By SCOTT BAUER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Free testing sites for the coronavirus opened in Milwaukee and Madison on Monday, adding to the number of locations where people can show up without an appointment to get screened for the highly contagious virus without having to leave their vehicles.
The testing sites are part of the state’s ongoing efforts to offer testing in places with a known lack of access to COVID-19 testing or with community spread, a term used for situations in which health officials can’t trace how a person contracted the disease. The sites, which also conduct walk-up testing, are open to all residents, including those working jobs deemed to be essential.
“I urge anyone who needs a test to go get tested at one of these sites and help protect your community and family from this virus,” Gov. Tony Evers said in a statement.
Health officials urge anyone experiencing COVID-19 symptoms or who has been in close contact with someone who has the virus to get tested. National Guard troops are helping process people at the sites. In Milwaukee, as many as 500 people a day were expected to come through.
“The whole goal here is the more we can ramp up the testing, the more we believe we can quickly get our life back to normal,” Mayor Tom Barrett said in an online news conference Sunday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
By Sunday, more than 10,000 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in Wisconsin, which had a death toll of 400 deaths and 1,820 people hospitalized with the disease.
Evers’ three-phase plan for easing his “safer at home” order would take effect only after the state meets six criteria, including fewer new diagnoses of coronavirus, fewer new reports of flu-like symptoms, and a lower percentage of positive coronavirus tests for 14 days. By Monday, only two of six criteria for entering the first reopening phase had been met.
Establishing the testing sites is part of the Evers administration plan to increase testing to get a better handle on where the virus is and to limit its spread.