WVU Medicine offering drive-thru virus testing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia University Medicine on Wednesday opened drive-thru coronavirus testing sites for pre-screened patients.

The sites will be in Morgantown, Parkersburg, Bridgeport, Wheeling, and Martinsburg, according to a WVU Medicine news release. They will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week.

Patients need a referral from a physician in order to have a sample collected at one of the sites to “ensure only the highest-risk patients are identified and receive the appropriate medical intervention,” the release said. Results will be ready in about three to four days.

Gov. Jim Justice on Tuesday announced West Virginia had its first person test positive for the virus. He said the person was in the state’s Eastern Panhandle but did not require hospitalization. All 50 U.S. states now have confirmed cases.

Justice had warned that it was only a matter of time before a confirmed case would be documented in the state. He and state health officials have repeatedly expressed frustration over limited testing nationwide.

He has ordered bars, restaurants and casinos in the state to close with the exception of carry-out food services. Schools statewide are closed until at least March 27, under an earlier order from Justice. A state of emergency is in effect for all of West Virginia.

State officials say that, as of Wednesday, 137 people have been tested for the virus, with 122 negatives, 14 tests pending and one positive.

Both Justice and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin have noted the virus could be especially damaging in West Virginia because of the state’s elderly population and high percentage of people with existing health problems. About 20% of West Virginia residents are age 65 and older.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough, and the vast majority recover in several weeks. But for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause severe illness, including pneumonia.

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