Pop-up testing sites designed specifically for asymptomatic shoppers, Health Department says

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — After a couple of hiccups over the weekend at pop-up testing sites across the state, the Rhode Island Department of Health tells 12 News it’s fully prepared to meet the needs of all Rhode Islanders.

The free rapid testing began at local shopping centers on Saturday, and as word got out about the state’s effort to test more Rhode Islanders, the sites were quickly overwhelmed.

Joseph Wendelken, a spokesperson for the Health Department, called the increased demand for testing a good thing. He said the sites are designed to provide additional testing options for people who are already out running errands.

“They’re already going to be grocery shopping or at the mall, so we want to be there and have this testing available for people,” he explained.

Right now, there are three pop-up testing sites open:

  • Chapel View Shopping Center, Sockanosset Cross Road, Cranston: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Downtown Providence Storefront, 79 Dorrance St, Providence: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Warwick Mall, 400 Bald Hill Road, Warwick: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The testing sites that opened at two Stop and Shop locations over the weekend have since closed and will likely remain closed, according to Wendelken.

The Warwick Mall site was busy after opening this past weekend. Long lines stretched throughout the mall corridor as many shoppers waited to get tested.

Wendelken said Rhode Islanders should expect longer wait times at pop-up testing sites because people can go there without making an appointment.

“The model was always, if people are going to be at the mall already, then here’s a testing option for them,” he said.

Wendelken said the state has plenty of locations for those looking for a specific time to get tested, noting the pop-up sites aren’t for anyone who is symptomatic.

“If someone is experiencing symptoms, they should approach things differently,” he said. “They should not be going to the mall, or another site where there are lots of people. This is really specifically for asymptomatic people.”

Wendelken said more than 600 people were tested at the mall this past weekend. For those who don’t want to wait in line, he suggested scheduling an appointment through the state’s online portal.

Anyone interested in keeping an eye on the addition of future pop-up testing sites can do so on the Health Department’s website.

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