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Drive-Through Testing Moves To A Single Site In New Orleans

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Travis Lux
/
WWNO
National guard troops stand outside the entrance to Mahalia Jackson theater on the first day of the drive through testing program. That site will be closed. The only site left with be at the UNO Lakefront Arena.

New Orleans is consolidating its drive-through test sites for the coronavirus. The move is a response to a slow-down in traffic, and the need to consolidate resources, city officials said on Monday.

The sole location for drive-through testing in the city is now at the UNO Lakefront Arena parking lot. The site will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and tests will be capped at 500 per day. As before, only those with symptoms who are 18 years of age or older can use the site.

Almost 7000 tests have been completed at three drive-through sites in the New Orleans area, said Dr. Jennifer Avegno, the Director of the New Orleans Health Department.

But few results have been returned.

“We’ve been talking to the labs that are running the tests,” Dr. Avegno said. “They have assured us they are increasing their processing times, but we have seen five to seven days, even longer to get those results back.”

That could be a problem for ensuring people with the virus keep themselves isolated to stem the spread.

At the state lab, 95 percent of its tests are being reported within three days, 66 percent within two. Next week, the state lab also expects to start using a new piece of equipment, which could speed up the process.

At CrescentCare, a sexual health and HIV clinic in the city, results were taking seven days, but are now down to three or four days. Still, Dr. Jason Halperin says he’s been alarmed at the rate of positives he’s seen. Of the 121 tests analyzed so far there, 39 have been positive—about one third.

The clinic is one of few sites testing those who have symptoms but aren’t sick enough to go to a hospital, and who also don’t have access to a car to use the city’s drive-through sites. CrescentCare’s clientele also tend to skew younger.

“Being able to tell them if they are positive really helps to reinforce the recommendation of social distancing,” Dr. Halperin said.

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Rosemary Westwood is the public and reproductive health reporter for WWNO/WRKF. She was previously a freelance writer specializing in gender and reproductive rights, a radio producer, columnist, magazine writer and podcast host.

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