More than 6,500 COVID-19 tests were administered to Wisconsin and Minnesota residents at the rapid-result testing site on the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus before it closed Jan. 22.
The site, which opened in early November, was one of 22 testing sites in the UW System around the state offering free testing to the community. In mid-December, UW System President Tommy Thompson announced they would stay open through mid-January, contrary to the original plan to run the sites for only six weeks.
Ten of the 22 sites closed Jan. 22 as planned. The other 12 will reopen soon or have already.
A few factors contributed to the decision to remain with the Jan. 22 close date, including a decrease in demand for the tests.
The site's traffic peaked at the end of November with an average of 220 people a day, said Jordan Milan, director of strategic communications and special assistant to the chancellor. That number steadily declined since then before dropping off at the beginning of January. Last week, the site averaged 116 people a day.
Additionally, the site was located in the Mertz Mortorelli Gymnasium, which is a high-demand space for both athletics and academics.
"We are also aware that there are still other test sites in our area that are continuing to serve our community," Milan said in an emailed response to the News Tribune. "We are proud to have served our region with this important service."
The site was open for 47 days. The UW System received a loan from the federal government to offer testing.
While community members will no longer be able to receive testing on the UW-Superior campus, campus community members will receive more of it in Yellowjacket Union. In December, the UW System announced a plan for expanded testing. Students who live on campus will be tested once a week this spring semester while non-residential students and all staff will be tested at least once every two weeks.
Asked if UW-Superior knows if it will serve as a vaccination site, Milan said that has not yet been determined. In December, UW System Board of Regents President Andrew Petersen told the Superior Telegram the system was in talks with the federal government about becoming a vaccination hub for the state, similar to how it served as a testing hub.
"We are in regular communication with Douglas County Public Health and our local health care systems, and are ready to serve the community in this capacity if needed," Milan said.