Milwaukee city leaders encourage public to utilize COVID-19 testing sites, celebrate Christmas safely

NOW: Milwaukee city leaders encourage public to utilize COVID-19 testing sites, celebrate Christmas safely

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is encouraging people to use the free community COVID-19 testing sites because testing has been down recently. 

Mayor Barrett said anyone who has symptoms or was in close contact with someone who tested positive should get tested. 

The Miller Park site is the largest in the area and opened six weeks ago. Barrett said the rate of people who have tested positive is still relatively high in our area. 

When the Miller Park testing site opened, Barrett said the first week they had 16,000 people tested and then it peaked before Thanksgiving with 19,000 people getting tested. He says that number has since dropped and now he is concerned. 

“One of the major concerns that we have and one of the major concerns that I have personally is the percentage of positive tests among those who are coming to our sites indicates that COVID-19 infections remain at a high level. In other words I would feel much better with a decrease in testing if we also saw a decrease in the percentage of people testing positive," Barrett said. 

The Miller Park COVID-19 testing site is open Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It will be closed on Christmas and New Year's Day. 

Watch the full news conference with Mayor Barrett below: 

“Since Thanksgiving we have seen a pretty continuous drop in the number of people getting tested at Miller Park and that’s concerning to us,” says Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Right before Thanksgiving Miller Park was at its peak, seeing about 19,000 people. Now that number has dropped to between 10-12,000 people.

“We know there’s a lot of people with symptoms who are not getting tested and that’s what we really need to focus on,” says Dr. Ben Weston, associate professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin. “There are a few groups we want to get tested; anybody with symptoms, anybody with close contact, anybody whose referred, but that symptom group is really important.”

As vaccines continue to be delivered and administered, officials say the situation remains fluid.

“With the introduction of the vaccine we can now take what may not be the typical season of joy, but we can make it into a season of hope,” says Dr. Weston.

Officials are still asking people to take the proper precautions and avoid large gatherings.

Testing sites will be closed Christmas day and New Year’s Day.  

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