Drive-thru Screening for COVID Comes to North Little Rock

By Spencer Watson

Rep. Jamie Scott (right) came to meet with members of the UAMS health care team.

Rep. Jamie Scott (right) came to meet with members of the UAMS health care team.David Robinson

A total of 81 people were screened; 41 were tested.

“I just want to be safe,” said Ed Randall, who was screened.

“I wanted to get tested because my coworker tested positive,” said Iman McFerguson, another drive-thru participant.

They are not alone, said Robert Hopkins Jr., director of the General Internal Medicine Division and a professor of internal medicine and pediatrics in the UAMS College of Medicine.

“Some people just want to make sure they’re not sick,” said Hopkins, who was conducting screenings on site with Barbara McDonald, APRN. “Others come in because they’ve had symptoms. A third group is people who’ve been in contact with somebody known or suspected to have the virus.”

The event allowed residents to drive up and answer a series of questions from their car. If that screening indicated potential exposure, they could drive to another station and be swab tested for the virus by a professional wearing protective equipment. Participants receive their results within two to five days.

The Triage Unit has conducted more than a dozen such drive-thru events across the state, including in Little Rock, Forrest City, Marianna and Texarkana. An event in Elaine days before had 11 visitors screened, and five were tested.

Julianne Chung and Barbara McDonald, APRN, review the screening material.

Julianne Chung and Barbara McDonald, APRN, review the screening material.David Robinson

The unit conducts the drive-thru screenings by request, particularly in communities or locations where residents may not have access to alternative screening options. The intent is to provide a service for people who may otherwise lack access. For many underserved communities, barriers such as lack of dependable transportation might make it difficult to reach a conventional testing site.

National reports have indicated that COVID-19 has disproportionally affected African American and Hispanic communities across the country, including in Arkansas.

The day would see a total 450 positive tests for COVID-19 across all of Arkansas, the second highest single-day total for new cases confirmed statewide. From Friday to Sunday, the weekend saw more than 1,000 new cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to more than 9,000 in Arkansas since the pandemic began.