Wisconsin National Guard opens drive-thru coronavirus testing at Waukesha County Expo Center

WAUKESHA -- Nearly 300 people were tested for COVID-19 in Waukesha County on Saturday, May 9 -- the first of three days in a surge testing operation.

As health officials continue to stress the importance of increased testing to get back to normal, the Wisconsin National Guard opening the site as part of a three-day plan in Waukesha County.

Elizabeth Laatsch

"It gives public health the opportunity to get a good understanding of what the disease prevalence is in the community," Elizabeth Laatsch, Waukesha County public health coordinator, said.

Donning Tyvek suits and military-grade gas masks, troops look to swab around 900 people showing symptoms of the coronavirus at a drive-thru test site set up at the Waukesha County Expo Center.

Joe Trovato

"We have a lot of room to operate. We have a lot of ability to put in multiple drive-thru lanes and cycle people through in a really efficient manner," said Capt. Joe Trovato with the Wisconsin National Guard.

It takes just minutes to fill out the paperwork with a prior appointment, then just seconds to for the test.

Paul Farrow

Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow said his team is more focused on the data and work that comes next to get a better understanding of possible exposure in the county.

"I think the bigger key to this is going to be the contact tracing and tracking, so that we can really have an understanding if someone's sick," said Farrow. "Who have they been in contact with, and how can we keep that bubble as small as possible?"

Farrow says the county has done a good job of contact tracing within short periods of time, minimizing the number of people who could have been exposed.

Wisconsin National Guard drive-thru coronavirus testing site at the Waukesha County Expo Center

"It keeps the sick people out of the community and allows the healthy people to be back in the community, going to work and help opening up our economy," Laatsch said.

So far, Laatsch says, tracing investigations show limited group exposure and that she is unaware of any cases tied to the recent "Safer at Home" protests in Brookfield.

There are still slots open for people with symptoms to get tested on Monday or Tuesday.

Call 262-548-7626 to set up an appointment.