After conducting several weeks of testing at its new community COVID-19 testing sites, the City of Milwaukee issued a reminder for residents to use all testing sites efficiently and appropriately.
Community testing sites offer the opportunity for residents to receive a free test without appointment even if they are asymptomatic, but there are also a large number of alternatives for testing in Milwaukee. Community health centers and a number of pharmacies are excellent options. Residents can visit milwaukee.gov/covidtesting for a map of all testing locations.
“Unfortunately, what we’re seeing is an increase in the percent of people—both at the local level and certainly at the State level—who are testing positive, which means that the incidence of the disease is greater now than it has been at any point in the last seven months; It’s very concerning,” said Mayor Tom Barrett. “We are so thankful for the National Guard’s support these past months, but now we need Congress to get us additional resources for testing and tracing because local governments cannot carry this burden. The funding is going to become an issue on December 31 if we don’t have a sign from the federal government or the state government as to how we’re going to carry this into 2021.”
The reminder comes as a result of the Miller Park community testing site continuing to exceed its designed capacity of 2,000 tests daily and the Northwest and Southside Health Centers exceeding their designed capacity of 400 tests each. A high demand for testing and the disproportionate media attention given to the sites adds to long lines at these locations.
Miller Park tested over 2,400 people before Election Day, while the Northwest and Southside Health Centers tested 900 people in total. Mondays are especially busy for the sites, as residents who may have developed symptoms or engaged in high-risk activities over the weekend tend to seek out testing in larger numbers on Mondays. The best time to get tested is 3 to 5 days after exposure.
The City of Milwaukee provides community COVID-19 testing sites as a cooperative effort with the National Guard and Milwaukee County. The transition from National Guard testing at Custer Stadium and UMOS to the current three community testing centers has led to a significant increase in capacity, but in order to resume weekend testing the City still needs time to ramp up its staffing levels.
Milwaukee’s goal has been to transition fully from National Guard testing to civilian testing by the end of November, and that time frame is when Saturday testing is expected to be available for the public as well.
“The cooperation between the Wisconsin National Guard and the Milwaukee Health Department has been very positive, and I am proud of the work everyone is doing as testing demand increases,” Acting Commissioner Marlaina Jackson said. “Now we are seeking additional cooperation from people seeking tests. Please, look at the various testing site alternatives and avoid contacts that could lead to COVID-19 exposure.”
The City also encouraged residents to avoid group activities where they think exposure to COVID-19 is possible. Changes in behavior lessen the spread of the disease, reducing the demand for testing and decreasing the testing volume at community sites.