Public Health Madison & Dane County will close its community COVID-19 testing clinic at 2230 S. Park St. after three years, starting April 14.
With state and federal funding support expiring in the spring, the closure marks a turning point in the pandemic. The federal coronavirus public health emergency declaration expires on May 11, bringing about changes in the cost of COVID tests and treatments that have been available for free depending on the state. The expiration coincides with the end of the Wisconsin health department's Community Testing Support Program, which reimbursed local test sites $30 per antigen swab and $20 per swab for PCR testing.
“Since May 11, 2020, we have provided more than half a million COVID tests at no cost to our community,” Public Health Madison & Dane County Director Janel Heinrich said in a prepared statement. “This tremendous effort was made possible thanks to the unwavering dedication of our staff and partners including Dane County Human Services, Wisconsin National Guard, Alliant Energy Center, Dane County and Madison Public Libraries, and many more.”
Wisconsin residents can still get 10 free at-home rapid test kits from the state Department of Health Services every month through May through the Say Yes COVID Tests program. Tests can also be purchased in stores, pharmacies and online, and insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare are required to reimburse up to eight tests per month, per member.
“We understand that testing is still vital for monitoring COVID and protecting public health,” said Colton Ritchie, COVID testing supervisor for the Madison and Dane County health department. “Tests will continue to be available through the mail as well as through community testing partners and through healthcare providers. The best way place to find the latest options is on our website.”
Additionally, many testing clinics remain in Dane County for the time being, although costs can occur when using private companies. The city-county health department has a list of all the sites in Madison, outside of the city in Dane County and options in surrounding counties.
The end of the federal emergency declaration will also lead to changes to COVID vaccination and contact tracing efforts at Public Health. The department said it will release more information on those changes in the coming weeks.