Pop-up COVID-19 testing pops up in Central Virginia: How you can get tested

Posted at 4:29 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-18 17:50:38-04

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- More than 100 people took part in community pop-up testing site for COVID-19 was established Wednesday in Central Virginia.

The testing was only available to patients who registered by calling 804-205-3501 and met certain pre-screening requirements.

"We've got four tents out there. It's a drive thru testing situation. All of our staff are gloved and gowned and wearing personal protective equipment," Dr. Danny Avula, director of the Richmond and Henrico Health Departments, said. "The law enforcement has been amazing in terms of managing traffic control, making sure that folks who have appropriately been registered come with ID. And so it's been a really smooth operation, which is good news for us. Because what it means is that as we have more and more test kits come in and be made available to us, we'll be able to replicate this at different places around the region."

Patients who called 804-205-3501 and meet the pre-screening requirements, were given a registration via phone or email.

"You bring that registration here to the checkpoint with law enforcement, they pass you through. Everybody at each point is wearing personal protective equipment because all of the people who are coming here today have symptoms, and so we want to make sure that the staff is protected against any kind of exposure," Dr. Avula said. "They come through, they drive through the drive into one of those in front of one of those four tents. Our nursing staff go in and they either do an oral swab or a nasal swab. And so they swab you, stick it in the viral media, and then you're on your way we have your demographic information, and we'll follow up with test results when those come back. Right now the turnaround time from Labcorp is about four days. We'll see if that happens any quicker."

While Wednesday's testing site was at Dorey Park in eastern Henrico, the testing was open to residents throughout Central Virginia.

"We got a shipment of 200 test kits the day before yesterday. So we reserved 130 of those today, we're expecting more. And so we're hoping to do about the same at a testing site at a later date," Dr. Avula said.

The number of confirmed cases in Central Virginia are expected to grow in the coming weeks, so Dr. Avula said the quicker health leaders gather that data, the sooner things can inch back toward normalcy.

“We’ve made some really significant decisions to close our schools, to limit gatherings to ten people, to ask restaurants to not have more than ten people in their buildings. At some point, we need the data to tell us what are the disease levels in our community, and when can we start lifting some of these restrictions,” Dr. Avula said.

So what happens if you're not feeling well?

"When they call the call center, our nursing staff will actually call ask a little bit about their history. When was their onset of symptoms? What are their potential exposures? And based on those different factors, they'll decide, yes, this person should be tested, or no, they don't need to be," Dr. Avula said. "There are a lot of people with mild symptoms who may have had some exposure, the more we see this disease spread throughout out community, the more folks we were going to have who fall into that category. This has caused a real challenge for our healthcare community, so, many of my clinician colleagues have said, you know, we've got people showing up with fever and cough every day. You know, if we're not prepared, we don't have enough personal protective equipment, then we're losing staff, they've got to go and be self quarantine for 14 days. And so we're really trying to lighten the load through efforts like this, and direct people who have those symptoms to other testing sites so that our frontline health care providers can maintain their staffing.

Dr. Avula said he expected another pop-up testing situation on Friday or over the weekend.

"If people have symptoms and want to be tested, they can call 804-205-3501. You'll talk to our call center staff and if you meet criteria, they'll slot you for an appointment," Dr. Avula said. "We're really trying to avoid folks who aren't showing any symptoms. We're really trying to prioritize those who have developed symptoms."