ChristianaCare drive-through COVID-19 test

Healthcare workers with ChristianaCare direct visitors at a drive-through COVID-19 clinic in Wilmington Friday morning

They started to line up in their vehicles well before a four-hour window for free, drive-through testing for coronavirus Friday morning at the Wilmington Riverfront.

Some wore masks. Some vehicles had out-of-state plates.

A crew of nurses and other healthcare professionals with ChristianaCare quickly processed the visitors. They were screened first for any possible COVID-19 symptoms. 

Those that experienced symptoms had their noses swabbed. The samples are being sent to a private lab, and results will be known within a few days.

ChristianaCare reported that 536 tests were administered during the clinic.

A drive-up flu clinic for about 8,000 of the healthcare system's employees last fall provided the model for the clinic's operations.

"The idea today is to take what we know we can accomplish in a drive-through, which is exactly what we also did with our flu blitz at our hospital, and we did that specifically for events like this,"  ChristianaCare Director of Clinical Operations for Trauma at the Wilmington and Christiana campuses Joan Pirrung said.

According to ChristianaCare Senior Vice President of Clinical Essential Services Terri Corbo, visitors were asked first whether they had any flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, cough, sore through or difficulty breathing. The test was not offered to those who were not feeling ill.

Worry and nervousness seemed to be the most common feelings among the early patients.

"What they're saying is, 'we know it's in the community, we know that it spreads and it's contagious. I'm taking the precautions that I know I can as a member of the community but I'm still worried,'" Corbo said. "Yes, it's worry but it's not panic."

The workers protected themselves with gloves, gowns, goggles and masks. The hand sanitizer station was busy.

Nurse Theresa Mead said although she was around sick people, she still felt safe.

"As nurses, we're very good about washing our hands and taking precautions and I feel okay about it," Mead said.

"I'm doing the best I can for my community."

Reporter - Anchor

Mark Fowser is a veteran journalist in Delaware.