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Why is drive-thru testing going down as COVID-19 cases pick up in Ohio?

Where should you go if you're sick?

CLEVELAND — The war on coronavirus continues to change, with drive-thru testing sites quickly waning in Northeast Ohio.

On Thursday, the sign at the Landerbrook drive-thru in Mayfield Heights, run by University Hospitals, read “No Testing Today.” There was also no line at the Cleveland Clinic’s COVID-19 drive-thru site on Euclid Avenue when 3News checked.

Only weeks ago, the lines at them had been long and slow.

“We have basically shut down drive-thru testing,” said Dr. Gary Procop of the Cleveland Clinic. “The flow is slow.”

Apparently, many people had been using them who should not have been.

“Very minimal symptoms,” Procop explained. “Some were probably asymptomatic and there was probably testing of the worry well.”

The results also took long to get from the national reference labs: A spokesman for UH told 3News they took more than 10 days in some cases, and Procop said some took at least a week for the Clinic.

“There’s been requests from Ohio government not to send any more tests to the big reference laboratories because they’re so backed up,” he said.

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The hospitals have since improved turnover times, while reserving drive thru service for certain cases. They include first responders, hospital employees, and those in high-risk age groups who are over 60 and under 3.

“There’s just not enough tests to go around, so the decision was made to utilize the tests that it would benefit the patients that needed it the most,” Procop said.

So, what do you do if you are sick? Procop recommends self-isolating right away. If you need a physician or do not have one, he said to consider telemedicine before going any further.

“You can go to the websites of major medical centers like ours and you can see a doctor through your iPhone, through your iPad et cetera in real time,” he said. “They’ll tell you, ‘Hey you meet these criteria you really should go get a test” and they’ll tell you where to go.”

He recommends people do that before even thinking of entering an emergency room.

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