Jeramey Jannene

COVID-19 Testing Quick and Easy At National Guard Sites

Free testing sites now offer preregistration, emailed results.

By - Aug 3rd, 2020 05:50 pm
Nasal swab COVID-19 test. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Nasal swab COVID-19 test. Photo by Alison Peterson.

For almost three months the Wisconsin National Guard, Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Milwaukee Health Department have jointly operated two COVID-19 testing sites in the city.

The free testing sites, for which no appointment is necessary, serve individuals arriving on foot, bicycle or, as is most common, automobile. Over 74,000 tests have been administered as of August 3rd.

After my wife learned a coworker with an office across the hallway from her tested positive for the virus she decided to get tested. I went along for the ride, out of an abundance of caution and a sense of journalistic curiosity.

After spending just over 20 minutes on-site waiting to get tested and less than 48 hours waiting for results, it’s hard to imagine the process could be easier.

We opted for what’s known as the “UMOS site,” located in the large parking lot in front of the non-profit social service organization at 2701 S. Chase Ave. A similar testing site operates in the parking lot across from Barack Obama School of Career and Technical Education (formerly Custer High School) at 4300 W. Fairmount Ave.

Finding the line short at approximately 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday, we drove in. What ensued was a mad dash on our smartphones to find the preregistration link that was recently released, no signage on-site for the website was found. The preregistration is not required, but it helps speed up the process (and can be found on the state’s website).

After being directed towards a specific testing line, an individual used a mobile device to scan a QR code on each of our phones.

Test subjects then drive into the multi-bay tent where a guard member verifies identities by birthdate. A guard member then provides instructions that a cotton swab will be inserted approximately one inch up the nose and swirled four times in each nostril.

Unlike reports of other tests, the Exact Sciences-test used by the state was painless and the act of swabbing can be described as “unusual,” but not “uncomfortable.”

After the swabbing, it’s all over. We were in and out in 22 minutes.

I received notice, via email, of my test results on Friday morning at 6:00 a.m., approximately 41 hours later. I tested negative, as did my wife. A follow-up call came Saturday for each of us, confirming that we had seen the email.

Both sites operate Monday-Thursday, 11:00 a.m. through 7 p.m. and from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Both are closed on Sundays.

Want to get in and out as fast as possible? Arrive on foot. Those not in cars are treated as part of a separate line.

Additional information on the testing sites, including those operated throughout the state, can be found on the DHS website.

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