Entertainment And News

How Does Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing Work?

Photo: Getty
How Does Drive-Thru Coronavirus Testing Work?

While it can still be hard for many to get tested for coronavirus in the United States (even if they're experiencing symptoms), one of the more efficient ways tests are being administered is via drive thru. 

Considering most of us go to a doctor's office when we're sick, this method seems a little unusual, but in the end, it's a good way to keep everyone safer. 

So how does drive thru coronavrirus testing actually work?

Here's what you need to know to be prepared.

RELATED: 9 Celebrities Who Recovered From Coronavirus

It may require calling ahead or getting a prescription for a test from a doctor.


A post shared by OC Register (@ocregister) on Apr 7, 2020 at 9:37am PDT

As much as we'd love to be able to roll up to a testing site and get swabbed, unfortunately, It's simply not that easy. Everything we've been reading in the news about how difficult it is to get tested isn't for nothing, and there are a few barriers that will have to be crossed before accessing a drive thru test. In some cases, this includes getting a prescription from the test from a doctor ahead of time, while in other cases, it means calling ahead to reserve a time to drive through.

Those getting tested will stay in the car the entire time.

In order to protect the healthcare workers administering the test and to make sure the process stays efficient, everyone getting tested will stay in the car. Though requirements certainly vary by state and location, those getting tested should have photo ID and their insurance card ready to show, and all that will be necessary is rolling down the window to get tested — sounds relatively simple! 

It will Involve that uncomfortable nose swab we've been hearing so much about.


A post shared by Sr. My-Lan M. Nguyen, spc (@sister_mylan) on Apr 14, 2020 at 1:56pm PDT

While different testing methods are being developed every day, the most common is still the nose swab that's been described as unpleasant by just about everyone who has experienced it. The test includes a very long Q-Tip being inserted in the nose, far enough back to capture the virus (if it's there). It'll probably be uncomfortable, but the good news is that it's over in a matter of seconds as long as the patient is able to stay still. Easier said than done, but that part is important.

It could take awhile.

Some drive thru sites are certainly busier than others, but if you're planning to get tested this way, it might be smart to budget for it to take up a decent chunk of your day. Some people have reported waiting in line (in their cars) for an hour or more, so it might be good to bring along something to eat ... and cue up a podcast to make the whole experience a bit more pleasant (as pleasant as it can be when you're feeling sick and waiting to find out if you have a novel virus, of course).

RELATED: The Blood Type That's Most Susceptible To Coronavirus

Getting results back isn't instant.

Sadly, rapid results tests aren't everywhere, and those who get tested via drive thru won't have their results back the same day — or even the next day. Many sites will tell patients that it will take five to seven days (and maybe longer) to get test results back but in the meantime, those suspected of having COVID-19 should quarantine at home to prevent spreading the virus to others. 

Drive thru testing isn't available everywhere yet.

Though these testing sites are becoming more and more common, they aren't everywhere yet. For a full list across the United States, click here — there are already over 600 drive thru locations in the country and counting. 

Getting tested for coronavirus can definitely be scary, but once that nose swab is over, all that's left to do is drive home and wait for the results to come in. Hopefully, more tests will become available ASAP... and maybe they won't involve scraping our brains.

RELATED: This Weird Change In Your Toes Could Mean You Have Coronavirus

Nicole Pomarico is an entertainment and lifestyle writer whose work has appeared in Cosmo, Us Weekly, Refinery29, and more.