New coronavirus drive-thru test sites open, drawing huge lines: 'Not for the worried well'

One new drive-thru site in New Jersey that drew long lines of cars Friday plans to conduct 2,500 tests a week with priority to first responders, health care workers and those showing symptoms.

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By Minyvonne Burke

Swarms of New Jersey residents lined up Friday morning as the state opened its first government-run coronavirus drive-thru testing site.

The site is among many offering drive-thru testing that are opening around the country, some of them drawing big crowds.

Hundreds of cars, some with a single passenger and others packed with four, were lined up Friday morning at Bergen Community College in Paramus, located about 20 miles from Manhattan, to get tested for coronavirus, according to NorthJersey.com. The National Guard was brought in to assist state police with monitoring the testing site.

Residents wanting tests could have to wait hours, Christopher Neuwirth, the state's assistant health commissioner told the outlet.

Bergen is the state's largest county and the hardest hit by the pandemic, with 195 confirmed coronavirus cases within its borders as of Thursday, according to NJ.com.

The site plans to conduct 2,500 tests a week but will give priority to first responders, health care workers and those showing symptoms.

"This is not for the worried well," Col. Patrick Callahan, superintendent of the state police, told NorthJersey.com on Thursday, saying that people who are not experiencing symptoms won’t be tested.

Similar long lines of vehicles formed Wednesday outside a community health center in Florida's Miami-Dade County that began offering drive-thru testing, NBC Miami reported.

At the Miami-Dade center, a half-dozen healthcare workers in protective gear were there to greet those driving up. Among those arriving as a patient was a doctor who works at the center.

Also on Wednesday, the Sahara West Urgent Care in Clark County, Nevada, was forced to turn people away, according to NBC affiliate KSNV in Las Vegas.

The urgent care center said it only had 250 tests available and reached capacity hours before the site even opened.

In the New York City area, mobile testing sites have opened in New Rochelle and in Nassau, Rockland, and Suffolk counties. A number of hospitals in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens also have drive-thru testing locations.

According to NBC New York, testing at the facilities typically takes about 15 minutes each and people will receive their results in 2 to 3 days. But, as of now, New Yorkers hoping to get tested for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, will either need to have their health care provider set up an appointment or call the state's coronavirus hotline to see if they meet the requirements.

Those who are considered high-risk, such as seniors and people with compromised immune systems will have priority to the tests, NBC New York reported.

In Georgia, a new drive-thru site opened this week for the metro Atlanta area. It's one of several sites that county health officials are running across the state. Similar to New York and other states, the Georgia Department of Public Health said tests are prioritized for first responders, health care workers, people working in long-term care settings, and people who live in a setting where the virus can spread quickly, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.