MILWAUKEE — As of 3 p.m. Monday, 800 people were tested for COVID-19 at two new locations in Milwaukee. It’s all a part of an effort to increase testing in Wisconsin. Now anyone can get a free test, regardless of whether they have symptoms or not.
For the past 45 days, Thomas Thompson refused to leave his Milwaukee home, outside of the occasional trip to the grocery store. However, on Monday he stepped out to get tested for COVID-19, concerned that he may be carrying the virus.
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“I’m trying to figure out is it the diabetes that’s messing with me or is it the virus,” Thompson said. “Starting to feel like headaches and body aches.”
Other local residents felt the same.
Throughout the day, cars lined the streets surrounding Midtown Center and UMOS on the south side. Many waited for several hours to get tested.
Health officials are offering both walk-up and drive-thru testing, with the majority of residents deciding to stay in their vehicles.
The Wisconsin National Guard is helping with the effort, donned in personal protective equipment. 500 tests can be conducted per day at each site, and hope to shorten the wait time.
“As a result of the demand, our teams are working hard to open additional lanes to process more people,” Captain Joe Trovato said.
Everyone had their own reason to get tested, but many felt the same as David Ugrich from Milwaukee and Veronica Moore from Wauwatosa.
“It will make me feel better that I know that I’ve done my part to keep the community safe,” Ugrich said.
“We have to protect others, that’s the important thing. We don’t want to spread in our communities,” Moore said. “Being tested from all aspects is important because we’re all in this community together.”
As for Thompson, no matter the results, he said it’s worth the trip.
“I will feel better to know yay or nay than not knowing,” Thompson said. “I hope that more people come out and take advantage of this as soon as they can.”
Health officials are encouraging anyone to get tested, whether you’re experiencing symptoms or have been near someone who has COVID-19, even if you feel well.
Mayor Tom Barrett said he hopes to open other testing sites like these if the demand continues.
Right now the two in Milwaukee are open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. They're located at 5825 W. Hope Ave., Milwaukee, WI, 53216 and 2701 S Chase Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207.