University of Washington faculty can get coronavirus test at drive-thru clinic

Mar 10 2020, 10:45 am

Following Korea’s lead of creating drive-thru screening clinics for COVID-19 testing, the University of Washington School of Medicine has set up its own just like it.

The testing site, which opened last Friday, is solely for staff, faculty, and trainees of UW Medicine who are currently facing symptoms of an upper respiratory infection, including fever, a new cough, or shortness of breath.

Employees who meet the criteria of testing are able to drive up to the testing center, which is run out of tents in an open-air parking garage.

Using protective equipment, a nurse trained in infection-control protocols conducts the test. Those being tested remain in the quarantine of their car and will receive guidance on the next steps until their samples are tested within 24 to 48 hours.

According to Dr. Seth Cohen, over 175 staff, faculty members, and trainees have asked about testing. As of Sunday, 94 of them have been tested for both the common flu and COVID-19, with none of them testing positive for coronavirus.

If any employee were to test positive, they would be notified immediately and given additional instruction on how to proceed. This would likely involve self-isolating, unless the symptoms are worsening.

“Unfortunately no one knows yet how long the COVID epidemic will last,” Cohen said. “It’s important to point out that while the employees tested so far at the drive-through site have been negative for COVID, we are still seeing a fair amount of influenza in our clinic.”

While the testing site is not currently available to all Seattle residents, it’s a good sign that additional testing is moving in the right direction.