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Alliant Energy Center sees record testing numbers as COVID-19 case count rises

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MADISON (WKOW) -- As coronavirus case counts climb in Madison and Dane County, public health is reporting record numbers coming in for testing.

The Alliant Energy Center has been open for free testing since mid-May. During its first several weeks of operation, the center and National Guard workers conducted a few hundred tests a day.

Now Katarina Grande with Public Health Madison and Dane County said the demand is rapidly rising, doubling in the past week.

"The last few days have seen record numbers of positive tests as well as a record number of tests overall," she said.

Thursday alone saw 2200 people come in for tests, a new record for the county.

Numbers aren't in from Friday, but 45 minutes before closing, the National Guard had to prevent more cars from coming in to ensure they could take care of the line they already had in a reasonable time frame.

"There definitely is an increase of testing specifically within the younger age group and that's where we're seeing increases in cases as well," Grande said.

Grande said those young people, aged 20-29, are also seeing their percent of positive testing rising rapidly in their age group.

"The trend that we're seeing with the spike in cases. that sharp upward increase can not solely be explained by an increase in testing," she said.

Grande said many of those cases are linked to gatherings like parties or outings.

"One pattern that's becoming pretty clear is also attendance at bar establishments," she said.

That's why Public Health recently added additional restrictions to its phase 2 plan, limiting gatherings and standing service at bars and restaurants.

As for those who have been exposed, Grande said they've been coming in voluntarily to get tested in droves.

"That's been such a critical element of this epidemic response is having high levels of testing so we can truly know what's going on with transmission," she said.

At peak hours the Alliant Energy Center is seeing wait times for testing of about 90 minutes. The Center, National Guard and Public Health are working together to develop a way people can digitally check-in and take care of paperwork so the line can move much more quickly.

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Michelle Alfini

Reporter, WKOW

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