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Health officials concerned after testing numbers for COVID-19 drops significantly

Posted at 5:35 PM, Dec 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-28 06:25:20-05

MILWAUKEE — COVID-19 testing resumed in Milwaukee Saturday following the recent holiday, but now health officials are pleading for more people to get tested after numbers have dropped significantly.

"Since kind of the peak of testing, we have dropped off a fair amount," said Dr. Nick Tomaro, preparedness coordinator for the Milwaukee Health Department.

Cars lined up one right after the other outside Miller Park on Saturday with people waiting to get tested for the coronavirus.

"I’m heading back to Madison but I just kind of wanted to make sure that, given the travel, that we were doing it safely. I don’t have any symptoms myself, but you can never be too safe," said one woman getting tested, Erin Billstrom.

While it was a sight many health care officials were happy to see, there’s still a big concern that not enough people are getting tested for the virus.

"Our testing numbers are also low, so we are catching fewer of those infections," said Samroz Jakvani, an epidemiologist with the Jefferson County Health Department.

And experts say, the fewer people who get tested, the less likely health officials are able to accurately tell how many people contracted the virus.

"There’s been a pretty significant reduction in the overall numbers of cases that we are confirming each day. We were once confirming about 100 cases a day. We are now confirming closer to 30," said Jakvani.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, it had been reported that zero patients were being cared for inside the Alternate Care Facility. Which to some health officials was actually a good thing.

"When you look at the alternate care facility not having any patients it means at hospital capacity has improved," said Dr. Tomaro.

But there’s still more work to be done.

"The number of people hospitalized for COVID-19 is down, but it still remains at a level that we’d like to see it much lower," said Dr. Tomaro.

If you just spent the holiday with your family or loved one and haven’t had any symptoms, but are thinking about getting tested, health officials recommend that you wait at least three to five days before getting that test to get the most accurate results.

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