Coronavirus Testing: Who, Where, How?

Coronavirus Testing: Who, Where, How?

Leah B-H

As the number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the United States increases to the most in the world, many states are offering drive-thru testing to make the testing process more effective and to keep patients inside the building virus-free.  The United States currently has almost 250,000 confirmed cases of the virus, but lack of testing suggests that the numbers may be significantly higher.  

The country has had to make severe changes to the health care system.  A Navy ship with 1,000 beds has been docked in New York City, and drive-thru testing is becoming more prominent.  Many businesses have offered their parking lots for the cause, but most are not being utilized.

Some of the hardest hit states in the country include New York, California, and Washington.  Dr. Gray, a pediatrician in Palo Alto, California, is an alumnus of Westminster. Dr. Gray feels lucky being a pediatrician at this time because kids are generally not as affected as adults.  “It seems if they get COVID-19 they have a very mild illness just like a cold, or maybe have no symptoms at all, so as a pediatrician, I am not seeing very many kids who are becoming very sick with coronavirus” she explains.  

Her practice in Palo Alto is implementing a drive-up testing program in order to keep sick patients isolated from others.  In an interview, she explains how the system works: “In our parking lot, we have parking spaces that are reserved for patients to drive up.  So what happens is the patients call ahead of time and say why they are coming, and when they show up someone does an initial triage to see why they are here. Then they get sent to a parking space where there are a doctor and nurses waiting for them, and we are wearing full protective gear, and we basically do our history and exam with the patient and the parent in the car.  They don’t have to get out of the car so we talk through the windows, and if they need medicine or testing we can do all of that right there in our parking lot.”

“It’s almost like carpool” she describes.  She says that in general more adults than kids are driving up to be tested.  Right now, her practice is testing per CDC guidelines: if the patient has had known exposure to COVID-19, if they have recently been to a high risk country, if they have recently been on a cruise, if they are in the hospital, or if they are a high risk patient.

She thinks that drive-thru testing is a good solution to keeping the virus from spreading. “The reason that we’ve moved the clinics outside is that it’s keeping the sick patients from coming into the building so that we can continue to see our healthy patients, our patients who are coming in for other problems, like a broken bone or just coming in for their check-up and their shots. Those patients know that they are coming into a clinic that’s healthy and that they aren’t going to catch coronavirus while they are there” she says.

The United States will continue its fight against COVID-19 and will continue making adjustments to find the most effective way to test people for coronavirus.