New York State opened its first drive-thru testing site for the novel coronavirus in New Rochelle over the weekend, and officials are now considering opening other testing areas, including in New York City.
The New Rochelle location opened on Saturday with more than 200 people being tested by medical professionals donning protective clothing, masks, and goggles. Those being tested — some with appointments and some being accepted without an appointment — open their windows partially for test-takers to swab their nose for a sample to test for the contagion.
The New Rochelle site — on Glen Island Park, separated from land by a bridge and a contingent of State Troopers — is a secure area to keep others from wandering into the site.
Several state and Westchester County police officers guard the entrance and ask each driver if they are here to be tested. Upon confirmation, if they have an appointment, they drive in one direction whereas others are allowed through to get tested anyway.
The tests are for people from New Rochelle only, as this was a nexus of many of the positive tests over the past two weeks.
The New Rochelle outbreak started with a New York City attorney, who was hospitalized in serious condition. It then was found that his entire family had the virus in various forms and symptoms, along with a man who drove the ill man to a hospital. It was soon learned that his entire synagogue may have been infected and numerous people were quarantined.
Residents of New Rochelle were pleased with the response and the way the state had set up the site away from population areas.
One woman walking her dog, who didn’t want to be identified, said she was confident in the state efforts.
“I think they are doing a great job,” she said as she walked her dog in nearby Neptune Park along the waterfront.
However, she said the virus has taken its toll on her family who are without school and their normal sports activities.
“My kids are just disappointed that they won’t have baseball or soccer this season — we are all sad about it, but at least we are not sick,” she said.
The area around the bridge going into the island was mostly desolate with most residents staying far away unless they needed testing. Media organizations were asked not to stop vehicles going in or out of the area for fear of spreading the virus.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday that a testing site would be opened on Long Island and others are being considered. Officials say drive-thru testing makes it easy for people to be tested — mostly taking only 15 minutes. Hundreds were expected to arrive at the New Rochelle site and many more will visit new sites when opened.
The state is following the lead of other countries, such as Germany and South Korea, who have turned to drive-through testing at ways to rapidly confirm cases and track its spread the spread of the virus.
To date, there are 613 confirmed cases, including 269 in New York City, officials said. Two coronavirus patients, an 82-year-old woman in Brooklyn and a 60-year-old man in Rockland County died of complications related to the illness.