As the number of Louisianians testing positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) has ballooned beyond 600 – more than half of which are in Orleans Parish – Mayor LaToya Cantrell announced today that two drive-through testing centers will be available to residents who exhibit symptoms of the virus. The two locations will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, or until they reach their maximum capacity of 250 tests per day.
The two testing centers, which previously only serviced first responders, expanded today to include anyone with symptoms, thanks to a pilot program in cooperation with the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
President Donald Trump previously claimed that the testing centers would be available to “anyone who wants a test,” a statement his administration later had to walk back.
Instead, the testing centers will currently only see residents who have a fever, which officials will measure using a no-touch thermometer. The tests will be conducted by personnel from the City of New Orleans, the Louisiana National Guard, the Medical Reserve Corps, and the United States Public Health Service.
People who show up for testing will first be asked for identification and health insurance information, but individuals will be tested for free regardless of whether or not they have insurance.
Testing officials will administer a nasal swab, and residents can expect to receive the results of the test within three to five days.
Individuals who have a fever and think they may have the coronavirus can visit two testing centers within Orleans Parish – either in the Mahalia Jackson Theater parking lot, at 1419 Basin Street, or in the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena parking lot, at 6801 Franklin Avenue.
A third testing center in Jefferson Parish can also administer up to 250 tests a day. That testing center is located at 2000 Segnette Boulevard in Westwego, in the Alario Center parking lot. Earlier news reported that each center in Orleans Parish could only test 100 individuals per day, but according to NOLA Ready’s Twitter account, all three centers now have the capacity to test 250 people a day.
According to the NOLA Ready website, these tests are only available to people who are in a vehicle. A previous tweet by NOLA Ready had said that people on bicycles could also receive treatment, but the tweet has since been deleted, without any correction made by the City.
People who do not have access to a vehicle are unable to be tested right now, so one in five New Orleanians cannot be tested. This gives rise to concerns about equity in who can access vital COVID-19 technology. Officials are reportedly seeking to create a testing center available on the Lafitte Greenway that is accessible to people who do not have a motor vehicle.
According to the United States Public Health Service, even if you test negative, you could be exposed and test positive later.
If you do test positive, you should keep your entire household indoors. Do not go to the hospital unless there is a medical emergency, and call the hospital before you arrive. Home isolation ends after three criteria are met: you have been fever-free for three days without using fever-reducing medication, your other symptoms have improved, and at least seven days have passed after the symptoms first appeared.
Earlier today, the Food and Drug Administration approved a new test that could detect COVID-19 within 45 minutes, but there is no word on how soon these would be available on a large scale.
This is a developing story. Continue to monitor NOLA Ready at https://ready.nola.gov/home/ for updates.