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Expanded testing marks next step in Milwaukee County’s coronavirus response

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MILWAUKEE -- Expanded COVID-19 testing is a key part of getting Wisconsin back open, and Milwaukee County could soon be getting a big boost in that area.

Tom Barrett

The road to re-opening comes with many markers, and expanded testing for the virus is one of the biggest.

"The more we can accelerate that, the sooner we can get life back to normal," Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said.

The state currently has 36 labs performing 7,500 tests each day. There is a goal to reach 85,000 tests per week -- 12,000 per day.

In Milwaukee County, five community health centers are now working together to help increase testing locally.

"We'll be getting more information, so the health department can go out and work hard to make sure that contacts are made and we can study what might lead to surges again or other preventative measures," said Dr. Anthony Linn with Outreach Community Health Centers.

Including Outreach, those testing sites will include The Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center, Milwaukee Health Services, Progressive Community Health Centers and Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers.

"We've always been testing with Outreach. With the new test kits, we're able to test more," Constance Palmer with Outreach Community Health Centers.

Those centers will perform tests on current patients with the goal of expanding to the community. They will get help from outside if needed, too -- an effort to get more people tested so life can get closer to normal.

"The National Guard has made themselves available to help if the numbers get really high," said Dr. Linn.

The goal is to move toward testing everyone who is symptomatic. County leaders said they are quickly working toward that.

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