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Rochester gets drive-up coronavirus testing, but capacity still limited

Dr. Bridgette Wiefling, Rochester Regional Health's senior vice president of primary care speaks at a news conference Monday announcing the health care system's drive-up coronavirus testing system.

Rochester Regional Health opened a drive-up coronavirus testing site at the urgent care facility on its general hospital campus on Monday.

"It's a pretty efficient way of providing care -- a little bit unique, obviously, but these times are really requiring innovation," said Dr. Bridgette Wiefling, Rochester Regional’s senior vice president of primary care.

The health care company was also taking samples for testing at five other sites without drive-up service in Rochester, Henrietta and Greece.

Still, the local testing capacity is far below what’s needed to test everyone who would like to be evaluated, Wiefling said.

“That’s why it’s really important that we are cautious about who we are testing,” she said.

Both Rochester Regional and the University of Rochester Medical Center, which began testing suspected COVID-19 samples Monday, said people should not simply show up at urgent care clinics expecting to be tested.

When Rochester Regional began offering limited testing on Saturday, medical director Dr. Robert Mayo said anyone who arrived at a clinic requesting testing “will be advised to return home.”

Doctors said people who are concerned that they have had contact with someone carrying the coronavirus or have symptoms of COVID-19 should make a phone call so they can be directed to the best location for testing or treatment.

Credit Max Schulte / WXXI News
Cars queue for drive-up testing at Rochester Regional Health on Tuesday

Rochester Regional suggested that people call their primary care doctor or a telehealth triage line at 585-922-2213. The Monroe County health department also has a coronavirus hotline for the public at 585-753-5555.

Health officials said calling ahead will prevent people who are sick from spreading germs and stop people who are healthy but worried from being exposed to people who are sick.

Wiefling said Rochester Regional had run over 200 coronavirus tests since its lab began accepting samples on Saturday.

Delays in getting test results had been hampering local efforts to track the spread of COVID-19.

Until this weekend, the nearest lab testing for the coronavirus was in Buffalo, which had only enough materials to run 450 tests. Local testing availability increases the number of people who can be diagnosed and decreases some of the delay in getting results, doctors said.

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