ROCKFORD — Hundreds of patients visited the city’s new drive-thru COVID-19 testing center Friday at the University of Illinois College of Medicine.


The triage, testing and transfer site, 1601 Parkview Ave., is a collaborative effort involving the National Guard, Illinois Department of Public Health, Winnebago County Emergency Operations Center and the UIC Health Sciences Campus-Rockford.


Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19, including fever, cough and shortness of breath, can go to the testing center to determine whether they need a COVID-19 test — administered free of charge — self-quarantine, a medical follow-up or an immediate transfer to a hospital. About 500 patients a day can be evaluated.


On Friday, 364 people — arriving inside about 270 vehicles — were administered a COVID-19 test, said Rob Martin, incident commander at the test center.


"Lots of people doubled up," Martin said. "That helps because we're getting more numbers through and traffic isn't such an issue."


Martin said there were no significant problems on the first day of testing at the Rockford facility. He encourages patients who visit the site in the days ahead to be sitting in their vehicles near a functioning window so that the test can be administered quickly. The testing center will be open daily until further notice.


"We’re looking forward to a good day tomorrow and to continue on," Martin said. "I have no idea how long we’ll run yet. We’re just driving on, seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m."


The COVID-19 test that’s offered on site involves a self-nasal swab, which officials say is most effective in patients with symptoms. The test does not detect whether someone previously had COVID-19. Patients must have symptoms to be tested.



Patients going to the test site need to know:


• Individuals must arrive and remain inside the vehicle for testing at the site.


• Testing is limited to those who have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath).


• There are no restrooms available for patients.


• Enter the site in a vehicle at the Parkview Avenue entrance to the campus from the south as directed by signage. Vehicles must make a right turn to enter the campus. Left turns will not be allowed.


• Follow signs and directions from the volunteers at the site.


Each patient will be screened and evaluated for COVID-19 testing. There is no cost to the patient.


For questions about COVID-19, call:


• The COVID-19 Hotline at 1-815-319-6705 (available Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)


• The Illinois Department of Public Health hotline at 1-800-889-3931


For more information, visit the Winnebago County Health Department website — wchd.org — or follow the health department on Facebook and Twitter: @WinnCoHealth.


Isaac Guerrero: iguerrero@rrstar.com; @isaac_rrs