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Covid-19 test clinics slammed with massive demand ahead of holidays

Posted at 5:36 PM, Dec 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-23 18:36:04-05

MILWAUKEE — As the Omicron variant spreads, there have been long lines for Covid-19 testing across Milwaukee ahead of the holidays.

"It's long. I wanted to be here early, but my daughter said only old people come early," said Carol Petcoff from the middle seat of a minivan.

By the time Petcoff arrived at Milwaukee Public Health's Menomonee Valley testing site, she'd already been in line for an hour and 15 minutes.

But, they stuck it out for peace of mind.

"My daughter tested positive and my husband had it. They say you're supposed to test when you're in close quarantine with people," said Petcoff.

The long wait times are due, in part, to rising citywide testing numbers.

At 5,485 tests, Monday marked the highest single day for testing in the city since Dec. 21st last year, according to Milwaukee Public Health data.

Mid-December recorded nearly 23,000 tests in a week, up 25 percent from November's biggest week.

"I'm not surprised," said Angie Lucas Foley, who tested before a trip to Ohio this weekend. "In a way, it's good people are trying to be careful and look out for their family members and people they care about."

The rush to test was also obvious outside the Southside Health Center.

Rudy Martinez sat in a large green van idling near the front of the line. He said he'd been there for two hours.

"I'm afraid to get the Covid, so I came over here. I brought my grand-kids to get tested as well," said Martinez, who was frustrated it took so long.

Others in the queue said they're been there for an hour or so.

Local school principal, David D'Antonio, said he's off work and came prepared with a podcast in his car in case of a wait.

"We have the holidays this weekend. Even though I'm vaccinated and boosted i just want to double check and make sure I am indeed safe for my family," said D'Antonio.

Though, he may not have that negative result he's seeking come Christmas dinnertime on Saturday.

Milwaukee public health officials say while they usually return results in around 48 hours (and sometimes sooner), high demand means those testing Thursday may not have an answer by Christmas.

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