Three South Shore health departments are working together to offer a coronavirus testing site in one of the old Bucyrus buildings in South Milwaukee.
The health departments of Oak Creek, Cudahy and the South Milwaukee/St. Francis joint department are creating the site. Oak Creek’s common council passed a memorandum of understanding for the testing site at its Oct. 6 meeting.
The decision to proceed with the site comes as COVID-19 cases continue to surge across the state.
Oak Creek City Administrator Andrew Vickers said the partnership is much more efficient than any one community setting up a testing site alone. Federal and state funds are “streaming in” to help fund the facility, he said.
Oak Creek City Attorney Melissa Karls said South Milwaukee was chosen as the location because the old Bucyrus site will offer a drive-thru which will be especially useful with the colder months approaching.
Cudahy’s interim Health Officer Heather Puente said many of the details, such as when the facility will open, hours, and how the drive-thru element will work are still being finalized.
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Oak Creek Fire Chief Mike Kressuk said it’s his assumption, based on how other sites work, the new facility will likely start with standard swab testing but could be upgraded to other potentially faster methods later.
The memorandum of understanding said talks between the South Shore communities and the Milwaukee County Unified Emergency Operations Center determined a specimen collection and testing site was needed in the area.
According to public reports from all three local health departments, cases have been trending up over the past several days but are significantly down from a high point in July. Regardless, the state health department categorizes Milwaukee County’s risk burden as “high.” The burden is defined as the “total number of cases per 100,000 residents in the past two weeks.”
The South Milwaukee/St. Francis Health Department will be the lead fiscal agency for the testing location and will hire staff for the project, purchase and maintain supplies and services and lease the space.
Expenses for the site will be reimbursed monthly with 43% going to Oak Creek, 25% to South Milwaukee, 21% to Cudahy and 11% to St. Francis.
The MOU will remain in effect until modified or terminated by any of the partner communities.
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