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New drive-through COVID testing sites begin operating Tuesday in the Roanoke Valley in efforts to help slow the spread — and its impacts on health care providers. With local cases surging, and more COVID patients requiring treatment, the Virginia Department of Health hopes more drive-through testing will catch more cases more quickly. The drive-through COVID testing is set for Tuesdays at the Salem Civic Center, 4:00 to 7:00 pm. That begins Tuesday, and starting next week at Fincastle Baptist Church, every other Monday from 3:00 to 6:00 pm. More from WFIR’s Evan Jones:

NEWS RELEASE: (ROANOKE, VA) – As demand for COVID testing has continued to increase, Roanoke City and Alleghany Health Districts (RCAHD) has worked with the Central Office of the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to identify opportunities to offer free COVID-19 testing at select locations over the next several weeks.

In the past week, as RCAHD has continued to see a surge in local COVID-19 cases, emergency departments and urgent care centers have been challenged to meet the demand for testing while trying to serve residents who need medical attention. All counties in Virginia are currently at a high level of transmission of COVID-19.

“We hope that these sites will supplement the network of existing testing sites, including pharmacies and doctor’s offices, to help address the recent surge in demand for testing,” said Mary Kate Bowser, DNP, RCAHD Nurse Manager.

“We have worked to provide these additional testing locations to accommodate our residents and to help our hospital emergency rooms, urgent care centers, and rescue squads focus on the care of people who are ill.” said Bowser.

The new drive-thru community testing sites which can accommodate 100 people per event will be held beginning on Tuesday, September 14 at:

  • Salem Civic Center Parking Lot A on Tuesdays: 9/14, 9/21, 9/28, 10/5 and 10/12 from 4-7pm.
  • Dabney S Lancaster Community College on Thursdays: 9/16, 9/30, 10/14 and 10/28 from 4-7pm.
  • Fincastle Baptist Church on Mondays: 9/20, 10/4 and 10/18 from 3-6pm.

Additional local sites will be added as locations are secured. For an up-to-date list of all testing locations, visit https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-testing-sites/.

While vaccination is the most effective strategy to end the pandemic, testing remains an important tool to help identify and monitor trends in COVID-19 infection. VDH recommends that the following people be tested for COVID-19:

  • People with symptoms or signs of COVID-19, regardless of vaccination status.
  • People who have been referred for COVID-19 testing by their healthcare provider or the state/local health department.
  • Most people who have had close contact with someone known or suspected to have COVID-19.
    • Fully vaccinated people should be tested 3-5 days following a known exposure to someone with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, even if you don’t have symptoms.
    • People who are not fully vaccinated should be tested immediately after an exposure and again at 5-7 days following exposure if the first test is negative.
    • People who tested positive for COVID-19 within the past 3 months and recovered do not need to get tested after exposure as long as they do not have symptoms.
  • People who participate in activities that are higher risk for COVID-19 exposure (e.g., travel, attending large events where social distancing is not possible, or being in crowded indoor settings).
  • People who plan to travel or who have recently returned from travel, with some exceptions for fully vaccinated people.
  • People who are not fully vaccinated and who plan to visit people at high risk of developing severe COVID-19.

For more information about COVID-19 testing call (877) 829-4682, 8 a.m.-6 p.m., Monday-Saturday.