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Fewer people getting tested for COVID-19, even when they show symptoms: Study

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Posted at 2:05 PM, Nov 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 15:05:28-05

MILWAUKEE — A new COVID-19 study is uncovering how serious Wisconsin patients are taking this pandemic.

Advocate Aurora Health teamed up with researchers across the country to discover the long-term effects of COVID-19.

Nearly 100,000 people took part in a weekly COVID-19 Citizen Science Study. 12,000 alone are patients from Aurora Health.

In the study, patients use an app to answer questions every week about the pandemic.

Advocate Aurora Health Epidemiologist Dr. Rasha Khatib said initial results from the study showed a huge lack in people getting tested, even when they have symptoms.

“That's concerning to you?” asked TMJ4 News’ Julia Fello. Dr. Rasha Khatib replied, “Yeah, and that’s one way to transmit the disease, is to not know you have it, right?”

Mike Allen signed up for this study. He is not surprised by the results. “Just from my personal experience when I talk to someone, you'll hear them cough, people will say ‘Oh it’s allergies, its nothing’ — and it’s that mindset," said Allen.

“It's very important for us at the policy level to try to understand how we can make testing more accessible and available,” said Dr. Khatib.

The study results are also available for anyone to see in real time. It is called the COVID Risk Tracker, and can be broken down by county. This includes a ‘COVID-Risky Behavior Score.’

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“It checks your health, it asks you your feelings on vaccinations, masking, distancing, what your practices are daily at work, outside of work," explained Allen.

The platform said risky behaviors by people participating in the study is up slightly in southeast Wisconsin, compared to the week before. Ozaukee County is the worst at nearly five times higher in risky behaviors than all of southeast Wisconsin. That’s followed by Rock County, which is nearly three times higher.

This is information Allen is thankful to have. "It’s very good to know what your peers and your neighbors and friends are doing, not necessarily what the people in your social group are doing," he said.

What this study may have done so far, is show how much this pandemic has affected almost every aspect of our lives.

“We have to be vigilant until we know we're well past it,” said Allen.

The study also tracks the risk of economic hardship because of the pandemic, and why some people are hesitant to get the vaccine.

If you would like to take part in the COVID-19 Citizen Science Study, click here.

You can also click here to check out the COVID-Risk Tracker.