State OKs two more testing locations in Jericho and Little Neck following day
Identifying people afflicted by the coronavirus being a key to keeping numbers down and avoiding having the health care system overwhelmed. Governor Andrew Cuomo expanded drive-through testing sites onto Long Island. The first one is a mobile unit set on the barrier island of Jones Beach built in 1930 by Robert Moses as a recreational escape for the working masses. The Jones Beach location was launched on Tuesday, March 17 at West End, 350 Bay Pkwy., Field 2.
Scheduling for the testing is being handled exclusively by the State of New York. If any residents have questions or believe they are showing symptoms, they are advised to contact the testing site at 1-888-364-3065 to make an appointment. Appointments are required to get tested at Jones Beach. Additional sites at Stony Brook University, in addition to ProHealth Urgent Care locations in Jericho and Little Neck, were launched the following day. These sites will also be open by appointment only, which can be scheduled by calling 516-874-0411.
Driving down to the West End beach past sand dunes and Torrey pines, a sign flashed “COVID-19 SAMPLE AREA. PRESENT ID. KEEP WINDOWS CLOSED.” At the first checkpoint, a man wearing a surgical mask directed reporters parked on the lawn of the New York State Park Police Headquarters. In the distance were three white tents erected in the parking lot of the Theodore Roosevelt Nature Center as lab techs suited up in Hazmat gear waited for cars to arrive. Jason Conwall, Cuomo’s deputy communications director, was on hand to explain how the system works.
“Anyone who suspects they may have COVID-19 or comes in contact with someone who has a confirmed case of C0VID-19 has to first call the hotline at 888-364-3065,” Conwall said. “A screener will determine if they meet testing center criteria and if they do they are given an appointment to come to the center. This is free testing and you don’t need a referral from a doctor. The center is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Each tent can accommodate two cars at a time, processing six cars simultaneously. The person remains in the car, rolls the window down and has the nose and mouth swabbed. The results are sent to Northwell and processed with results coming back in three days. Patients are notified by phone of the results.”
Conwell went on to explain how the mobile site in New Rochelle, the epicenter of the New York State outbreak, processed 1800 people a day during a four-day testing period.
With such an overwhelming number of people affected by the virus and a limited amount of doctors and nurses available to handle infected patients, retired medical professionals are being asked to get involved in the effort to fight this pandemic. They are advised to sign up at the New York State Department of Health website (www.health.ny.gov/assistance). At a recent press conference, Cuomo explained that the state was reaching out to qualified former doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals to supplement personnel at hospitals.
As cars started to arrive at the Jones Beach checkpoint, some drivers were wearing masks while others were not. Those without appointments were given a sheet of paper with the hotline number, instructed to call it and then directed around to the guard house. A steady stream of vehicles soon arrived and the process was very efficient and effortless. As each car lined up they were sequenced into each tent and were out in less than 15 minutes. One car arrived with two children in the back and was sent down the road to be tested. State officials said 468 people came through the Jones Beach drive-through site by the end of the first day.
For information on how to make an appointment at the drive-through testing site at Jones Beach or in Stony Brook, health officials say to call the New York State Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Hotline at 1-888-364-3065. Visit www.prohealthcare.com or call 516-874-0411 to make an appointment at ProHealth Urgent Care in Jericho or Little Neck.
-Dave Gil de Rubio also contributed to this story