‘It’s a great service’: Community COVID-19 testing site opens at Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville

JANESVILLE, Wis. – The Wisconsin National Guard is now testing patients for COVID-19 outside of Blackhawk Technical College in Janesville.

The community testing site will operate on Wednesdays and Thursdays until Dec. 10. The site will open at 11 A.M. each day, and will stay open until the National Guard administers 300 tests for the day.

“This is providing a great service to everyone in the Rock County community,” said Rob Balsamo, who coordinates BTC’s Fire and EMS programs.

Balsamo says the program began when Blackhawk Tech’s President asked to find a way to safely test students and staff. From there, it pivoted into an idea to help the community.

“These testing sites really open up the accessibility for our county,” said Falicia Martinez, a Public Health Nurse with the Rock County Public Health Department. “The more people that get tested, the faster we can get those results. The faster we can get the results, the faster we can get them under control.”

On Wednesday, Rock County had more than 1,360 active cases of COVID-19, close to 400 more than the same time a week prior. In addition, the county has seen nine additional hospitalizations in the past two days, putting the number of patients getting care at 29 – just one fewer than the high point set on Oct. 12.

“We’re actively looking at the hospitalization rates, we’re obviously concerned with the amount of cases that are coming in,” Martinez said. “People are still continuing to go to bars. People are continuing to go to parties and get together with others, which is an issue.”

Martinez said Janesville’s testing site will help to take pressure off other testing sites throughout the state. Balsamo says he’s already inquiring about increasing the amount of available tests each day.

“I’m hopeful that people in our county will see what’s happening and will follow the guidance,” Martinez said.