Milwaukee in need of more coronavirus testing materials

NOW: Milwaukee in need of more coronavirus testing materials

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Milwaukee health officials hope to receive additional testing supplies for coronavirus from the federal government by next week. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data show 11,079 coronavirus tests have been completed across the country as of Tuesday, but South Korea tests 12,000 people per day. People who want to get tested will need a doctor's permission to do so.

Town of Concord resident Gwen Stefanksi was stunned when he went to his hospital in Oconomowoc Wednesday, trying to get tested for the coronavirus and couldn't.

“Because you didn’t have a fever when you came in, it wasn’t part of our criteria,” said Stefanski.

He’s worried because he’s 72. He said he has a cough, shortness of breath, and was sweating profusely the night before he went to the hospital. He said he hasn’t traveled recently, but he picked up his wife from the airport two weeks ago. He just wants assurances he’s OK.

“All the stuff I’ve seen on TV, and I have a lot of lung issues,” said Stefanski.

The Milwaukee Health Department lab can test 30 samples per day. Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik said the city hopes to receive more testing supplies from the federal government soon.

“Within the next week or so, there will be additional materials sent to all the labs that are approved to do testing,” said Kowalik.

The CDC loosened testing guidelines, but people will still need to get a doctor's approval to get tested for the virus.

“We’re trying to make sure we’re getting enough tests to get the people that are at risk,” said Kowalik.

The city said Thursday three more labs are expected to start testing for the virus in the next few weeks. But that news is little comfort to Stefanski.

“This is terrible what’s going on in this country, that people are having a hard time going to get these tests,” said Stefanski.

The city said the tests are getting more efficient, but stressed keeping people from getting infected in the first place is the best defense against the virus.

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