The city’s first drive-thru coronavirus testing facility opened on Staten Island Thursday as the potentially deadly illness continues to plague the Big Apple.
The state-run mobile testing hub is operating out of the parking lot of the South Beach Psychiatric Center on Seaview Avenue in the borough and will be open daily 7 a.m.-7 p.m. by appointment only, officials said.
“There are several hundred appointments in place here today,” said Jason Conwall, a spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, adding that the site will be able to process hundreds of appointments per day.
Within less than two hours of the facility opening at 11 a.m. Thursday, a line of about 18 cars could be seen waiting to get access to the testing center, as state troopers vetted those inside from behind closed windows.
Signage attached to traffic cones surrounding the area read: “Keep windows closed,” and “Windows up at all times.”
Those who want to get tested at the facility must pass through a series of checkpoints in order to be taken.
“They pull up to the first small tent, they have their ID on the dashboard. That’s going to be the first checkpoint,” Conwall said. “They confirm the appointment or if they don’t have one they will instruct them how to make an appointment by holding up a tablet with the instructions on it and they will turn that car around and send them out.”
Those with appointments with then proceed through to the next tents set up.
“Nurses wearing a face mask, face shield, and a Tyvek apron confirm the appointment again and align the serial number of the test kit with the person’s ID in the system and then they pull forward to the center of the tent — a 20 foot by 20 foot area hot zone — where they open their window.”
There a health professional donning a full Tyvek suit takes two swabs – one by mouth or throat and one by nose, according to Conwall.
“Then they roll the window up,” Conwall said. “Then a final nurse gives instructions for when they go home. They hold up a sign with instructions on getting results.”
“Also, if they are symptomatic, how they should quarantine,” he said. “The whole process takes a couple of minutes.”
Officials said that Staten Island’s drive-thru testing facility for COVID-19 is the fifth in the state.
The state’s other mobile testing centers are located in New Rochelle, Jones Beach, Stony Brook and Rockland County.
There were more than 4,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in the state as of Thursday.
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