) has practice guidelines for health care providers who see pregnant women.
- Wisconsin Association of Perinatal Care has information and resources for the perinatal care community, including professionals.
Home visiting programs
Have a plan
Develop plans and policies to provide a balance of in-person and virtual home visiting in response to COVID-19. Agency-specific circumstances, program requirements, funding limitations, and local conditions will inform the plan. The plan also needs to acknowledge and focus on family choice since these services are voluntary. The following activities will support the planning process:
- Assure home visiting services are addressed in the local continuity of operations plan or emergency preparedness plan. The purpose of the plan is to:
- Respond to disasters and public health emergencies.
- Continue priority activities in emergencies.
- Restore programs and services after emergencies.
- Provide for leadership succession and organization in any situation.
- Redirect services and programs.
- Assign staff to response activities and priority services.
- Stay up to date with CDC guidelines, state and local recommendations, and media messaging.
- Reach out to local/tribal health departments and other agencies and partner programs that send staff into homes to identify and align with their practices.
- Monitor ForwardHealth updates for Medicaid-covered services.
- Continue to talk with funders, models, and agencies about their requirements and recommendations and how they impact the provision of services.
- Get input from parent leaders related to family choice. Work with partners to think about how to share that input with funders, agencies, and models.
- Work with local programs and home visitors on the ground to get their input about concerns or questions. Work with partners to share that input with funders, agencies, and models.
- Assure the home visiting workforce and families have access to well-fitting masks.
- Assure families have access to technology for telehealth visits.
- Per Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights guidance, providers can use audio or video communication technology to provide telehealth to patients during the COVID-19 public health emergency. Health care providers will not be subject to penalties for violations of the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules that occur in the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.
- The current model recommendation for Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting programs in Wisconsin is to support the continuation of services via telecommunication/telehealth, such as telephone or video communication.
- Models include Nurse Family Partnership, Parents as Teachers, Early Head Start, Healthy Families America. For most updated model information visit: https://www.nationalalliancehvmodels.org/rapid-response
- Model-specific recommendations will be continually updated as any new information is received from the CDC and the federal government.
- Medicaid allows real-time technology, including phone communication, for currently covered services that can be delivered with functional equivalency to face-to-face services. This applies to all components of prenatal care coordination (PNCC) including assessment, care planning, case management, health education and nutrition counseling, and postpartum services. Telehealth resources are available on the ForwardHealth website.
Best practice policies and procedures include the following:
- Home visiting programs assess staff and clients for symptoms of COVID-19 infection prior to entering a home.
- Home visiting staff and clients follow safety precautions related to physical distancing, hand washing and the use of cloth face coverings.
- If any person within the home is found to be ill, they are referred for testing and medical care and the visit is conducted via telehealth options.
- Staff at high risk of severe COVID-19 complications (those who are older or have underlying health conditions) avoid conducting in-person home visits with sick clients.
- If a home visitor develops signs and symptoms of illness while on the job or after providing a home visit, they notify their supervisor and follow current CDC and local and state health department guidance.
- All non-dedicated, non-disposable medical equipment used for patient care (such as scales, stethoscope, developmental screening tools) should be cleaned and disinfected according to manufacturer’s instructions and facility policies.
Preparing for a home visit
Home visitors need to inform families about safety measures for in-person visits. For more information, see the handout COVID-19: Protecting Yourself During a Home Visit, P-02664. The home visitor should make the final decision as to their ability to maintain safety and wellbeing of all participants; for themselves and families during a home visit.&
Training and resources
- CDC recommends that home visiting health care personnel refer to Infection Control Guidance.
- CDC has information for direct service providers caring for people with disabilities. Direct service providers include personal care attendants, direct support professionals, paraprofessionals, therapists, and others who provide a wide variety of home and community-based, health-related services.
- CDC also as a page for children with special needs.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics addresses face coverings for children.
- Home visiting and PNCC providers should contact their local/tribal health department for questions and frequently review the CDC website dedicated to COVID-19 for health care professionals.
- Maternal, Infant, and Children Home Visiting website
- The Association for Maternal and Child Health Programs has compiled information specific to the MCH population during the pandemic.
- Wisconsin Association for Perinatal Care resources and webinars
- The Well Badger Resource Center is ready to assist families impacted by COVID-19. To contact an information and referral specialist call 1-800-642-7837, text 608-360-9328 or email.
Ensuring that infection prevention and control (IPC) practices are followed and maintained during the COVID-19 pandemic is critical in preventing the spread of disease.
The CDC has issued interim guidance for health care personnel in all settings during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations for Healthcare Personnel During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic
- Interim Guidance for Managing Healthcare Personnel with SARS-CoV-2 Infection or Exposure to SARS-CoV-2
- Strategies to Mitigate Healthcare Personnel Staffing Shortages
Additional infection prevention and control considerations and recommendations for specific settings can be found in the Interim Infection Prevention and Control Recommendations. Specific settings include, dialysis facilities, emergency medical services, dental facilities, nursing homes, and assisted livings, group homes, and other residential care settings (excluding nursing homes). Find additional COVID-19 guidance for nursing homes and assisted living facilities from DHS.
Additional COVID-19 infection prevention and personal protective equipment factsheets can be found on the COVID-19: Communication Resources webpage.
It is the responsibility of pharmacies conducting COVID-19 testing to report patient information to public health when a patient comes to be tested. This is because health care providers, including pharmacists, are required to report communicable diseases to public health. See Wis. Stat. ch. 252.05 and Wis. Admin Code. ch. DHS 145.
In Wisconsin, all results should be reported electronically through WEDSS or by fax to the patient’s local health department. Facilities who wish to have DHS report to HHS on their behalf must report test results electronically to the WEDSS. Reporting can occur through already-established electronic laboratory reporting (ELR) connections, or by establishing a web-based laboratory reporting (WLR) connection.
Required laboratory reporting
In addition to reporting communicable disease information to public health, if a pharmacy is a laboratory, they must report the results of the COVID-19 tests for each patient to the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene. The Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene has two ways to report test results to them: Electronic Laboratory Reporting (ELR) and Web-based Laboratory Reporting (WLR). Unless the laboratory has the ability to upload HL7 2.5.1 reportable laboratory results, they should use WLR to enter laboratory results; WLR is available for all laboratories. Pharmacies must register for a WLR account, and register through the Account request for web-based laboratory reporting webpage.
The laboratory must either manually enter data into WLR or upload a tab delimited text file within 24 hours of processing the test results. When information is entered into WLR, the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene ensures required information is reported to required state (WEDSS) and federal reporting systems.
To learn more about reporting into WLR, watch the Wisconsin State Lab of Hygiene training video.
To access WEDSS, you must complete the following steps:
- Secure a Wisconsin Logon Management System (WILMS) account.
- Enter your work email address in the prompt. If you do NOT have a WILMS ID, you will receive an error message.
- If you don't have a WILMS account, you can create one. Use your work email address and choose "WEDSS" as the system you will access.
- Get access to WEDSS.
- Email DHS WEDSS with your WILMS login ID and email address. The subject line of the email should be "WEDSS Access."
- DHS will forward the WEDSS User Security policy and, if applicable, the Security and Confidentiality policy. Return the signature page by email or fax.
- DHS will email you your WEDSS access, your account information, a temporary password, training information, and how to change your temporary password.
- You must notify your local health department that you are using WEDSS. WEDSS data is sent to the Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC.
- The Department of Health Services website has an instructional video on how to sign up for WILMS and WEDSS.
Informing the patient of test results
A pharmacy will typically be responsible for contacting patients with their test results regardless of whether they are only collecting the specimens or are also a CLIA-waived laboratory. However, if a pharmacy contracts with an external laboratory to process tests, they can choose to negotiate this point; in which case, the external laboratory would reach out to patients with their test results. In discussions with local and tribal public health, pharmacists should ask about their process for notifying patients of both positive and negative results to ensure that the pharmacy's internal practice for notifying patients is complementary.
Mental health guidance
Coping tips for those serving on the frontlines
Throughout Wisconsin, frontline workers provide essential health and safety services that keep our communities functioning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Braving increased risks to help others is part of their jobs, but it can come with a cost. Routine stress, added to the rational concern many frontline workers have for their own health and the well-being of their loved ones, can leave these professionals—and their families—vulnerable to the negative effects of secondary trauma and other mental and behavioral health challenges, like suicidal thoughts and harmful substance use.
Finding healthy ways to cope with challenges is more important than ever. Resilient Wisconsin offers strategies for practicing self-care, maintaining social connections, and reducing stress and anxiety.
Try these five strategies
- Build a solid foundation: Invest in your health with adequate sleep, good nutrition, regular physical activity, and active relaxation.
- Connect with colleagues: Celebrate successes and mourn sorrows with your co-workers as a group.
- Take breaks: Time away from work, whenever possible, can help you see beyond the immediate crisis.
- Stay connected: Communicate with friends and family as often as you can, even if you are practicing self-isolation.
- Talk it out: Consider talking about your experiences and emotions with a trusted peer or mental or behavioral health professional. It’s okay to reach out for support, and talking can help.
Resources to help you manage stress and adapt to change
For frontline workers
Balancing your duty to the clients and patients in your care with your own mental, physical, and emotional health needs isn’t easy. Learn how to manage and reduce stress of providing care during the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent secondary trauma from negatively impacting your personal and professional life by exploring the resources below:
- Social workers on the front line of COVID-19
- Support for health care workers
- Emotional and Organizational Support for Staff
- Improving first responder well-being during the COVID-19 outbreak (PDF)
- Taking care of your family during coronavirus and other emerging infectious disease outbreaks (PDF)
- Understanding compassion fatigue (PDF)
- Preventing and managing stress (PDF)
- Returning to work after a disaster (PDF)
For families of frontline workers
Frontline workers aren’t the only ones who experience stress while providing essential health and safety services during large-scale emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. That stress is shared by the loved ones around them. Learn how to recognize toxic stress and build a support system that helps everyone in your circle offer and ask for support by exploring the resources below:
- Supporting families of health care workers exposed to COVID-19 (PDF)
- Helping child cope with emergencies
- Five things you should know about stress
- Five actions steps for helping someone in emotional pain
- Identifying substance misuse in the responder community (PDF)
- Tips for survivors of a disaster or traumatic event: What to expect in your personal, family, work, and financial life (PDF)
- When a loved one dies from COVID-19 (PDF)
- COVID coach app
UW-Madison Research Participation Opportunity for Protecting Healthcare Workers from COVID-19. The research is titled, "Role of naso-oropharyngeal antiseptic decolonization to reduce covid-19 viral shedding and disease transmission." For more information on how to enroll, visit the Shield Research Study.