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Touring a drive through COVID-19 testing site



The nasopharyngeal swab is not pleasant, but it is absolutely necessary to what we are trying to gather from this swabbing operation here…

As part of Governor Gina Raimondo‘s goal to achieve 1000 COVID-19 tests per day, the Rhode Island National Guard has established three remote, drive-through testing centers. Located at the Community College of Rhode Island (CCRI) in Warwick, Rhode Island College (RIC) in Providence and the University of Rhode Island (URI) in South Kingstown, the three centers hope to do a total of 900 tests per day.

The three testing sites are by appointment only. You will need to schedule an appointment through your physician. The sites have English and Spanish translation available.

Colonel Craig Maceri, Commander of the Joint Task Force Guardian, and Colonel William Tuttle, Commander of the 13th Civil Support Team, held a press conference before a tour of the site was opened to the press.

“If you want a referral, please talk to your health care provider. They will provide you with the date and location of your test,” said Colonel Maceri. “Once you arrive at the testing site, you’ll be treated by a National Guard soldier, who will verify that you have an appointment, and will provide further instructions. The process is really quite streamlined and simple, and it should only take a few minutes from start to finish, depending on the volume we have.

“Once your sample is collected,” continued Colonel Maceri, “it will be sent to the laboratory for analysis, and your primary health care provider will provide you with the results within a few days.”

Specialist Kieth Rajotte explained the process at the first booth. When drivers approach, they are instructed to keep their windows rolled up, and all communication is done through the closed windows. When their testing has been approved, the testing kits and documentation are placed under the windshield of the car, and then the patients approach the second tent, where technicians are waiting in full PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) – Tyvek suits with gloves, masks and face shields.

Specialist Keith Rajotte

“The nasopharyngeal swab is not pleasant, but it is absolutely necessary to what we are trying to gather from this swabbing operation here,” said Colonel Tuttle, explaining the sampling that takes place in the second tent. “It’s a long shaft that is pushed up the nasal cavity to almost the back of the throat. It really is a rapid process, it’s done in seconds, it’s a push in, twist, pull out type methodology and then folks are off and heading back home.”

Here’s video of the team that will actually take the sample gearing up with their PPE:

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Here’s the question and answer session conducted by Colonels Maceri and Tuttle:

Colonels Maceri and Tuttle

About the Author

Steve Ahlquist is Uprise RI's co-founder and lead reporter. He has covered human rights, social justice, progressive politics and environmental news for nearly a decade.