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UAMS expanding COVID-19 screening center, more than 400 screened so far

What used to be a UAMS employee parking garage, is quickly turning into a second drive-thru coronavirus screening center.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — UAMS is expanding its drive-thru COVID-19 screening center after seeing hundreds of patients over the weekend.

What used to be a UAMS employee parking garage, is quickly turning into a second drive-thru coronavirus screening center.

"We're expanding the testing center to meet the needs of the volume of patients coming through," Dr. Robert Hopkins said.

It includes built-in handwashing sinks for healthcare workers.

"Most of the time have a minimum of two or four or five physicians that are doing the screening with people as they come through," Dr. Hopkins said.

Since UAMS opened the first drive-thru Friday afternoon, at least 445 patients have come to get screened for COVID-19. Close to 200 passed through on Monday alone.

"Most of the patients we've seen have not been terribly ill, which is good," Dr. Hopkins said.

Dr. Robert Hopkins said not every single person who drives through is being tested for the virus.

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"If we swabbed everyone, we would have overwhelmed our testing capacity in the first three hours," he said.

Patients are asked a series of screening questions while in their car, along with their temperature. 

"[Asking] what their symptoms are…when their symptoms started, and have they been exposed to anyone with the coronavirus," he said.

People who are at increased risk of COVID-19 are more likely to be swabbed.

"We're also screening for influenza and strep," Dr. Hopkins said.

You do not need to be a patient at UAMS to get screened. Although you can drive up, UAMS is encouraging people to go online to UAMS HealthNow first. Or call the hotline at (800) 632-4502

You can also call your doctor to see if you may be eligible for swabbing.

"I cannot guarantee they will be tested. We still have limited testing availability for our whole state as well as the whole country," Dr. Hopkins said.

Depending on how at-risk you are, UAMS sends those swabs to both the health department and private labs to be tested.

"The testing often takes us between 24 to 72 hours to get it back for the coronavirus. But we've detected also flu and RSV. Both of which are viruses we know are circulating," he said.

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The screening center is open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

Dr. Hopkins could not say if anyone tested positive for COVID-19 at the testing center, but people did test positive for flu and RSV.

He also encourages people to stay home if you are experiencing flu or cold-like symptoms unless your symptoms are severe.