The Milwaukee Health Department is cutting back on COVID-19 testing at its main public site, American Family Field, due to declining demand and a planned shifting of personnel to support the city’s vaccination efforts.
The largest testing operation in the region will be open just three days per week starting this week. The drive-through and walk-up testing facility at American Family Field, formerly Miller Park, will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.
The site had been open six days per week for testing but has seen a substantial decline in the number of people seeking tests for COVID-19 despite a strong reminder by public officials about the ongoing importance of testing even as COVID-19 vaccines are being rolled out.
“As the number of COVID-19 infections has declined in recent weeks, the demand for testing has gone down,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.
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As its testing efforts are cut back at America Family Field, the Milwaukee Health Department will continue to conduct testing at the Northwest Health Center (7630 W. Mill Road) and the Southside Health Center (1639 S. 23rd St.) Mondays through Saturdays from 9:00 am until 2:00 pm.
Testing remains a vital tool in containing the spread of COVID-19, local health officials emphasized.
As infections are identified, appropriate contact tracing and quarantining can take place. The Milwaukee Health Department strongly encourages testing for anyone with COVID-19 symptoms and anyone who has been in contact with someone diagnosed with the coronavirus.
The Health Department is redeploying some staff previously assigned to the American Family Field testing site to the city’s ongoing vaccination efforts but will have the flexibility to expand testing at the ballpark site if demand warrants it, Barrett said.
“If things start going in the wrong direction, we can change that very quickly,” he said. “We want to make sure we are putting our resources where they are most needed.”
Some workers that had been assigned to American Family Field will be shifted to the city’s new mobile vaccination sites, the first of which will begin operating later this week,” Interim Health Commissioner Marlaina Jackson said. On Thursday, a mobile site will be set up at All Saints Catholic Church, 4052 N. 2th St. Another will operate at St. Benedict the Moor Parish, 930 W. State St.
The goal is to initially distribute 500 vaccines between the two sites, which won’t be open to the public. The city plans to open additional sites in the coming weeks with a target of vaccinating 1,000 to 2,000 people at all the mobile sites combined.
‘We are particularly interested in deploying mobile sites to address the glaring racial inequities that we continue to see in vaccination,” Barrett said. “A very important part of our expanded efforts is the availability of vaccine.”
Although the rate of new COVID-19 infections has trended down, public health officials continue to keep a close watch for any reversals. Particular attention is being focused on the emergence of COVID-19 variants that may be spread more easily.
For people seeking COVID-19 testing who do not have their own transportation, the Lamers bus that runs along the Milwaukee County Transit System’s Brewers route will continue to operate aduring times when the American Family Field testing site is open.