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Drive-thru coronavirus test site may open in Summit County

Summit County generic
Posted at 5:58 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 19:39:16-04

AKRON, Ohio — Summit County Public Health is working with Akron area hospitals and other agencies to establish a drive-thru site to test for the coronavirus.

"We are actually looking at an external location away from the hospitals. The location is capable of having a large flow of vehicles and traffic and it's an open venue," said Chris Barker, the emergency preparedness supervisor for the health department.

Barker wouldn't divulge the exact location of the proposed site, but said establishing it depends on making sure enough test kits are available.

"If we have the capability, we would like to stand this up as soon as possible."

Drive-thru testing sites are currently set up at University Hospitals' Landerbrook Health Center in Mayfield Heights and Cleveland Clinic's main campus. Both locations were overwhelmed by the demand for testing earlier this week.

On Wednesday, the Cleveland Clinic said it was reserving on-site testing for those 61 years or older (who are considered to be high risk), or patients already hospitalized. A doctor's order is also required to be tested.

The University Hospitals location also requires a doctor's order and is testing high-risk people, those who may need to be hospitalized and others who have possible symptoms as capacity allows.

All people entering UH Portage Medical Center in Ravenna are having their temperatures checked at entrances. The only place where patients are being swabbed in that building is the emergency department. All swabs are sent to UH Cleveland Medical Center to be analyzed for possible COVID-19.

UH Portage is also setting up a drive-thru testing center near the hospital on Enterprise Parkway, but have no plans to open yet.

In a prepared statement, a UH spokesperson said, "We are preparing for all contingencies as we progress in our response. The off-site swabbing location may evolve into something different as we move along. We want to be able to respond to any community healthcare need that arises."

Summit County Common Pleas Court Judge Susan Ross has been trying to get tested for the coronavirus all week.

Last week, she developed a dry cough and assumed it was allergies.

"On Sunday, I got a fever and then I though, 'Oh, this is a little more than I thought it was.'"

To be safe, Ross asked for a doctor's order. On Monday and Tuesday, she tried to get tested at the drive-thru sites in Cleveland and Mayfield Heights, but the lines were cut off.

"They said they ran out of tests." she said.

On Wednesday, the clinic told Ross that only people over the age of 61 were being tested, so she remains on a wait list to possibly be tested.

After the experience, the judge—who placed herself in self-quarantine as a precaution—feels it's important for a testing site to be established in the Akron area.

"That means my whole staff, my whole courtroom is basically shut down and if I could just get a test and prove that I don't have it, then we could all go back to work next week."