PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Drive-through testing for COVID-19 will begin Tuesday morning by appointment only on three college campuses, with the goal to test 1,000 people per day by mid-week to help better understand where the virus is, and where it might be spreading.
The Rhode Island National Guard began setting up three mobile testing locations over the weekend at Rhode Island College in Providence, the Community College of Rhode Island in Warwick and the University of Rhode Island in South Kingstown.
It was an ominous site at CCRI, with a National Guard vehicle in the distance and a trail of cones leading up to a tent
An electronic sign usually used for detours and other traffic issues instead included messages to “Press ID on drivers side window.”
That was followed by instructions to “Remain in vehicle” and “Keep windows rolled up.”
Similar operations were set up at RIC and URI as the state gears up to dramatically increase daily testing.
During Monday’s daily COVID-19 briefing, Governor Gina Raimondo and Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott said more testing will no doubt lead to more confirmed cases.
Alexander-Scott said that will allow the state to better pinpoint the response to the disease that’s blamed for four deaths in the R.I. so far.
“I’m hoping to say, by the middle of this week, we’re at a thousand [tests] per day,” Raimondo said.
Raimondo followed that goal with a stern warning for anyone who tries to drive up to a site, unannounced.
“Do not show up without an appointment to one of these testing centers,” Raimondo said. “You will not recieve a test. You will waste your time. You will waste the time of people testing. And you will slow up the whole system.”
The testing will bring hundreds of potentially infected people through each community where the sites are located.
But Alexander-Scott said neighbors should feel safe since no one is getting out of their vehicle.
“We also have people in personal protective equipment who are there,” Alexander-Scott said. “It’s a very well run and safe process.”
According to RIC President Frank Sanchez, the site on the campus’s parking lot B will be self-contained with testing equipment, portable restrooms and other supplies for approximately 50 medical and security personnel.
Site staff members will use showers in the RIC Recreation Center, according to Sanchez.
“I want to emphasize that personnel from the testing site will not be interacting with people or campus facilities outside the designated areas,” Sanchez said.
Members of RIC’s “campus community should not be entering any spaces being utilized by testing site personnel,” Sanchez said.