How drive-thru coronavirus testing works and where you can get it done

With the spread of coronavirus dominating every news outlet across the country, it’s easy to see why so many people are beginning to wonder if that cough that just started, the extra fatigue they’ve been feeling, or those body aches are a sign that they have COVID-19.

And, there’s only one sure way to know the answer to that question — getting tested.

Yet, let’s face it…

The roll-out of COVID-19 tests in the U.S. has been slow at best and many people have been turned away at doctors’ offices and even hospitals across the country with the news that symptoms aren’t enough to warrant a test (even if they tell you to self-isolate, just in case).

Luckily, however, more and more states have been rolling out drive-thru coronavirus testing facilities and the capacity is increasing significantly on a weekly basis.

So, what can you expect with drive-thru coronavirus testing? And, which states offer it?

We’ve got your answers right here…

What is coronavirus testing from your car like?

First, it’s important to note that most if not all mobile testing sites ask that you call first before just driving up.

In fact, my own doctor explained the process to me like this…

You call in and talk to a nurse to go over your symptoms or your likelihood of exposure — for example, have you come from a coronavirus hotspot or had contact with a person who has been diagnosed with the virus. They will also ask if you have fever, chills, cough or shortness of breath.

Related: Mild, moderate and severe symptoms of COVID-19: How to tell the difference

Next, they tell you whether or not you should come in. If you’re cleared to arrive at a coronavirus testing site, you will stay in your car, with your windows up, although you may be asked to crack your window to have your temperature taken. A qualified person may ask you questions as well and analyze your situation in greater depth so that a final decision can be made as to whether or not you can be tested.

In some states, you’ll also need a doctor’s orders and an appointment time. You’ll also need to have your driver’s license ready.

The majority of coronavirus tests used are what are known as “nasopharyngeal swab tests.” For these, a health care worker will gently insert what looks like a long Q-tip as far as it’ll go into a person’s nose, twirl the swab to get a good sample, then remove it and place it in a vial, which is then sent to a lab for testing.

Early on in testing for COVID-19, people were getting both a nasal and an oral swab because doctors didn’t know which would be most reliable, but because of swab shortages the test now typically involves doing just a single swab of the nose. But don’t be surprised if your local drive-thru coronavirus testing site uses one of these two methods.

All of this takes about 15 minutes — not counting any wait. Your sample is then sent to a lab to look for the virus’s RNA. If it’s present, you’ve got coronavirus. If not, hopefully, you will stay in the clear.

However, it’s important to note that it usually takes at least 24 hours to receive your results, but I have heard reports of it taking much longer however to get results. It’s important to self-quarantine until you get your results, however long that may be.

Which states have drive-thru testing

According to the CDC, testing is available in all 50 states, plus the District of Colombia, Guam, and Puerto Rico. To get a test, the CDC recommends contacting your state health department.

Local Health Departments may update information about drive-thru locations in your area. Of course, lists and locations could change rapidly as testing levels are ramped up in more areas to combat the spread of coronavirus.

But currently, several states offer drive-thru coronavirus testing, and I’ve also come across this list which appears to be updated regularly:

  1. Alaska
  2. Alabama
  3. Arizona
  4. California
  5. Colorado
  6. Connecticut
  7. Delaware
  8. Florida
  9. Georgia
  10. Illinois
  11. Indiana
  12. Louisiana
  13. Maryland
  14. Massachusetts
  15. Michigan
  16. Minnesota
  17. New Jersey
  18. New York
  19. North Dakota
  20. Ohio
  21. Oklahoma
  22. Pennsylvania
  23. Rhode Island
  24. Tennessee
  25. Texas
  26. Virginia
  27. Vermont
  28. Washington

So, if you’re experiencing symptoms of coronavirus, such as cough, fever, fatigue, loss of smell and taste, pink eye, and more, call your doctor to see if you should be tested at one of these drive-thru sites. It could help slow the spread of the virus and save lives — including yours.

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  1. Coronavirus (COVID-19) Drive-Thru Testing Locations In Oklahoma —
  2. New coronavirus drive-thru test sites open, drawing huge lines: ‘Not for the worried well’ — NBC News
  3. Going to a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site? Here’s a step-by-step look at what to expect
  4. Coronavirus test: What is it like to get the nasal swab for detecting COVID-19? — Today
  5. A new coronavirus drive-through testing site is opening in the Bronx — CNBC
  6. Walmart to launch pilot-program for drive-thru testing in Bentonville — WWLP
  7. April 2: Health Department’s evening report shows 123 confirmed COVID-19 cases on Treasure Coast; 3rd death in SLC — TCPalm
  8. Testing for Coronavirus (COVID-19) — University Hospitals
  9. How to get tested for coronavirus in Michigan — Bridge Magazine
  10. Drive-thru coronavirus test locations in Southeast Louisiana —
  11. Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing Available at Some Area Hospitals, but With Tight Restrictions — NBC Chicago
  12. Where to get tested for coronavirus in Tennessee —
  13. Going to a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site? Here’s a step-by-step look at what to expect — USA Today
  14. Drive-Through Coronavirus Testing: How It Works and Which States Offer It —
  15. What to know about coronavirus testing, including drive-thru clinics, as COVID-19 spreads in US — ABC News
  16. What It’s Like to Get a Drive-Through Coronavirus Test — AARP
Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

By Dr. Adria Schmedthorst

Dr. Adria Schmedthorst is a board-certified Doctor of Chiropractic, with more than 20 years of experience. She has dedicated herself to helping others enjoy life at every age through the use of alternative medicine and natural wellness options. Dr. Schmedthorst enjoys sharing her knowledge with the alternative healthcare community, providing solutions for men and women who are ready to take control of their health the natural way.