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Poll: Does Fairfax County Need a Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing Site?

(Updated 4:55 p.m.) Drive-thru coronavirus testing sites are starting to pop up around the U.S. to screen patients for the virus.

Fairfax County doesn’t have any plans at the moment to open a drive-through testing site, Ali Althen, a spokesperson for Fairfax County, told Tysons Reporter yesterday.

“The decision to open sites would likely be made by the medical community and not the county government,” Althen said.

Earlier this week, Arlington County and Virginia Hospital teamed up for a drive-thru testing site to cut down on the number of people trying to get tested at hospitals and doctor’s offices.

“Arlington residents, county and school system employees and Virginia Hospital Center patients, who are experiencing symptoms consistent with coronavirus and have a written order from a healthcare provider, will be eligible for testing,” ARLnow reported.

While Fairfax County hasn’t teamed up with the hospital, there is a testing site atop the parking garage outside Kaiser Permanente’s facility in Tysons, WTOP reported.

“Kaiser has set up five different sites across the region for members with a doctor’s prescription for testing,” WTOP reported. “The health maintenance organization has testing sites in Baltimore, Largo, Gaithersburg, Tysons Corner and Woodbridge.”

As of Thursday morning, the Virginia Department of Health says there are 77 presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in the commonwealth, with 14 in Fairfax County.

If the county does decide to open drive-thru sites, it would let people know “across our channels to help members of the public find and make use of those sites as necessary and appropriate,” Althen said.

On Thursday afternoon, Fairfax County released more information about testing sites:

Up until recently, COVID-19 testing was only available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state laboratories, with local health departments like ours helping to coordinate and facilitate those tests based on very specific testing criteria. Now that we have commercial laboratories testing capability, physicians have wider latitude to order testing.

Still, several challenges have limited testing for Fairfax County residents:

  1. With shortages of personal protective equipment across the nation, health care providers who lack recommended protective equipment may not test because of the risk to their health and ability to continue providing care in the community.
  2. The materials needed for specimen collection before being sent to the lab are in limited supply nationwide.

The Health Department does not evaluate patients or collect specimens for commercial testing because these functions are best performed by primary care providers, urgent care centers or Emergency Departments where a complete medical evaluation, radiology, and other types of laboratory testing are available.

Let us know what you think of the coronavirus drive-thru sites in the poll below.

Photo via CDC/Unsplash

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