Mari Freiberg, MPH; Mary F. Henningfield, PhD; Paul H. Hunter, MD; Elizabeth Bade, MD
Introduction: Testing and mitigation strategies for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection often focus on high-prevalence, urban communities, leaving low-prevalence rural areas without specific strategies to maintain the health and safety of their populations. We evaluated a cost-effective strategy for SARS-CoV-2 testing to determine point prevalence in a rural community with a generally low prevalence of infection.
Methods: We voluntarily tested asymptomatic clinic employees and conducted 2 community SARS-CoV-2 testing events in Cashton, Wisconsin, that included testing for asymptomatic persons. We also partnered with local clinics and public health departments to conduct weekly drive-up clinics for asymptomatic, high-risk persons identified through enhanced contact tracing. This was possible as testing capacity in Wisconsin never reached its maximum, and we continued symptomatic testing through our clinic.
Results: We tested 61 employees, 268 individuals at 2 community events, 36 high-risk asymptomatic people at drive-up clinic events, and 128 symptomatic people within our clinic. We observed 1 positive result in asymptomatic people and 5 positive results in symptomatic patients, confirming the low prevalence in our area.
Conclusions: Our testing events confirmed a low prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infection, providing prevalence information to local businesses and schools. We reinforced our partnership with local public health departments to facilitate enhanced contact tracing and test asymptomatic persons, and we provided a service to asymptomatic persons requiring testing for travel, school, or work. Local businesses and community members appreciated the services and expressed relief for point-in-time testing results during a period of stress and uncertainty.