Sentara suspends its drive-thru coronavirus testing


HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — In a classic case of supply and demand, Sentara announced Wednesday that it is temporarily closing all of its drive-thru COVID-19 screening locations because they are running low on tests.

The supply of coronavirus test was low, the demand for it was high, so the supply of tests ran out for public distribution.

Sentara says it knew it would run out, just not when.

The hospital group began drive-thru screening and testing Monday. Since then, Sentara tells WAVY News 10 that 1,700 people were screened and 786 qualified for a coronavirus test. Tests are taking between two to five days to get results.

The three testing locations, in Williamsburg, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, closed at 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Sentara says it can still test high-risk patients at their hospitals and is working with state and federal officials to get more testing supplies.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19, contact your physician or the Sentara COVID-19 Call Center (1-833-945-2395) first.

Before you leave your home, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you have 2 of these 3 symptoms: Fever (100.4 degrees or higher), cough, shortness of breath
  • In the last month, have you been in contact with someone who was confirmed or suspected to have COVID-19 OR have you traveled internationally or to an area with a known COVID-19 outbreak? (Check the latest high-risk travel areas here)

IF NO: Please stay home. Continue to follow the CDC recommended prevention methods and monitor for a change in symptoms.

IF YES: If you are BELOW age 60 and have no other health issues, you should stay home and self-quarantine for 14 days.

First thing Wednesday morning, 10 On Your Side showed up at Sentara Edinburgh in Chesapeake.

There weren’t a lot of vehicles, and 10 On Your Side was quickly told “no comment” on the test supply. We were directed to Sentara Princess Anne Hospital where we found long lines for screening, as well as hospital President Paul Gaden.

“At this time we are going to have to close all three of our locations at 2 p.m. due to lack of testing supplies,” Gaden said.

Gaden said the coronavirus tests running out was not a failure of government at work.

“No, sir. It’s across the entire country. All systems are working with their local health departments as well as federal authorities to obtain additional testing supplies. It really comes down to a supply and demand challenge,” Gaden said.

Everyone in line was served — and the line backed up a long way — but around 2 p.m., all screening and testing came to a halt.

“We knew we would work through our supply chain. The manufacturers are stressed with the demand across the entire country, even worldwide. The demand for this, we did not know whether it would be 2 days or 4 or 5 weeks (before we ran out of the tests),” Gaden said.

10 On Your Side asked what is being done to get more tests, as well as how they’re planning to get a more accurate count on who has coronavirus and who doesn’t.

“Right now, we continue to work with health departments and federal authorities to obtain the adequate supplies for our community, for our patients, as well as health care providers,” Gaden said.

We asked Gaden to sum up the current status of coronavirus testing in Hampton Roads,

“It’s slow, and the growth and the spread of this virus is, so testing was one of the tools we used. At this point, because we can’t do the drive-through testing due to shortage of supply, we urge our citizenship to do social distancing,” he said.

Gaden knows there is frustration — he sees it.

“I have seen frustration in our lines at the supermarket, other retailers, around the community. I would like everyone to be kind to our fellow man or woman next to us, and let’s just show compassion to everyone,” he said.

Gaden also urges people to remain calm.

“I have a family at home. I worry about my family. I worry about employees we have at this facility. I worry about patients. I worry about our community, but I know we are doing everything we can,” he said.

Coronavirus is also in its infancy, and it’s a fluid situation that’s constantly changing.

“We are watching what happened in China and learning from that, so we are watching and learning and being nimble, and making changes on daily, if not on an hourly, basis,” he said.

You can check out the coronavirus tracking map here.

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