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Area coronavirus testing sites see decrease in people getting tested, leaving doctors concerned

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MILWAUKEE COUNTY (CBS 58) - Coronavirus testing sites are seeing less people coming in, and it’s got county health leaders concerned.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says two days this week they’ve received fewer than 10,000 test results, but labs are capable of processing more than 16,000 test results in one day. Area doctors say the substantial drop-off is concerning.

“It is concerning, I think there are people out there with symptoms who are not getting tested,” said Dr. Ben Weston, Director of Medical Services for Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

Dr. Weston says he’s seen a big decline in tests taken within the last two weeks. In Milwaukee County, less than 7,000 tests were taken from June 3 through June 9, but a few weeks before then, that number was at more than 14,000.

He believes the number one reason people are not getting tested is a sense people have that COVID-19 is behind us.

“We saw stay at home orders in some cases go away, we saw businesses open back up, we see weather changing around us, but the virus doesn’t care about any of that, it is still here,” adds Dr. Weston.

Area health experts say a 14-day trend shows a continued downward slope in positive cases in Milwaukee County. The data is enough for suburban areas to safely move forward with the next phase of the reopening plan by Friday, but people shouldn’t get too excited.

“The message continues to be there is disease in our community, and until those case counts are at zero, we still need to take the precautions that we’ve talked about,” said Darren Rausch, Health Officer and Director for the Greenfield Health Department.

“We’re not staying at home anymore and I think at some point it’s going to catch up with us,” says Dr. Weston.

With George Floyd protests happening in the area, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett asks people go get tested. Still, doctors say it will be hard to track the effects protests will have on the county’s positive COVID-19 cases.

“Many of them were well within 6 feet of each other and sometimes for hours on end, so it’s very important that you get tested,” said Mayor Barrett.

“We may say we find a number of people who were at the protests who got sick—does that mean they got sick at the protest? Did they get sick at the grocery store? Where did they get sick? It’s hard to tell,” adds Dr. Weston.

Dr. Weston says even with recent events it important to keep testing and the pandemic in the forefront because historically, similar pandemics show the worst is yet to come.

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