RACINE — On Monday the City of Racine opened its first COVID-19 testing site allowing anyone to get tested for free without an appointment. This happened as the area continues to see some of the largest spikes in coronavirus cases in the country.
The Wisconsin National Guard is operating the site, located in the parking lot of Festival Hall. When David Smith heard there would be a COVID-19 testing site in downtown Racine he made sure to be one of the first in line when it opened.
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“I don’t have any symptoms, but I thought it was a good idea to get tested,” Smith said.
It’s something he doesn’t take lightly after he said one of his co-workers contracted the virus.
“He’s very ill,” Smith said. “I’m very worried about him.”
He and hundreds of other residents waited in their cars for hours to get tested by members of the National Guard.
Kimberly Rice didn’t have symptoms, but said the virus hits close to home.
“My brother-in-law died of the virus,” Rice said.
It was important for her to get tested.
“Just for my family and everybody, just to know that I’m okay,” Rice said.
Effie Miller also didn’t have symptoms, but has cousins who had the virus and friends who died from it. She wanted to get some peace of mind.
“I’m just taking it for precaution, just want to be safe,” Miller said.
The site opened at a time when Racine County and the city are seeing spikes in positive cases, some of the largest week-to-week increases in the country.
As of May 18, the county had 1,059 with 704 of them in the city.
Mayor Cory Mason urges everyone get swabbed, especially essential workers and those in minority communities, as the latter represents more than 80 percent of the city’s cases.
“We haven’t seen the curve flatten. We continue to see it to go up,” Mason said. “It gets us one step closer to trying to get ahead of the coronavirus so we can figure out how to safely engage as a community.”
Currently, the city is the only other municipality besides Milwaukee with a ‘Safer at Home’ order. Mason wants residents to know that getting tested doesn’t make them immune to the virus.
“We wouldn’t want people to get a negative test result and suddenly think that it’s not important for them to still wear a mask, to wash their hands, to maintain social distancing, to stay smart and to stay safe,” Mason said.
Officials at Ascension All Saints Hospital in Racine told TMJ4 News they’re seeing their highest levels of inpatient cases. They said they’re prepared to care for more people if the cases continue to rise.
The only other mass testing site in the area took place last week miles away in Burlington, but it wasn’t open to people without symptoms.
If you want to get tested at the Racine site, it’s open through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Take 11th Street to Pershing Park Drive to get there.
The National Guard is also offering limited walk-up testing.
They encourage anyone going to get tested to wear a mask.
Test results are expected to be available within 48 hours.