Officials encourage symptomatic patients to be tested for COVID-19 as lab capacity expands

Posted at 10:00 PM, May 06, 2020

With COVID-19 testing the key to re-opening the state of Wisconsin, health officials are urging people to get tested.

In the past it was only the sickest of patients that were eligible for a test, but now testing has ramped up across the state and many places have more tests than potential patients.

The state Department of Health Services website says Wisconsin now has the lab capacity of 14,797 tests a day at 51 labs. But the total tests reported Wednesday was just 4,194, a fraction of the capacity.

Milwaukee County Health Director Dr. Ben Weston says he doesn't believe there is a lack of patients out there, but that messaging needs to change.

“The messaging that’s been hammered into people for weeks and weeks, to stay home, drink soup, hydrate you’ll be fine has changed. That’s because nationally there has been an increase in testing capacity” said Weston.

At the Sixteenth Street Clinic, one of Milwaukee County’s 5 community testing facilities, the same is true. Dr. Jorge Ramallo says they have the capacity to test more people than who’s coming through the door. He urges anyone with symptoms to get themselves tested.

“Not only to get a diagnosis for themselves, but also… to help them prevent the spread of the infection if they truly are positive” says Ramallo.

The city, county and clinics are all busy working on getting the word out about the facilities and testing available. This comes as the state says additional testing sites will be coming in the days to come. Milwaukee County says its working on a website to direct residents to places where they can get a test.

Nearly 100,000 people have been tested in Wisconsin.

Report a typo or error // Submit a news tip

Coronavirus in Wisconsin

More data on Wisconsin's vaccination progress here.

Find a vaccination site here.

Check out county-by-county coronavirus case numbers here.

More information: COVID-19 on the Wisconsin DHS website

Latest news and headlines here.