Fifty people tested at first drive-through testing at Burton Coliseum

Updated: Mar. 26, 2020 at 7:23 PM CDT
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LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) -If you're sick and high risk -- local government and health care agencies have made COVID-19 testing available.

The first drive-through testing was held from 1 p.m. to 3 pm.

During that time fifty people were swabbed. Calcasieu officials say 45 vehicles were turned away.

The cars began lining up almost immediately when allowed, thirty minutes before testing would begin. But only certain people are eligible-- those with 100.4 fever or more; plus either shortness of breath or cough and at least one high risk condition.

Those ineligible are turned away.

Giant signs with huge block letters gave the instructions and soldiers from the national guard hollered out rules. “Keep your windows up!”

Those in the vehicle must keep their windows rolled up and there's no talking to those on duty. Only two people per vehicle may be tested and they must both be in the front seat.

Earlier, in a briefing, Louisiana National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Marc Prymek explained they are here supporting the effort. He is with the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

"Many of our soldiers are from right here in our community. They live here they work here. They are your neighbors and your friends. The National Guard is called to duty, our guardsmen, to support many missions across the state including current operations, medical support as we're doing here. We have several other testing sites up and running across the state and as those keep evolving we'll keep shifting resources across the state,” he said..

They call it testing, but actually a swab is collected and sent to a national lab, so Dr. John Van Hoose, with the Pathology Lab, says there's a several-day turn around.

"The initial test turnaround time was about three days., but as more and more tests have come in and overwhelmed the system, that's pushed that turnaround time back significantly. A lot of time in excess of a week now. But what will happen will be that the national labs are extending the testing to other facilities that they have as they get more,” he said.

Van Hoose says they hope to eventually be able to do the testing locally.

There were also assurances for the public that the community will get through the pandemic. Residents with questions can call the State Coronavirus Hotline at 211.

The testing will be held again next week, from 9 a-m until 3:30 p-m. Tuesday through Thursday. Cars may start lining up at 8:30 in the morning on those days.

For more on protecting yourself from the coronavirus check out the State Health Department, the governor’s site, the CDC, the World Health Organization. For help managing stress and anxiety click here.

Here is the original news release with details of the local drive-through testing requirements:

Local Health, Government Groups to Open Drive-Through Testing

March 25, 2020 – A group of Health Care and Government agencies will open a drive-through COVID-19 testing site at The Burton Complex in Lake Charles beginning at 1:00 pm tomorrow, Thursday, March 26. The tests are for persons with symptoms who are at high risk for complications. Residents of Allen, Beauregard, Calcasieu, Cameron and Jeff Davis parishes are eligible.

Residents who seek testing should bring a driver’s license or state-issued identification and any insurance information they may have. A doctor’s referral is not needed.

The testing will begin at 1:00 pm and continue until 3:00 pm. Residents may begin lining up at 12:30 pm. Testing will continue the following week on Tuesday, March 31 through Thursday, April 2, from 9:00 am until 3:30 pm each day. Residents may begin lining up at 8:30 am.

Criteria for testing eligibility is as follows:

□ Fever 100.4 or greater


One other symptom below:

□ Shortness of Breath □ Cough


One high risk condition below:

□ Age over 60 years old

□ Lung Disease (COPD, Asthma, Chronic Bronchitis)

□ Heart Disease (NOT including hypertension)

□ Diabetes

□ Immunocompromised (HIV +, Cancer/Chemo within the past 2 years, Dialysis, Transplant recipient, or currently on medications that suppress your immune system).

A maximum of two people per vehicle may be tested and all must sit in the front seat of the vehicle.

Persons not meeting the eligibility requirements will not be tested.

The service is scheduled to be available for two weeks.

A maximum of 130 tests per day can be performed.

No restrooms will be available. No pets allowed.

Residents with questions about the service should call 211.

The Burton Complex is at 7001 Gulf Highway, Lake Charles, LA 70607.

Participating agencies include:

• Region Five ESF-8 Health and Medical Coalition

• Louisiana Office of Public Health

• Avail Hospital

• Lake Charles Memorial Health System

• CHRISTUS Ochsner Health Southwestern Louisiana

• The Pathology Laboratory

• The Louisiana National Guard

• Calcasieu Parish Police Jury

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