MILWAUKEE-- Monday will kick off the second week of free COVID-19 testing in Milwaukee, allowing anyone to get tested without an appointment. It’s a part of Wisconsin’s effort to increase testing, which health officials say is the key to reopening the economy.
Testing was unavailable Sunday at the sites located at 5825 W. Hope Ave. in the Midtown Center parking lot, with another located at 2701 S. Chase Avenue outside of UMOS in Walker's Point. Last week, hundreds of local residents were seen looking to be tested for COVID-19.
Over six days, National Guard members conducted more than 11,000 tests at the site on the north side and outside UMOS on the south side.
- Coronavirus in Wisconsin: Live Updates From Across the State
- The Rebound Milwaukee: Resources For Getting Back To Normal
- We're Open: These Restaurants Are Still Offering Carryout And Delivery
Captain Joe Trovato with the Wisconsin National Guard said he was surprised by the crowds.
“Turnout, especially in the first couple of days was absolutely incredible. It definitely exceeded the expectations,” Trovato said.
Hundreds of cars lined up before the sites opened Monday, many waiting hours to get through. Trovato said right away they took steps to improve efficiency.
“They added in some additional lanes, had additional teams,” Trovato said.
He said the demand stayed strong as the days went on, but testing numbers did come down a little bit on Saturday.
Could the lifting of ‘Safer at Home’ restrictions have any impact? Nick Tomaro of the Milwaukee Health Department said it’s unclear.
“We don’t honestly know how to predict with the community opening up further and some communities around the Milwaukee area having those restrictions lifted how that will affect you know people coming to these testing sites,” Tomaro said.
As the state starts to reopen, health officials say it’s that much more important to get tested, especially if you have symptoms or have been in contact with someone who has the virus.
“These are the steps we all have to take to kind of prevent the spread throughout the community,” Tomaro said.
If you want to get tested, know that the hours have changed. The testing sites will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mon. through Sat.