- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 25, 2020

D.C. Department of Health officials are working with local hospitals to open up drive-thru testing sites across the city to increase testing capacity of the novel coronavirus.

Mayor Muriel Bowser said the city has 78 intensive care units and 260 ventilators available and has earmarked $15 million for additional ventilators and medical supplies.

The city government plans to open its own testing site at United Medical Center campus in the coming days, said Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt, director of the D.C. Department of Health.

Children’s National Hospital has already opened up a drive-thru testing facility for people younger than 22 who have been referred by a doctor.

Kaiser Permanente has a drive-thru testing site for their members on Capitol Hill and five other sites in the region.

Dr. Nesbitt announced that George Washington University Hospital is working on opening a drive-thru testing site in the coming days to test non-emergent individuals who are presenting symptoms of COVID-19, which will also require a doctor’s referral.

Sibley Memorial Hospital will open a testing site this week, as well.

Dr. Nesbitt said that MedStar offers tele-health capabilities, which can refer people to testing.

Dr. Jennifer Smith, director of the District’s Public Health Lab, said the lab has significantly increased its testing capability since two weeks ago.

Two weeks ago, the lab was only able to test 15 samples, today it can test 150, and she expects by next week their capacity will increase to 500 tests.

However, she said the lab is isn’t at full capacity and is only testing about 13 samples a day because doctors are using commercial labs.

“We can do more and we want to do more,” Dr. Smith said.

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