MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. – A new drive-thru coronavirus testing site is now available in the New River Valley.
On Tuesday, The Montgomery County Public Health Task Force opened the site at Blacksburg High School.
One of their goals is to protect health care workers and free up hospitals and urgent care centers to be able to treat patients having emergencies.
Another goal is to see how widespread the virus is, now that testing is more readily available.
“To use the information that we get out of these screenings to see how the illness might be moving through our community," said Jason Deese, an epidemiologist with the Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) New River Valley District.
The whole process is relatively easy and quick. It only takes about 20 minutes.
Deese said all people have to do is drive to the site, park and remain in their cars. A nurse or volunteer medical professional will then come up to the car, swab your nose and throat and send off the results to a lab. The results are expected back within seven to ten days after testing.
The new drive-thru testing option also makes testing more easily available to people who might not have met the testing requirements beforehand. However, the VDH is still limiting testing to people who show symptoms and may be at risk.
The testing site is not open to the public. It is only available to individuals by appointment, and directly invited by the VDH.
“Most of it is referrals from a doctor. So doctors can fill out an online form with the health department and we can set the person up with what I call a ‘golden ticket’ to get into the testing site," Deese said.
The VDH is hoping to see how widespread the virus is in the community, especially higher risk and heavily-populated areas like Montgomery County. The student and senior population is greater in the county and there have already been two confirmed cases there.
Deese said they tested about 40 people on the first day alone, which saves time, money and resources.
“This is one of many tools that we have in our toolbox in fighting coronavirus," Deese said.
The testing site locations and times will change based on need.
If you live in the New River Valley and have questions about coronavirus or if you think you need to be tested, call the New River Health District’s COVID-19 public health call center: 540-267-8240.