Doctor details what it’s like working at county’s first drive-thru coronavirus testing site

(WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.) — A doctor who works for the nonprofit group behind the first drive-thru testing site for the novel coronavirus in Florida’s Palm Beach County explained how patients were being tested for the deadly virus.

While the novel coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19, has symptoms similar to a cold or flu, such as fever and cough, they also includes shortness of breath. The infection’s symptoms range from mild in most cases to severe and requiring hospitalization and critical care.

Dr. Oneka Marriott, of the nonprofit health center Foundcare, told ABC News on Thursday that its drive-up testing, which began Monday, allows patients to call in. After responding to a series of questions, they can receive an appointment code for the test.

“When they arrive to our facility, we ask them a few questions and then we proceed to do the either [nasal or oral] swabs, and then they’re able to receive their test results within a few days,” she said.

Recently, the White House announced a new testing protocol where prospective patients are directed to a screening website. If they have symptoms, they will be directed to a drive-thru testing site. Those tests will be sent to labs for analysis, said Dr. Debbie Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator.

Marriott said her facility was testing patients based on the guidelines released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“As our [personal protective equipment] and our supplies are in limited resource, we’ve had to narrow some of that [criteria]. So, I know initially we were doing travel history, contact with COVID cases — confirmed COVID cases — but we’ve since prioritized to our health care workers who are on the front lines, to our law enforcement, fire and EMS and police as well as to those persons aged 65 and older who have certain risk factors and/or have had symptoms,” Marriott said.

“As you know, some of that data has changed and some of our younger individuals are having serious outcomes as well,” Marriott said. “And, so, we’re also offering testing to them.”

Marriott, whose husband has been a firefighter for almost 20 years and continues to work, also told ABC News about what life is like going from the front lines of the novel coronavirus pandemic to back home with their two children.

“We both come home to our two young children who don’t understand the idea of social distancing so it’s definitely been a challenge. We have to institute measures to kind of keep them away until we can decontaminate before we hug them and kiss them and love on them,” she said.

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