New drive-thru COVID-19 testing site ups Winnebago County testing abilities

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) ─ Health experts say testing is critical to get communities back to normal. Friday, March 23, a new drive-thru COVID-19 testing site will open, allowing 500 hundred more people to be tested everyday in Winnebago County.

The facility will open on the UIC Health Sciences campus at 1601 Parkview Avenue in Rockford.

“It is a privilege to be here with such fine individuals here in Rockford for what is now the fifth testing site the National Guard is supporting,” said Major A.J. Ruggieri, whose Illinois Army National Guard is helping run the site.

Lines of cars are soon expected at the UIC College of Medicine on Parkview Avenue as patients wait to receive a COVID-19 test.

“I also want to caution, less than 1% of our population has been tested,” said Winnebago County Department of Health Director Dr. Sandra Martell. “That’s why this option of a community based test, we call it the Triple-T (Triage, Testing and Transfer) site, is of utmost importance. Because in order for us to understand what the prevalence is which in the incidents, the new cases of the disease we have to have additional testing.”

While at the testing site patients will not be allowed to leave their vehicles.

When patients first pull in, National Guard members and volunteers will greet drivers. They will ask a series of questions , like symptoms patients may be showing. Patients will then drive to the next location on site where a healthcare professional will verify identities give patients the test.

“This is a self administered nasal swab,” said Dr. Martell. “Which is why it’s important for people to have symptoms, because it’s in the lower portion of the nose so we have to be able to get the secretions there.”

No appointments are needed.

All testing will be done in personal vehicles.

The drive-thru testing site will run seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or until 500 tests are completed each day.

Officials say it can be up to five days before someone finds out their results.

“They have told us it could be up to five days, but the turn around time right now has been about 48 hours,” said Dr. Martell. “Which is why there is a limit on the amount of tests, because again the lab capacity we want to be able to turn those out quickly, and everyone coming through that testing line is going to be put on what we call isolation.”

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