There were dozens of cars in line an hour before Loudoun County, Virginia, began free drive-thru coronavirus testing Wednesday morning at Philip A. Bolen Memorial Park.
But shortly after 2:30 p.m., the Loudoun County government said in a statement that the site had already reached its capacity, and that anyone who got in line between 2:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. would be turned away.
County health department director Dr. David Goodfriend said that the plan was to provide a thousand tests Wednesday.
“We were well over that already. We think we’re on track for over 1,700 people being tested, which I think is a great success,” Goodfriend said.
The tests were available to anyone regardless of symptoms or whether they had a doctor’s order. A county spokesman said the contractor, Mako Medical, had more than 2,000 tests on site.
“We did, at the end of the day, have to turn away folks just with the number of tests that are available,” Goodfriend said. Although it is frustrating to have to wait and be turned away, there will be other testing opportunities in Northern Virginia coming up over the next weeks, he said.
The county is working to have another event with the same partners within the next couple of weeks, and hopefully there will be more advance notice so people can be scheduled for testing, Goodfriend said.
The site offered swab tests, which ascertain whether a person actively has COVID-19 — unlike the blood test, which gauges whether a person is immune to the virus.
An early crowd
By 8 a.m., an hour before testing began, several dozen cars were in line in the parking lot off Crosstrail Boulevard, which snakes past the new Loudoun United stadium. Sheriff’s deputies were in place to control traffic, if needed.
Cars were funneled into one of five testing lanes. With volunteers assisting and handing out information about COVID-19 in English and Spanish, each lane led to a white tent, where the driver, and any passengers, were tested.
“Take your mask down, honey, so I can swab your nostrils,” a lab worker instructed one of the early drivers to be tested.
When the lab worker said, “That’s it,” she packaged the test swabs as the next car pulled under the tent.
Goodfriend said people have been very patient as they waited to get tested, and one of the lessons for the future is how to potentially space out the people who are arriving.
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Mako Medical also conducted testing Monday and Tuesday in Prince William County, where some people had to be turned away.
Test results will be available within a week.
This weekend, the Fairfax County Health Department is hosting two events in Falls Church: Saturday at Annandale High School, and Sunday at Bailey’s Elementary School. Both events run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
In context, the drive-thru testing events provide jurisdictions a chance to offer residents a test if they don’t have a doctor or insurance.
Far more people with symptoms continue to receive tests when ordered by their physicians.
WTOP’s Abigail Constantino and Thomas Robertson contributed to this report.