Coronavirus testing started at noon today at Walmart in East Syracuse

In April 20, 2020

East Syracuse, N.Y. – By Tim Knauss (Syracuse.com) — Walmart and Quest Diagnostics will begin testing people for coronavirus today at a drive-through operation in the Walmart parking lot in East Syracuse. Despite no announcement of the opening, at least three dozen people have signed up for an appointment to get tested today, a Walmart representative said.

The test site will be open noon to 4 p.m. today and can accommodate up to 40 people today. After today, the site will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. seven days a week and can conduct up to 150 tests a day.

People must make an appointment on the Quest website to get tested. The tests are open to anyone whose symptoms meet federal guidelines for testing, as well as healthcare workers and first responders without symptoms.

The rollout of the test site this week was quiet. Officials from both companies have thus far declined to offer details. That’s in part because Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon requested that the test site focus on nursing home workers and other targeted employees first.

Company officials said they are cooperating with that request. But Quest is also making appointments for the general public, starting today.

Patients who sign up on the Quest site will answer screening questions to determine if they meet federal guidelines for coronavirus testing. The form asks about symptoms such as fever and cough, risk factors such as diabetes or high blood pressure, and whether the person has had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 patient.

Anyone who meets the CDC criteria is allowed to schedule a test. Walk-ups are not allowed. Only people 18 or older will be tested, according to the website.

After making an appointment, patients bring a copy of their confirmation to the test site, either printed out or on their phone. The site is at the western edge of the Walmart parking lot, 6438 Basile Rowe.

Patients remain in their cars. After a staff person verifies ID and eligibility for testing, the patient collects a nasal mucous sample themselves while being observed by a pharmacist. After swabbing their nose, the patient places the swab in a sealed container and hands it off for delivery to a Quest lab.

Results are delivered by Quest.

The start of testing in East Syracuse was delayed after McMahon asked for a conference call this week with Quest and Walmart to ensure coordination with the county’s efforts to fight coronavirus. McMahon questioned whether more testing was needed in the Syracuse area, and urged the companies to give priority to nursing home employees and other healthcare workers. The companies are cooperating, he said.

Other sites in Onondaga County continue to provide COVID-19 testing, including the Syracuse Community Health Center, local hospitals, and some primary care providers.