WISCONSIN— By now, many people know where to get tested for COVID-19, but some testing sites are being overwhelmed.
One family physician with Ascension Wisconsin says if you need to get tested, it’s best to start with who you know.
“Whether that's a pediatrician or a family medicine doctor, the reason for that is because over the last six months or so testing has really evolved and the availability of testing has changed from the beginning of the pandemic to being very limited to becoming a little more available," Dr. Erin O'Tool says.
Experts say the majority of initial testing is still the PCR test nasal swab, and while it can take up to 72 hours to get a result, they are easier to find than a rapid test.
The rapid tests are mostly reserved for emergency room use, for people who have to be hospitalized or need emergency surgery. UW campuses across the state recently opened free rapid COVID-19 testing sites to the general public.
Doctors say the type of test administered doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with symptoms, rather than the circumstances of each patient.
“If you’re at home and you develop symptoms, whether that's coughing, fever, or chest heaviness, or some other symptom. If the pain or discomfort is high enough that you need an answer quickly then the emergency room is still the most appropriate place to get that information. If you do have some of the symptoms we’re talking about but it's not severe then the best place is to call you primary care office and they can help triage those questions for you and make a decision to maybe be seen in person, virtual or if you should be sent to the emergency room based on your symptoms.”
Check your local pharmacies for testing availability.
In Milwaukee County, the region’s busiest testing location at Miller Park recently expanded their hours to be open for drive-through and walk-up testing on Saturdays between the hours of 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. The new hours are in addition to the established schedule of testing from Monday through Friday from 11:00 am until 6:00 pm. The extended hours will be staffed by workers from the Milwaukee Health Department, Milwaukee County, and temporary employees.
Rapid testing, also known as BinaxNOW tests, are available at some health care systems and at UW locations, you can find the nearest one here.