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Coronavirus: Drive-thru testing site opens in Lakeland


POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – The city with Polk County’s largest known number of coronavirus cases is getting its first drive-thru testing site.

Lakeland Regional Health will be able to take 75 COVID-19 samples per day beginning Monday, April 20th at the RP Funding Center, through a partnership with the City of Lakeland.

The samples will be taken through appointment only. Patients must get referred by their doctor.

“That physician then could give a prescription or an order with our scheduling team to set up for an appointment to drive thru and get rapidly tested,” said Dr. Hal Escowitz, Chief Quality Officer and Chief Medical Informatics Officer at Lakeland Regional Health.

Patients can also get a doctor’s order through Lakeland Regional Health’s new COVID-19 telehealth service. You can access the site by clicking here.

Patients must meet certain criteria including showing symptoms, being in close contact with a known COVID-19 patient or being high risk or living with someone who is high risk.

The hospital’s agreement with Quest Diagnostics allows for 75 tests per day, but the service could be expanded if needed.

“Quest has assured us that the turnaround time would be in the five to six-day range, so not the 10 (day) to two-week turnaround you’ve been hearing at some other drive-thru testing sites,” said Dr. Escowitz.

Samples are sent to Quest Diagnostics headquarters in Virginia for processing. Results have been coming back closer to two to four days, according to Dr. Escowitz.

Lakeland Regional Health will not charge patients for the tests. However, Quest Diagnostics may bill insurance companies, which will likely cover 100% of the cost, according to Dr. Escowitz. Patients without insurance may be billed by Quest Diagnostics.

“People definitely are looking for testing sites,” said Kevin Cook, the City of Lakeland’s director of communications.

Cook said communications on the city’s social media pages have skyrocketed, with many people eager for more testing.

“We know that in order to get back to what it was like before COVID-19, that it’s definite that we need more testing,” said Cook.

As of Friday morning, Lakeland had 104 cases of coronavirus. Winter Haven has the county’s second most number of cases at 53.

Three hundred and eleven people have tested positive for coronavirus in Polk County, as of Friday morning.

Answers to more frequently asked questions regarding the drive-thru testing sites can be found on the Lakeland Regional Health website.


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