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Drive thru COVID-19 testing site to open in Missoula

Missoula County Fairgrounds
Posted at 9:57 PM, Apr 06, 2020

MISSOULA — A drive-thru nasal swab testing site for coronavirus (COVID-19) is up and running in Missoula.

Local health officials are now offering an appointment-based coronavirus testing at the Missoula County Fairgrounds. However, due to limited testing supplies, people have to fall into priority 1 or priority 2 categories in order to be tested.

Missoula COVID-19 Incident Commander Cindy Farr says those categories include healthcare facility workers, patients in long-term care, patients 65 years of age and older, patients with underlying health conditions such as cardiac conditions or respiratory conditions, and first responders.

People who fall into one of the categories -- and are showing symptoms of coronavirus -- should call (406) 258-INFO to speak with a nurse and receive a referral to be tested at the drive-thru site.

Once at the fairgrounds, Farr said people will be conducting your own swab test from your vehicle.

“Basically, what we're doing is having patients do their own swab in order to reduce the chances of exposing our healthcare workers,” said Farr.

The healthcare worker assisting you will explain how to stick the swab up your nostril and swirl it around.

“We can’t tell at what point it becomes uncomfortable for you as a patient, so if you’re the one that’s in control of sticking that cue tip in your nose, then you can stop when it hits the turbinate's where it might become uncomfortable.”

Once you’re finished, you’ll be given a mask and sent on your way.

Right now, all of the testing done at the fairgrounds will be sent to the state lab with a turnaround time of about 24 to 48 hours. At that point, you can expect a call from a nurse with your results.

The local health department had about 200 testing kits on Monday, but they hope to get a significant addition to their supply by the end of the week. The drive-thru will initially be open on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday this week.