Medical professionals in western Iowa’s largest county started testing people for COVID-19 in their cars Friday. Health officials estimate the drive-thru site can test around 60 people per day, five days a week once it’s fully operational.
People who have gone through their doctor to get an appointment at the drive-thru testing site in Woodbury County will report to a checkpoint. Once they’re checked in, they’ll wait in a line. When it’s their turn to be tested, a health professional will tell them where to go. They’ll be given a card that shows they’ve been approved to be tested, and can head to the site. They will not leave their vehicle during the process.
“Anyone who does not have the appointment and is not on the list will be turned away,” said Kevin Grieme, the health director for Siouxland District Health Department, speaking with reporters at the checkpoint area.
Each appointment will take about 15 minutes, but Grieme said it could take at least four business days to get results.
“So there is a delay in that,” Grieme said. “And in all reality, one of the things we recognize is depending on the condition of the patient, many of them will get well, potentially before the results come in.”
Siouxland District Health is not saying where the actual testing site is because they don't want people "bogging down" the clinic, Grieme said Thursday.
Individual clinics in Woodbury County will continue to test for the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The drive-thru clinic came about from six local medical providers to make testing more available and reduce the risk of exposure to illness in a waiting room.
Medical professionals from Siouxland Community Health Center are doing the testing in full personal protective equipment. Grieme said the drive-thru testing will decrease the use of PPE. Staff will be wearing gowns, gloves, masks and face shields, but they won’t need to fully change out of their protective gear after each appointment, Grieme said.
“They’ll switch out gloves and the necessary equipment that they need to, but it doesn’t need a full changeover,” Grieme said.
Medical professionals tested people at the drive-thru clinic from noon to 2 p.m. on Friday. Grieme said the amount of hours it’s open per day will depend on the demand and availability
Once the site is fully operational, if they are able to do 60 tests a day as health officials are estimating, they’ll be able to test 300 people per week, Grieme said, but that will depend on “a lot of factors”, including the amount of supplies available for testing.