Wisconsin National Guard members Sgt. Nathaniel Nyquist, left, Sgt. John Clark and Spc. Madeline Westrick gather samples at a drive-up COVID-19 testing site near Baraboo on April 29. (Photo © Andy Manis)
Wisconsin National Guard members Sgt. Nathaniel Nyquist, left, Sgt. John Clark and Spc. Madeline Westrick gather samples at a drive-up COVID-19 testing site near Baraboo on April 29. (Photo © Andy Manis)

Free sites will be staffed by Wisconsin National Guard, located in 56 counties, seven tribal nations. 

Wisconsin is drastically expanding its free community testing sites for COVID-19 from three to 71, with a goal to test upwards of 48,000 additional people per week.

The free sites will open before the end of the month and remain operational through Dec. 10. They will be staffed by members of the Wisconsin National Guard and located in 56 counties and seven tribal nations. Each site will have between 300 to 400 tests to administer daily. The three existing sites in Dane, Milwaukee, and Winnebago counties will remain in operation.

“Testing is a critically important part of our state’s response to this pandemic, and we want to make it easier for those who need a test to get a test,” said Gov. Tony Evers in a statement Thursday. “Distance [from a testing location] is one barrier that we can do something about, and one of the ways to address this issue is to offer testing in more places.” 

To date, the National Guard has played an important role in the state’s ongoing efforts to control the coronavirus, collecting roughly 725,000 test samples since March. 

The announcement comes as Wisconsin continues to see record-setting numbers of coronavirus cases daily. On Thursday, the state Department of Health Services announced 51 coronavirus-related deaths and 4,870 new COVID-19 cases, the second-highest total of the pandemic, topped only by Tuesday’s 5,262.

Recently, public and private laboratories around the state have been processing a little over 100,000 COVID-19 tests in a seven-day period.

Julie Willems Van Dijk, DHS deputy secretary, said people who test positive must isolate in their homes for 14 days and be symptom free for three days before leaving their house. 

“Covid-19 spreads like wildfire,” said Van Dijk. “That’s why we are encouraging people to religiously follow the guidelines we are talking about.”

A list of testing sites across the state is available at https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/community-testing.htm.