MILWAUKEE (SPECTRUM NEWS) -- New community testing sites in Milwaukee and Madison offer free COVID-19 screenings without an appointment.

Previously, only patients exhibiting symptoms of the virus could be tested with a doctor’s recommendation. The Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin National Guard are staffing testing sites at Midtown Center on Milwaukee’s north side, at United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS) on the south side and at Alliant Energy Center in Madison.

The first day of appointment-free testing brought a huge crowd to the north side location on West Capitol Drive in Milwaukee. People who walked up told Spectrum News 1 they waited about two and a half hours for their screening, while drivers waited up to five hours.

“I figured there would be lines. I didn’t think they’d be this long, though,” said Ken Miller of Milwaukee. “I’m sure there’s a lot of people that want to get tested and make sure they’re okay, and I can understand that.”

The two Milwaukee appointment-free testing sites are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. seven days a week. The Madison location is open Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm said Monday the state will continue to increase its testing capacity. She said DHS is looking at Racine as a possible location to expand appointment-free testing.