COVID-19 Testing Information

COVID-19 Testing Information & Resources

We understand you are facing a number of challenges right now regarding COVID-19, however, testing is still an integral part of controlling the spread of COVID-19 through assisted living facilities. We've included a list of resources regarding obtaining testing supplies and current guidance below.

Requesting COVID-19 BinaxNOW Point of Care Antigen Tests and Molecular

DHS announced its increased support of COVID-19 testing in nursing homes and Assisted Living Facilities by introducing the ability to request BinaxNOW antigen tests, in addition to the distribution received by some facilities directly from the DHS and Abbott.

Which type of test should you use?

Antigen tests are best used in outbreak testing and testing of symptomatic individuals. Lab-based molecular testing continues to be the "gold-standard".
The BinaxNOW tests may be appropriate if preferred testing is not available in a timely manner.

How to request BinaxNOW tests

Facilities are invited to request a supply not to exceed what will be used in a two-week period to support staff and resident testing strategy. Tests are not intended to test visitors and family. To order BinaxNOW tests from the state, complete the BinaxNOW Antigen Test Request form. Requests are reviewed and distributed weekly.

Qualified facilities must:

  • Be licensed, registered, or certified by DHS
  • Maintain a current CLIA certificate or waiver
  • Have access to molecular Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing

If your facility is conducting molecular PCR lab based testing with a state sponsored lab for routine and/or outbreak testing, you are still eligible to request BinaxNOW tests from the state inventory. Any questions related to this program can be sent to DHSCOVIDBinax@dhs.wisconsin.gov.

How to request molecular PCR tests

Nursing homes, Community-Based Residential Facilities (CBRFs), and Adult Family Homes (AFHs) are eligible to receive state funded molecular PCR tests for routine COVID-19 surveillance testing. This is voluntary for ALFs and not required by CMS or the state. Outbreak testing will still be provided to all ALFs upon request, including Residential Care Apartment Complexes (RCAC). Any questions regarding molecular PCR tests can be sent to WICOVID19TestingCollectionSupplies@wisconsin.gov.

If you've never requested PCR supplies are are not paired with a lab, please complete and submit the Assisted Living COVID-19 Testing survey. If you have completed the survey and have been paired with a lab, orders can be placed through the State of Wisconsin COVID-19 website.

Refer to DHS COVID-19 Health Alert #17 for further information on the use of antigen tests.


Request for CBRFs & Licensed 3-4 bed AFHs to Complete Survey of Intent to Participate in Expanded Testing

The State of Wisconsin COVID-19 Testing Team is happy to announce the ability to begin supporting routine COVID-19 surveillance testing (every 14 days) to Community-Based Residential Facilities (CBRFs) and licensed Adult Family Homes (AFHs). This is a voluntary opt-in program that will be offered to facilities. For additional information, please see the Wisconsin Department of Health Services bulletin sent 12/22/2020.

Outbreak testing will still be provided to all Assisted Living Facilities upon request, including Residential Care Apartment Complexes (RCAC).

  • Please complete the following survey to indicate your facility's intention to opt-in or out of this expanded testing opportunity. Facilities which opt-in will be contacted by the Department of Health Services as laboratory resources become available.

Beginning January 11, the Department of Health Services will begin contacting medium (9-20 residents) and large (<21 residents) CBRFs who have opted-in to the testing program. These facilities will be paired with a lab partner to support routine COVID-19 testing (every 14 days) for their staff.

For licensed AFHs and small CBRFs (5-8 residents) who indicate their intention to opt-in to COVID-19 testing supported by the State of Wisconsin, the Department of Health Services will select 10-20 facilities to pilot a new at-home swab collection kit to support their testing.

Please submit your questions to WICOVIDTEST@Wisconsin.gov.


Standing order now available for rapid point-of-care COVID testing - October 29, 2020

The State of Wisconsin Department of Health Services Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Ryan Westergaard, MD, PhD, MPH issued a standing order that allows assisted living facilities with a CLIA Waiver to utilize rapid, point-of-care (POC) COVID-19 testing on residents and employees. This includes the antigen tests provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

We urge you to please read this announcement and the order in its entirety as it outlines specific requirements that must be met in order to facilitate the POC COVID-19 testing.

The Assisted Living COVID-19 Testing Guidance, P-02768 (PDF) is based on the State of Wisconsin Testing Framework, P-02709 (PDF).

Based on the Assisted Living COVID-19 Testing Guidance, P-02768 (PDF), facilities should develop plans to:

  • Ensure testing of residents or staff with symptoms of COVID-19 and any residents or staff who have had close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19.

  • Ensure notification to local/tribal public health department to coordinate facility wide testing if an outbreak occurs (defined as 1 or more staff or residents that tests positive). To prepare for the possibility of outbreak testing, facilities should review the asymptomatic testing information outlined in the Assisted Living COVID-19 Testing Guidance, P-02768 (PDF). Facilities may also contact their local/tribal public health department to identify community resources if they anticipate they will need assistance with sample collection.

If residents or staff are symptomatic or test positive for COVID-19, facilities are also encouraged to review DHS guidance for:

Testing forms


Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Testing for Assisted Living

The HHS Abbott BinaxNOW Team has provided the following information following their recent Assisted Living Webinar. Please note that the recorded webinar is expected to be available soon. Click here for the webinar slides.

Contact Information:
  • To report shipping issues / order quality concerns (these should be sent to Abbott at: ARDxUSGovernmentSupport@abbott.com)
  • For technical usage questions about the BinaxNOW™ test, contact Abbott directly at: Technical support: ts.scr@abbott.com or 1-800-257-9525
  • For all other questions related to your distribution, please contact HHSBINAX@hhs.gov, this inbox was established to coordinate the distribution of government procured Abbott BinaxNOW™kits. This inbox should NOT be used to request kits for facilities not currently receiving these tests.
Useful Links:

For training videos & documentation and other important links, please refer to the following information:

  • For access to access training videos and documents, please visit the BinaxNOW™ COVID-19 Ag Card and NAVICA™ App Set-Up and Training portal.
  • For CLIA FAQs and information, click here.
  • For policy regarding performance of antigen tests authorized by the FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) at the point of care or in patient care settings operating under a CLIA Certificate of Waiver, please refer to CMS’s policy here and PREP Act guidance here.
  • For FDA recommendations to health care providers who are ordering authorized tests outside their authorization (e.g., antigen tests for asymptomatic individuals), please see FDA’s FAQ on Testing for SARS-CoV-2.

Reporting Requirements for BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Tests in Assisted Living Facilities

On September 14, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) began shipping BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Tests, also referred to as point-of-care antigen tests, to designated Assisted Living Facilities to conduct rapid testing of staff and residents for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. These tests should not be confused with the Polymerase Chain Reactions (PCR) tests.

COVID-19 is a reportable disease in Wisconsin. Assisted Living Facilities must report cases of COVID-19 to local/tribal health departments within 24 hours. Facilities must meet state and federal reporting requirements for all test results as indicated below.

State reporting requirements:
  • Assisted Living Facilities are required to report positive laboratory test results from point-of-care antigen tests, i.e. BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Tests, to the local/tribal public health departments within 24 hours.
  • Facilities are not required to report negative results to local/tribal public health departments or to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) at this time.
  • Guidance about COVID-19 reporting requirements may be found at: DHS COVID-19 Health Care Providers - Reporting and Surveillance.
Federal reporting requirements:
  • Assisted Living Facilities that received, and are using, BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen testing supplies from the federal government, are required to report both positive and negative test results to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in accordance with federal guidance. For additional information see: COVID-19 Rapid Point-Of-Care Test Distribution
  • Assisted Living Facilities using BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Tests must report test results the same day they perform the test.
Report to all organizations at the same time:
  • Assisted Living Facilities who wish to have results sent to local/tribal public health departments, DHS, and CDC (a branch of HHS) simultaneously, may report results, positive and negative, electronically by Web-based Laboratory Reporting (WLR) or pre-existing Electronic Laboratory Reporting (ELR) connections.
  • The Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH) facilitates this effort and recently presented an informational webinar on WLR reporting and has a request form to begin the sign-up process for WLR reporting.
  • Results reported via WLR or ELR will be forwarded to DHS, local/tribal public health departments, and the CDC.
  • Questions regarding WLR may be referred to Mary Wedig at Mary.Wedig@slh.wisc.edu or 608-224-4274.

For more information on the use of COVID-19 antigen tests and reporting requirement, please refer to Health Alert #17.