MILWAUKEE — Testing for COVID-19 has been on the rise for five straight weeks in Milwaukee County and is consistent with the increase in cases, local public health officials say.
"We're up to over 20,000 tests per week and certainly there is more capacity for testing," said Darren Rausch, director of the Greenfield Health Department.
Milwaukee County's positivity rate stands at nearly 11 percent, keeping the area in the high transmission category.
North Shore Pharmacy's owner, Kyle Beyer, said they have seen the rise in testing firsthand, going from 10 to 20 tests daily a few weeks ago, to 60 to 80 tests per day.
"I think a lot of it is increased [due] to travel. Folks are going to festivals that are requiring it. Folks are going to countries or other places that require proof of negative testing. But the other part is we are seeing case counts increase. So we do have people both vaccinated and unvaccinated coming in with symptoms and they're just concerned," Beyer said.
Major events like Summerfest are now requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. The average attendance for the last three Summerfests comes out to more than 772,000.
"I commend Summerfest and its leadership in this area, and its willingness to do what is in the best interest not only of its patrons but of the entire community," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
Hours have fluctuated over the past few months according to demand, but community testing sites across Milwaukee are still offering free COVID-19 testing with no appointments needed.
Most pharmacies require an appointment, and depending on which one you turn to, availability may be spotty.
"We typically have same-day appointments available, but with the increase in volume, it can be hard to get in sometimes," Beyer said.
Depending on where you go, PCR and rapid tests are available. Testing locations may offer them for nothing out of pocket, but for some, you may need to pay for a rapid test, then submit it to your insurance provider.
Some pharmacies sell at-home test kits for less than $30.
However, experts have said generally rapid tests are not as reliable.
Community testing sites may have different requirements.