COVID-19 Drive-Thru Testing – How will this Work?

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As announced on Friday, the United States is ramping-up and expanding COVID-19 testing processes to include drive-thru tests for anyone that meets the guidelines.

The new drive-thru sites will allow medical workers to safely test patients with virus symptoms who have recently traveled to high-risk areas or have been in close contact with people who tested positive.

What is the Drive-Thru Test?

Exactly as stated, the patient will get tested without leaving their car.

"So, if you can visualize this, we've laid out parking lots to check temperatures, do swabs, et cetera, without the person leaving their car." Stated Ron Wittenmyer, CEO of Dallas-based hospital chain that has launched external triage centers at all of its 65 hospitals.

Testing for the new coronavirus isn't all that different from testing for the flu. First, doctors need to collect a specimen -- a sample that will be checked for the virus.

Health experts think the coronavirus replicates in the respiratory tract, causing respiratory illness, so the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that clinicians swab your throat, going through both your mouth and your nose. People with "wet" coughs may also be asked to cough up sputum, a mixture of saliva and mucous.

What Happens Next?

Test results are then rushed to a qualified lab where technicians use a procedure called RT-PCR or reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, to look for the coronavirus. Once a sample arrives at a lab, test results can be available in as little as a few hours.

The overall time to receive your test results will depend on the distance to the lab and their processing turn-around time but should be within days at the longest. As more LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics test locations come online, this time should shorten to around 24 hours.

Editor’s Note: At the time of this article drive-thru locations for Sussex and Morris counties have not been officially published.

Jim Urquhart/Reuters

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