COVID tests are readily available, but require a few more steps than before to procure


MADISON, Wis. — More than 4,000 people per day are getting a COVID test in Dane County. But without a community testing site, it’s taking some effort.

Public Health Madison and Dane County discontinued their use of the Alliant Energy Center as a testing and vaccine site in June, people have had to look elsewhere for tests. UW Health’s Chief Quality Officer Dr. Jeff Pothof says the current appointment-based nature of testing could be behind the logistical issues.

“Tests are readily available but I think what’s different is they’re not as easy to get as they were during the middle of the pandemic,” said Pothof. “I think it just takes a little more planning and coordination to get it done.”

PHMDC data shows that test numbers are up from last week, with the average per day going from  3,170 to 4,220, and while supply seems to be keeping up with demand, Public Health still saw 23% of their testing appointments go unfilled this week.

“The bottom line is there are more testing options in Dane County than ever before,” said Director Janel Heinrich.

Testing Director Ken Van Horn echoed Heinrich’s sentiments, saying that he prefers the appointment-based model we’re working with now to the previous Alliant Energy Center setup.

“We really like this appointment-based model,” said Van Horn. “It allows us to plan our staff time efficiency, and it allows the people being tested to plan their own time efficiently.”

While PHMDC lists testing locations on its website, at-home antigen tests are also widely available through a state-run program. Pothof recommends stocking up on those, but he warns that they could produce false negatives.

“It could very well tell you you don’t have the disease when you do,” said Pothof.

While wait times for PCR tests typically range between 24-72 hours, Pothof says it all depends on your proximity to a test processing facility.

“We just have to try to make it as easy as possible,” said Pothof.