Mount Rogers Health District to offer appointments for ongoing drive-thru COVID-19 testing starting Monday amid increase in local cases


FILE – In this Saturday, May 2, 2020 file photo community volunteer checks for appointments and directs cars lining up for coronavirus tests in the Woodland Hills section of Los Angeles. The city of Los Angeles is providing free coronavirus tests to anyone who wants one regardless of whether they have symptoms. The offer reflects a parting with state guidelines after the mayor partnered with a startup testing company. The test the city is offering is easier to administer and doesn’t require the scarce supplies that have created bottlenecks for expanded testing across California. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel,File)

MARION, Va. (WFXR) — As local coronavirus cases steadily increase, health departments across the Mount Rogers Health District — including the City of Galax and Carroll and Wythe counties — will offer appointments for drive-thru COVID-19 testing three days a week starting Monday.

In order to be approved for a testing appointment, the Mount Rogers Health District says patients are required to call in advance in order to set up a screening interview. Those who pass the interview will receive an appointment time, a testing number, and/or an emailed authorization letter, officials say.

When you head to your local testing site for your appointment, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) says you have to remain in your vehicle, wear a face covering, and — if you don’t have access to email — bring a valid form of identification.

Health officials say testing will be offered at the following locations on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays starting Monday, May 18:

  • Bristol City Health Department at 205 Piedmont Avenue in Bristol. To be screened for testing at the Bristol site, call (276) 642-7335.
  • Carroll County Health Department at 605-15 Pine Street in Hillsville. To be screened for testing at the Carroll County site, call (276) 730-3180.
  • Galax City Health Department at 502 S Main Street in Galax. To be screened for testing at the Galax site, call (276) 236-6127.
  • Smyth County Health Department at 201 Francis Marion Lane in Marion. To be screened for testing at the Smyth County site, call (276) 781-7460.
  • Washington County Health Department at 15068 Lee Highway in Bristol. To be screened for testing at the Washington County site, call (276) 676-5604.
  • Wythe County Health Department at 290 South 6th Street in Wytheville. To be screened for testing at the Wythe County site, call (276) 228-5507.

“Testing is important epidemiologically and helps us determine the prevalence of disease in our community,” says Dr. Karen Shelton, director of the Mount Rogers Health District. “As we continue to test, we expect to have more positive cases.”

“In the vast majority of cases, testing does not inform recommendations for your medical care,” Dr. Shelton continues. “The best protection for each of us comes from taking personal precautions, including staying at home, practicing good hygiene and social distancing. That’s how you stay well, and how you protect those around you today, your family and friends, and our communities.”

Between Sunday, May 10 and Sunday, May 17, the number of cases reported by VDH went from 45 to 80 in Galax, from 33 to 48 in Carroll County, from 12 to 21 in Grayson County, and from 13 to 16 in Wythe County.

According to Breanne Forbes Hubbard, the Population Health Manager for the Mount Rogers Health District, Dr. Shelton addressed this steady increase in COVID-19 cases around the greater Galax community — including Carroll County and the Grayson-Twin County area — earlier this week.

Forbes Hubbard shared a copy of Dr. Shelton’s statement via email.

“We attribute this to several large families who have had COVID cases. CDC has documented that household transmission rates are generally very high. Many of these families have individuals who work in many businesses, and that has also had an effect on the spread of disease. There has not been much social distancing going on in the community previous to now.

We have been very diligent in case investigation and contact tracing every individual, including working with them on isolation and quarantine agreements.  

We have worked with every business that has been affected to promote safety for the workers in the business.  

We have increased our testing greatly in this area, having held 4 large testing sites in the last 2 weeks, which has also contributed to an increase in documented positive cases.  

We have worked with county and city officials on messaging for the communities.”

Dr. Karen Shelton, director of the Mount Rogers Health District

As of Sunday, May 17, VDH has reported 38 cases associated with two outbreaks from congregate settings, two outbreaks from healthcare settings, and two outbreaks from long-term care facilities in the Mount Rogers Health District. In addition, according to VDH’s Sunday COVID-19 tally, there have been 232 total cases, 17 hospitalizations, and four deaths related to the virus in the Mount Rogers Health District.

However, on Wednesday, May 13, the Mount Rogers Health District released an update on the district’s coronavirus cases. In Wednesday’s report, health officials confirmed 90 recoveries in the district, including 14 in Galax, 12 in Wythe County, 11 in Carroll County, and two in Grayson County.

Dr. Shelton says that everyone needs to do their part and act in a socially responsible manner in order to stop the spread of the coronavirus. She recommended the following behaviors in her statement:

  • Wear a face cloth covering in public.
  • Wash hands with soap and water frequently, and if soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Socially distance yourself in public and give people at least six feet of space.
  • Stay home if you are sick.

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