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Packed pop-up COVID testing sites allow for walk-ins

(WCAX)
Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 6:06 PM EDT
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A recent report found Vermont is one of only four states in the country doing enough testing to keep the coronavirus at bay -- and Vermonters are lining up to get those tests. While some pop-up testing sites are booked for up to three weeks weeks, our Cat Viglienzoni found those online spots are only part of what's available on any given day.

"Not too bad -- a little tickly," is how Sofia Nuovo described her COVID-19 test. She and her best friend, Nataleigh Noble, are heading out of town to Maine for the holiday weekend, so they came to a pop-up test site at Champlain Elementary to make sure they didn't bring the virus with them.

"I'm working at a summer camp with kids, so you can never be too careful," Noble said. "I want to know that I'm safe and will be okay with other people."

It's been busy at this site. People driving up all day getting their test and then driving off. "We've probably seen close to 240 patients come through our test site today here on Pine Street," said Travis Redman, a physician assistant giving the tests.

About 150 of the spots were reserved in advance, but we learned that shouldn't let that discourage you, because they had another 100 tests for walk-ins, including one for this reporter.

First came the paperwork -- filling out my basic personal information to know when I should expect my results.

"So what's going to happen is, they're going to call you within 72 hours if you are positive. And if you're negative, you're going to see the results in the mail. It takes about a week in the mail," a health worker told me.

Another health worker who gives the test explains that they're going take a long swab and stick it up my nose to the back of my throat to get a sample. It's uncomfortable but quick.

The convenience of the pop-up sites is one one the reasons many are booked for weeks ahead. Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine while there are other options like health clinics, they will continue with the pop-up sites. "I can't imagine us stopping the strategy knowing that they have provided such an important outlet," he said.

He says they're trying to get pharmacy chains on board but none have stepped up yet. Levine Wednesday said that for people who want peace of mind sooner, they're establishing a team that will start calling those people who also have negative tests too to give them their results.