COLONIAL HEIGHTS, Va. -- A COVID-19 self-testing site opened Thursday at the Rite Aid in Colonial Heights in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
The self-swab testing site, which is one of 25 Rite Aid locations across eight states offering the service, is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week.
Folks must register before coming to the parking lot of the drugstore, located at the intersection of Boulevard and Ellerslie, to get tested.
"They have to register the day before by going to RiteAid.com, so they'll have an appointment," Shelly Boyle with Rite Aid said.
Eligibility is based on guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). [Click here for CDC guidance on testing]
"Patients are required to provide government issued identification, be at least 18 years old and need to pre-register online in order to schedule a time slot for testing," Rite Aid officials said.
For those who qualify, the entire procedure is quick and painless -- and requires no person-to-person contact, officials said.
"It's very simple. The patient does it all themselves," Boyle explained. "They just insert a swab at the midpoint of their nostril... [and] the patient will get the results in 2 to 7 days."
The testing is free to people who meet criteria established by the CDC and Boyle estimated the site could potentially test up to 400 people per day.
"We're tentatively scheduled to be here through May," she said.
For medical professionals like Dr. Dusty Anderson, the rapid test doesn't just benefit patients.
"They're extremely important," Anderson said. "One of the most important aspects of these rapid test sites that they're doing throughout the state, is getting surveillance information to the Virginia Department of Health to figure out where these hotspots are with patients in the communities."
Anderson said easy accessibility to sites like this one is key to helping get more people safely tested.
"It is completely safe for the community, because if you are a patient that has coronavirus, you're going to infect people 6 to 8 feet away," Anderson explained. "These testing centers have been established with a good enough perimeter where it keeps everybody else completely safe."
The testing site in Colonial Heights is open to anyone living in the surrounding areas, but officials stressed an appointment is required.
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.Avoid non-essential travel.