Throughout the pandemic, there’s been many options for testing in North Dakota — from first having PCR tests to now being able to buy an over-the-counter rapid test at your local pharmacy.
But drive-thru testing has recently taken a hit.
In November and December alone, there were between 110,000 and 115,000 tests issued, Chief Nursing Officer at the North Dakota Department of Health Nicole Brunelle says.
“This month right now, not including today’s testings, we’re almost at 120,000 and we still have another week and a half, two weeks of this month to go so we’re definitely going to see some record numbers in testing since the pandemic,” Brunelle said.
There’s 30 free sites throughout the state and the majority of those are by appointment — but there are less than a hand full of drive-thru sites.
“With our weather being as crazy as it is, and the cold temperatures, there’s very few that have that ability to have a drive-in,” she said.
As the weather gets warmer, more drive-thru testing sites will open — whether it be a pop-up event or a more consistent testing location, according to Brunelle.
One of the drive-thru sites available is through the Upper Missouri District Health Unit at Williston State College.
Each Monday at the Art Wood Building, a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site is set up.
They have PCR throat swab tests available at the college, Daphne Clark with UMDHU says.
“At least then people can stay in their cars and we’re not exposing people around them, people aren’t congregating in large masses of people so they can stay separated in their family units in their vehicles,” said Clark.
Results come back typically within three to seven days, which, in some cases, is not soon enough and that’s where walk-in testing areas come into play.
“The majority of our facilities, our large community testing sites, have two doors. One’s for asymptomatic, one’s for symptomatic and it’s usually pretty well divided,” Brunelle said.
Precautions taken for the testing centers are very strict, said Brunelle.
Both Brunelle and Clark agree that no matter how you would like to be tested as long as you’re doing it, you’re helping to save our community.
“If people can get tested then they know if what they have is a cold or the flu, or if it is COVID and then they can take the precautions to protect the people around them,” said Clark.
The recent peak in testing numbers is from the number of travelers, those who are sick with symptoms and asymptomatic testers, Brunelle said.
There are also concerns over people contracting the flu, but she says being proactive about testing is a way to help.