Hamilton County plans to open a drive-thru coronavirus testing site on Friday morning.
Becky Barnes, Hamilton County Health Department administrator, said the location will be a vehicle emissions testing site on Bonnyshire Drive off Bonny Oaks Drive.
She said the Health Department on Wednesday at 8 a.m. will begin to schedule appointments. A formal referral from a medical provider is required for testing and testing will be by appointment only.
Ms. Barnes said, “We are pleased to announce the opening of an additional COVID-19 specimen collection site in our county. This development represents a positive step so that infected people in the community can be identified early and aggressive contact tracing can begin immediately.”
County Mayor Jim Coppinger stressed that the testing is for those who have symptoms of the coronavirus. He said, "Don't just call and say I want to be tested" (without the specific symptoms for the virus).
The Health Department is asking local providers to refer clients who have been screened and determined in need of testing. These patients must be symptomatic.
Health Department staff will receive these referrals, contact patients, and schedule an appointment time for specimen collection. Individuals reporting to the assessment site must present a photo ID. Only the referred patient should be in the car, but if they need assistance please limit the number of people in the vehicle to one other support person. Only the referred patient will be tested. The patient should wear a mask if they have one.
The testing site will be operated by Hamilton County Health Department medical personnel and support staff. It will operate as a drive-though and patients will not have to leave their car. To collect the specimen, medical personnel will swab the nose of the patient.
Specimens collected at this assessment site will be sent for testing at the Hamilton County laboratory located at Baylor School. Test results will be sent to the referring physician and the Health Department within 24 hours. There is no cost to the patient for the test.
Referred patients who consent to testing are presumed positive until a negative test result is returned. They will be given a Letter of Isolation that requires their restricted movement until they receive a negative test result.
Restricted movement means:
· Stay at home and limit contact with others in the household.
· Designate a room to stay in with access to a bathroom that only they use, if at all possible.
· A patient should wear a face mask if they need to be within 6 feet of others in their home.
· For those patients receiving a test, persons who were in their presence 2 days prior to getting sick, should consider themselves quarantined and should significantly limit their contact with others as much as possible.
· If a patient needs to seek medical care for other reasons, such as dialysis, chemotherapy, they should call their doctor for guidance. If a patient needs to go out for a medical reason, they should wear a mask over their nose and mouth.
The Health Department continues to ask everyone to do their part to minimize the spread of the Coronavirus by practicing social distancing and using everyday actions to protect themselves.
According to CDC, everyone is susceptible to COVID-19 infection regardless of age, sex, race, country of origin, or economic status, while those aged 65 years and older, those who live in nursing homes or long-term care facilities, and those with other high-risk conditions are most likely to have serious outcomes.
For more information, please call the Health Department’s hotline at 209-8383, or visit the Health Department’s webpage at health.hamiltontn.org.
County Mayor Coppinger said the Baylor lab is now doing fewer than 50 tests a day, but plans to ramp up this weekend to 75. He said there can be many more tests done at Baylor after additional equipment that has been ordered arrives.
The county mayor continued to urge the practice of social distancing. He said, "That is the only way we are going to be able to combat this horrible virus. We're pleading for your help."
Ms. Barnes said the vehicle emissions center is an ideal spot for the testing, noting that it already has covered auto lanes and is centrally located in the county.
She said of the pandemic in Hamilton County, "We are not in the down side of this at all."