Montco drive-thru COVID-19 testing site opens this weekend. Here’s what you need to know

Jim Melwert
March 19, 2020 - 5:38 pm

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UPDATED: March 20, 7:58 a.m., with Val Arkoosh interview above.

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (KYW Newsradio) — Montgomery County officials say they will open a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site on Saturday, but they are limiting who can get tested first.

The facility has been set up on the Temple University Ambler campus, located at 1400 Butler Pike. But Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh said they will prioritize testing for workforce personnel first, including first responders and health care workers.

The testing site will open Saturday at 10 a.m., but it is by appointment only. Residents can register on the county’s website, montcopa.org/covid-19

To get tested, people must meet one of the following criteria:

  • People under 65 years old, have a fever of 100.4 degrees or higher and respiratory symptoms (cough or shortness of breath)
  • People 65 years old or older, with a fever of 99.6 degrees or higher and respiratory symptoms
  • First responders, including law enforcement, fire fighters, EMS workers and dispatchers who have been exposed to suspected cases
  • Health care workers, providing direct patient care and who have been exposed to suspected cases, who cannot get tested in their health care facilities

Testing is free.

Related: The latest coronavirus coverage in Montgomery County

The testing is not open to people without symptoms. If you make an appointment and show up with no fever, you will be turned away without a test.

Arkoosh emphasized that resources are very limited. Regardless, testing and personal protection equipment — masks, gowns, face shields — are hard to come by in Montgomery County.

So if you are a healthy person and your symptoms are otherwise mild, officials would rather you stay home and self-isolate as if you do have it, because the testing won't change how you'll be treated.

“We’re operating in a situation of very scarce resources, and we have to allocate those resources on a priority basis,” Arkoosh added. “If you arrive at the site and don’t meet the criteria for testing, you will be disqualified.”

There is no treatment on site, only tests to confirm or deny COVID-19. Large commercial vehicles, motorcycles and pedestrians will not be allowed.

Appointment times are auto-generated, and spots are limited per hour. Instructions will be emailed.

As of Thursday, there are 13 new cases in the county, bringing the total to 55.

Online registration for the testing site opens at 8 p.m. Friday. Phone registration opens at 8 a.m. Saturday, 610-631-3000.

The site will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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CLARIFICATION: The article is updated to clarify criteria for those seeking tests.