WAYNESBURG – A line of cars was waiting at the Greene County Airport near Waynesburg as the county’s first pop-up COVID-19 testing site opened to the public Thursday morning.
In the three hours after opening at 9 a.m., more than a hundred cars had rolled through the temporary testing site located inside one of the airport’s hangars as a team of medical professionals from AMI Expeditionary Healthcare administered nasal swabs to test for the coronavirus.
“We’re getting little spurts here,” said Caitlin White, a nurse practitioner who serves as team leader for the dozen crew members at the site. “It’s been pretty steady.”
The team can administer up to 450 tests a day, and will be available for testing over the next four days from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. until the crew leaves Monday night to open a similar test site in Cambria County. The initiative is through the Pennsylvania Department of Health to offer pop-up testing centers in rural counties that do not have county health departments.
“People are very grateful we’re here,” White said.
Most of the cars going through had Pennsylvania license plates, but there were also several vehicles with West Virginia tags. The new temporary test site coincides with a surge in cases in locally and across the region.
Greene County recorded 27 new cases Thursday, and while none of those was attributed to the new testing site, the figures are expected to increase because of the additional testing. The county currently has 975 cases, which have nearly doubled in the past three weeks. Seven people in Greene County have died from COVID-19.
The coronavirus has taken an especially hard toll on neighboring Marshall County in West Virginia, where 35 people have died from COVID-19 over the past seven weeks after just one person died from the disease during the first seven months of the pandemic.
Greene County Chief Clerk Jeff Marshall said the Pennsylvania Department of Health organized the pop-up testing site in order to track the rise in COVID-19 cases across the region. It’s the first free clinic that has been offered in Greene County since the pandemic began.
“Obviously, it’s the state trying to determine the level of the COVID the county is experiencing,” Marshall said. “The turnout from (Thursday) morning was decent.”
WHS-Greene hospital has been offering testing at its facility in Waynesburg throughout the pandemic, although patients must be presenting symptoms at the time and receive a doctor’s prescription to be tested there. MedExpress has also been offering coronavirus tests through the pandemic.
The testing at the airport location is open to anyone over the age of 3 whether they have symptoms or not. People are asked to bring their government-issued photo identification and health insurance card, if they have one, although insurance is not required to be tested.
The average wait to get tested is about 30 minutes, White said. Results for people who are positive usually are returned in 24 to 48 hours, while people who test negative are notified about five days later.
White is expecting to see more people over the weekend, as is typical with their experiences at other locations across the state. She was happy with the airport site at 417 E. Roy E. Furman Highway because it was near the Waynesburg exit to Interstate 79, is centrally located in the county, offered plenty of room for vehicle lines to form and has a covered area inside the hangar to perform the tests.
“This is ideal because of the setup,” White said. “We work with whatever we have. We mold to fit with whatever the site offers us.”