Free COVID-19 Testing Sites Open Monday Morning
Individuals do not need to exhibit symptoms or make an appointment.
Two free COVID-19 testing sites, open to anyone, will open in Milwaukee on Monday morning.
“We want people to come if they want to be tested, it is free, you can drive up, you can walk up, and it’s not going to cost you anything if you want to be tested,” said Mayor Tom Barrett during a Sunday afternoon press conference. “The more we can ramp up the testing, the more we believe we can quickly get our life back to normal.”
The sites will be open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and staffed by plainclothes members of the Wisconsin National Guard. Each site has the capacity to collect 500 samples per day.
“For the whole testing process, once they get into the site, the whole process should take only a few minutes,” said Captain Joe Trovato. Samples will be collected using a non-invasive nasal swab. The tests being used are from Madison-based Exact Sciences and will be processed offsite.
A southside site will be operated at the United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS) headquarters at 2701 S. Chase Ave. A northside site will be operated in the Midtown Center shopping complex at 5760 W. Capitol Dr.
Individuals do not need to symptomatic for COVID-19 to be tested, but officials are hoping anyone with symptoms comes to get tested. Symptoms may include fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, sore throat, headache, chills, muscle aches, loss of taste or smell.
“We want those individuals who have that cough, that fever, that shortness of breath, please come get tested, you are our highest priority,” said Barrett.
“Don’t expect to see military garb, expect to see more space-type garb,” said the Mayor. Trovato said using the suits, which the guard already owns and trains in, will avoid depleting personal protective equipment (PPE) that is already in short supply.
“We are looking at approximately 120 troops total between the two sites,” said Trovato. Three shifts will work at each site.
Results will not be available immediately. “The goal is to have the results within three days,” said the Mayor. The Milwaukee Health Department will follow up with individuals and contact tracers will follow up with those that test positive.
There is no planned end date currently.
“We will have a sense of how long it will last by how many people come,” said Barrett. “Our goal is to have thousands of people.”
Unlike other testing sites, including those operated by community health centers, individuals will not need to make an appointment. The centers currently operate 17 sites that provide free testing. Healthcare providers, including Ascension and Advocate Aurora, also provide testing to patients with a referral from a physician.
Individuals needing transportation should call 211 to be connected to a community health center that can provide transportation. Those with symptoms should not take public transportation to the testing sites.
The state Department of Health Services reported a daily testing capacity of 13,797 on Saturday, but the state has never recorded over 5,600 tests processed in a single day. The Milwaukee County peak was 828 on April 28th and has trended downward since. The county has a goal of performing over 2,000 residents per day being tested.
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