By Jake Sheridan
and Cameron Beach
Duke Health will begin piloting drive-up coronavirus testing today, The 9th Street Journal confirmed.
This limited pilot will be available only to patients who were prescribed COVID-19 tests via Duke Health tele-health appointments, where patients meet with clinicians online. Health system officials hope to make drive-up testing open to the community soon.
“A limited pilot of a drive-up testing approach will be conducted today for a small group of patients who will have already received a ‘prescription’ from a tele-health appointment to obtain the test,” according to a written statement from Duke Health.
“This first-run is not broadly open to the community at this point, but we hope to expand capabilities moving ahead, and will notify the community when additional locations are available. People who believe they may have COVID are encouraged to speak with their health care provider to determine the advisability of testing.”
The statement did not disclose where drive-up pilot testing will occur.
One advantage of drive-through testing is that it can prevent some people infected with coronavirus from spreading the disease inside hospitals and clinics.
Duke Health placed restrictions on hospital and clinic visitors on Monday “to minimize the spread of both COVID-19 and seasonal flu.” Visitors aren’t allowed inside Duke hospitals between 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., except during emergencies, and all visitors will be screened for signs of illness before they enter.
Duke is also limiting how many people can accompany patients inside the hospital, including in delivery rooms.
North Carolina officials announced Saturday that testing is expanding across North Carolina.
Hospitals in New York, California and elsewhere, including spots in North Carolina, have launched drive-through testing efforts in recent days. This is the first confirmed in the Triangle.
Duke’s statement noted that Duke Health is continuing to develop its own in-house COVID-19 test. “We anticipate having our in-house testing available soon,” it said.