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State, national leaders speak out against diversion of testing supplies

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Wausau, Wis. (WAOW) -- In a letter to Vice President Mike Pence, Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin (D) urged him to do something about supply shortages and diversions of testing supplies to other states.

But for Deakin Washatko, system labs director at Aspirus Wausau Hospital, this isn't new.

"This has been a problem since the beginning of the COVID pandemic," he said.

Aspirus' labs order COVID-19 testing supplies from several different vendors on a weekly basis. But that still doesn't guarantee they get their order.

"We never know what we're going to get each week," Washatko said. "The shipments will come certain weeks and then other weeks we'll get messages that we'll receive nothing for the week."

This affects not only the lab's ability to test more subjects, but also can have an effect on public health for area residents.

"If we don't have the testing to support that, we can't identify who has COVID, and that just means more people are out there not realizing they have COVID and spreading it to others," Washatko said.

The situation is not lost on state leaders either. Gov. Tony Evers has sent letters to manufacturers used in labs across the state.

Andrea Palm, secretary-designee with the Department of Health Services, said now state leaders are calling on the federal government for help.

"We need our federal partners to help us to make sure that we have the supplies in the state of Wisconsin that we need to protect our citizens," she said.

A call that is echoed by hospitals.

"We need the federal government to continue to invest and help these different companies increase the production of these testing supplies," Washatko said.

Natalie Sopyla

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