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Martinsville Speedway opens a drive-thru coronavirus testing site

15 people were tested Wednesday

HENRY COUNTY, Va. – Valerie Nowlin is taking her life as a nurse day by day.

“Learning all we can every day from the CDC and the health department. Trying to keep educated and stay up-to-date," Nowlin said as she prepared for the coronavirus testing site at Martinsville Speedway to open. "I probably did imagine that something crazy would happen eventually in my time as being a nurse, but this close to home I’m not so sure.”

Before the testing site opened on Wednesday, she had one last chance to prepare.

A member of the Henry County Department of Public Safety volunteered to receive a coronavirus test to demonstrate to the media how it works.

Valarie Nowlin gives a coronavirus test demonstration to members of the media Wednesday morning.
Valarie Nowlin gives a coronavirus test demonstration to members of the media Wednesday morning. (WSLS)

Due to HIPPA regulations, media was not allowed to record actual patients getting tested.

“I’m not going to self-isolate because I’m going to have my proper precautions here. I take my shoes off before I go in my home, strip down my clothes, then they go straight to the washer and I go straight to the shower," Nowlin said. "I have the man above watching over us, so I think we are going to be fine.”

The testing site came together in a matter of weeks.

It was the brainchild of the Harvest Foundation, a nonprofit in Martinsville.

President Allyson Rothrock said the $300,000 the organization is spending on the site is worth every penny.

“We don’t know how long this is going to last and what is needed, but we certainly will be the partner at the table to understand what else is needed and you all we can to make sure to make sure our community is safe as well," Rothrock explained.

Only people who live in Martinsville and Henry and Patrick County and have a referral from their doctor will be allowed to get tested at the site.

Fifteen people were tested Wednesday.

“As long as we can get testing supplies, and we’re working with various partners so that shouldn’t be a problem, and as long as there’s cases, we will continue to be here,” VDH West Piedmont Health District Population Health Manager Nancy Bell said.

Sovah Health and local first responders are working with the VDH and the Harvest Foundation to run the site.

With 200 test kits and more on the way, how many people will ultimately be tested is unknown, but it’s a challenge Nowlin is looking forward to.

“It makes me extremely proud of what I do," Nowlin said.

The site is currently scheduled to be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 4 p.m., but that could change depending on demand.