In South Korea, health officials have been testing hundreds of people for the novel coronavirus every day at fast-food-style drive-thrus. Now, that method is coming to the US, with clinics in Colorado, Connecticut, and Washington state setting up similar testing outposts.
The University of Washington Medical Center in North Seattle can currently test 40 to 50 people per day using the method, CBS affiliate KIRO reports. The testing site is only available to employees and students, but UW Medical plans to expand the program to first responders, employees at long-term care facilities, and UW patients showing symptoms later this week. Washington currently has the second-highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment opened a drive-thru testing site in Denver on Wednesday. There are a number of requirements residents need to meet before driving up, such as a doctor’s note and a photo ID. Testing is free and proof of insurance is not required, though people are being advised to expect long wait times, according to ABC 9 news. Colorado reported 17 cases of COVID-19 as of March 10th.
In Connecticut, where only four people have tested positive for COVID-19, hospitals are experimenting with drive-thru testing. Officials are recommending people call their primary care physician first before visiting a drive-thru facility. They see it as a way to limit overcrowding at hospitals and to limit health workers’ exposure to the virus, according to the Hartford Courant.
Most novel coronavirus patients are being advised to manage their illness at home so that limited hospital resources can be reserved for those most at-risk, including the elderly and people with weakened immune systems.
In addition to the US and South Korea, Germany is also experimenting with drive-thru testing techniques. Doctors at the local hospital in the small town of Gross-Gerau launched one such facility last week. “Extraordinary times call for extraordinary solutions,” Roxana Sauer, who works at the Gross-Gerau District Hospital, told Agence France-Presse.