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Drive-thru coronavirus testing arrives in CNY

By Eric Reinhardt


How it works              

Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta (at podium) and Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon are pictured discussing local testing for the coronavirus. (ERIC REINHARDT / CNYBJ)

SYRACUSE — When Onondaga County announced its first confirmed case of the coronavirus, Onondaga County Health Commissioner Dr. Indu Gupta was asked about the testing process during a March 16 news conference.

“When we get notification from the New York State Department of Health lab, electronic surveillance lab, we go through the information and contact the doctor … where this test was done. We have to back track the path of this individual,” Gupta told reporters. 

During the interview, health-care workers pursue details such as where the patients have been; any travel history and what their social interactions were; if they saw any other doctors or any other friends; and what kind of social gathering in which they may have participated. 

“We have to back track and collect all that information by interviewing. [Health-care workers also] make sure to advise them to self-quarantine, depending on what kind of interactions they had,” said Gupta. 

Syracuse test site

The Syracuse Community Health Center (SCHC) at 819 S. Salina St. opened a drive-thru test site on March 16 where people can get gets swabs taken through their car window to be tested for the coronavirus, or what’s also known as COVID-19.

Chicago, Illinois–based Hill-Rom and the Allyn Foundation donated the necessary equipment so the site would be prepared for operations.

Dressed in full personal protective equipment, Amy Samson, RN, an employee of Rome Memorial Hospital, performs a dry run prior to the opening of hospital’s COVID-19 collection station. The station is open by appointment only. (Photo credit: Rome Memorial Hospital)

The Syracuse Community Health Center, [emergency rescue service] AMR, and the City of Syracuse developed the plans to operationalize the site. AMR, short for American Medical Response, is a Colorado–based ambulance service with Syracuse operations.

People who are having coronavirus symptoms need to call their doctor, who will coordinate any necessary testing. For people who don’t have a primary-care physician, they can call Upstate Medical University at (315) 464-3979.

Elsewhere in Central New York, Rome Memorial Hospital has opened a temporary COVID-19 test-collection station at Chestnut Commons, 109 E. Chestnut St., Rome (see photo, page 1). The site will be open by appointment only. To obtain an appointment, people need to call their doctor. Physician offices will contact the Oneida County Health Department with referrals for patients who meet the CDC’s guidance for testing. The county will contact the hospital to schedule patients for testing.

Mohawk Valley Health System also has a testing site up and running.