Loudoun County and the Virginia Department of Health will offer free, publicly available drive-through testing for COVID-19 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park near Leesburg.
The testing is open to everyone, and will happen rain or shine. No appointments or prescriptions are necessary. There are no age or residency requirements. A person does not have to exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 to be tested.
Anyone who is tested will be asked to provide contact information so they can get test results. 1,000 tests are available, according to Gov. Ralph Northam and Loudoun County Health Department Director Dr. David Goodfriend.
Goodfriend said a contractor, Mako Medical, will provide the tests. And he said the test data, while limited, will be valuable for both health officials and people getting tested.
“It is only a point in time test, so if you test negative on Wednesday, that doesn’t mean you won’t have it on Thursday, so it is important to have ongoing access to testing,” Goodfriend said. “But it does help in a number of ways. One is, we continue to have folks call us up struggling to get testing, either because they don’t have access to a doctor who is doing testing or providing an order for testing, or they’re turned away because they don’t have symptoms. Plus, we know there are a number of folks out there who may be infected and don’t realize it, because they never become symptomatic.”
He also cautioned that the tests for the virus itself, not for antibodies. It will not tell people if they were infected in the past—only whether they have the virus now, and therefore might be contagious to others.
More testing overall, he said, helps medical professionals figure out what’s going on in the community. He has repeatedly warned before that with limited testing and some people never showing symptoms, it’s difficult to know how many people in the community have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
“When we only test those people who are sick or are in a congregant living setting, or otherwise in a high-risk group, that’s all we find,” Goodfriend said. “And we miss the others who are having difficulty getting to a doctor or who are otherwise feeling pretty good, but it’s not worth it for them to try to stuggle to find a test kit. It’s not going to make much of a difference in their care, so they get missed, and easily they pass it along to other people in their household.”
Goodfriend said the goal Wednesday is to rest people who otherwise might not be able to be tested.
“What this provides is a setting for folks who don’t have a doctor that will do the tests for them, don’t have insurance that will fully cover them, or because they’re not having symptoms and therefore can’t get tested,” Goodfriend said.
It is part of a surge of testing in high-risk areas around the state, including locations around Northern Virginia, Richmond, and Portsmouth. Between today and Monday, May 25 the state plans to administer 9,520 tests, including the 1,000 at Bolen Park.
And, Goodfriend said, health officials are constantly looking for ways to increase ongoing testing.
To get testing, enter the park from Crosstrail Boulevard onto Loudoun United Drive. Drivers will be directed into parking lots and into lanes for drive-through testing. They will be asked for their name, date of birth, address, phone number and current symptoms, if any.
Drivers will then be asked to proceed to the next station to have their specimen collected. A nasal swab is preferred, but oral swabs are available upon request.