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Milwaukee man says it took four days to get negative COVID-19 test results back

Posted at 10:24 PM, Mar 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 07:18:43-04

MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee man said it took four days to find out whether or not he had the novel coronavirus. With more and more people getting sick everyday in Wisconsin, he worries how long it will take others to get results if something does not change.

“I had a cough. A cold which I didn’t take very serious for a week or so. Then, all of a sudden, I spike a fever which we determined was a 103 degrees,” said Mark Chambers.

Since he was running a high fever along with having a cough and problems breathing, his wife rushed him to the emergency room.

“They screened him for flu, chest X-ray for pneumonia and then did the swab for the COVID-19 test. And told him it would be at least two days until they got the results,” said wife Janine Chambers.

Mark and Janine Chambers walking in Milwaukee in December 2019, before Mark got sick.

“They admitted me to a hospital bed in an infection control room, and I only saw people totally garbed and masked,” said Mark Chambers.

Those two days turned into four. Mark was allowed to go home, but had to be isolated from his family. His friends and recent contacts were also told to quarantine themselves as they waited for the result. Tuesday night, Mark was told he tested negative for the coronavirus. He found out he had another respiratory virus but not COVID-19.

We asked the City of Milwaukee Health Commission Jeannette Kowalik why it took so long to get that test result back.

“Despite us being able to turn a lab sample around in 24 to 48 hours the provider still needs to contact the patient, so sometimes that is part of the delay,” said Kowalik. “Our lab is not 24/7 yet. We have increased capacity to 150 specimens a day and we have not received 150 specimens a day.”

The Milwaukee Health Department plans to eventually run 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but only when the demand increases. Part of the reason demand is low according to Kowalik, Milwaukee does not have enough tests. The city was promised more by the White House last week and they are still waiting for those supplies.

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