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Milwaukee city leaders address pandemic amid testing demand, variant spread

Posted at 6:01 AM, Dec 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-28 13:48:51-05

MILWAUKEE — As the demand for tests only climbs, lines of cars at testing sites go into the streets, with people waiting hours to be seen.

According to the Milwaukee Health Department, more than 19,000 COVID-19 tests were conducted last week. The Monday before Christmas, more than 5,000 people got tested. The last time the city saw daily testing numbers that high was back in September. In Tuesday's visit, Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson, along Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson, discussed how the city is approaching the surge at Northwest Health Center. But with people excited to spend time together after last year's more socially distant Christmas, Acting Mayor Johnson doesn't want people to get too comfortable and let their guard down.

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"I know this is a very special time of the year for families across the city," said Acting Mayor Johnson at an event on Monday. "And folks want to be with their loved ones. We get that, we understand that, but just just make sure you're cognizant of what's going on out there. We're in a pandemic still, that has not subsided, hospitals are still full. And we want to make sure that this community is safe and healthy."

With that concern, local health leaders are seeing a spike in testing and they are working hard to meet the demand.

"We've got three sites we are staffing up. We are moving some people that normally do vaccinations into a testing role," said Dr. Nick Tomaro with the Milwaukee Health Department.

Dr. Tomaro says they're still able to turn around results in about 24 hours. But given the volume of testing happening, it can take longer than normal and he just asks people to be patient.

Milwaukee's free community COVID-19 testing sites are back open this week, but will close for the New Year's holiday. Click here to learn more.

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