Hundreds took advantage of COVID-19 drive thru testing this past weekend

Published 4:40 pm Monday, April 20, 2020

Hundreds of cars lined up this weekend in Hawkins and Washington counties for drive thru COVID-19 testing.
The tests, which were free of charge, were distributed to both individuals showing symptoms and those who were not.
Dr. DavidKirschke, Medical Director of the Northeast Regional Health Office, said the reason for the event was to find undetected cases in the community.
“We think we are already testing the right people, but one of the reasons we’re doing this is to see,” he said. “So, we may see an increase because we are testing more people. So far around 10 percent of the people we test have been positive. We’ve mostly been testing people with symptoms, and that’s who we’ve been asking to come out. There have also been a lot of people with no symptoms who have come out. So our percent positive may decrease from that, we may see an increase. That’s one of the reasons we’re doing this increased testing is to find if there’s cases undetected in the community.”
Kirschke said the role of public health from there is to isolate the person who is sick and also test their contacts.
“Any case we can find, public health, our role is to isolate the person that’s sick and then quarantine all their close contacts, track them down and get them into quarantine,” he said. “So any additional case we find helps prevent some spread into the community.”
Kirschke went on to say why it is important that people take advantage of this testing.
“We really want everyone that has coronavirus to get tested so they know, so again they can be in isolation and we can prevent them spreading it, we can find all their contacts who might become sick,” he said. “The more cases we can detect the more we can prevent spread in the community.”
In Hawkins County, 470 tests were administered, and in Washington County 829 tests were administered.
Those who are tested at drive thru sites do not have to get out of their vehicles. They are given a nasal swab from their car by one of those working the site. Results come back in as soon as 72 hours.
While Kirschke said the amount of supplies on Sunday morning should cover those wanting to be tested. Anyone who could not be tested there can also be screened for free in their own counties.
There will be future drive thru testing sites, with the next being at Johnson County High School on Wednesday, April 22.
COVID-19 drive thru testing is available in Carter County Monday through Friday from 9-11 a.m. Pre-registration is encouraged, which can be done by calling the Northeast Coronavirus Information Line at 423-979-4689. Testing is free at any location hosted by the Tennessee Department of Health, which includes health departments.

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