Louisiana expands drive-thru testing for coronavirus

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Louisiana National Guardsmen with the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the 62nd Weapons of Mass Destruction – Civil Support Team man a COVID-19 mobile testing site at the Alario Center in Westwego, Louisiana, March 21, 2020. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Garrett L. Dipuma)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Drive-thru testing for the coronavirus in the New Orleans area will be extended to a wider range of people as the number of infections and deaths in Louisiana continues to increase, state health officials said Saturday.

Three such federally funded test sites are operating in the state, two in New Orleans and one that opened Saturday in nearby Jefferson Parish. Initially, the tests were accessible only to health care workers and first-responders showing symptoms consistent with the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus.

Beginning Sunday, testing will be offered to anyone with a fever or other symptoms, the New Orleans Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and the New Orleans Health Department said in a news release.

Testing in New Orleans is taking place in the parking lots of the Mahalia Jackson Theater and the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena, and in Jefferson Parish at the Alario Event Center. The New Orleans sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. or until 100 people have been tested at each site, officials said. The Jefferson Parish site will operate from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., with a cap of 250 tests per day.

Louisiana has one of the nation’s highest per capita rates of infection, Gov. John Bel Edwards has said, with New Orleans at the epicenter of the state’s outbreak.

The number of known virus infections in Louisiana had jumped to more than 760 as of Saturday, and at least 20 people have died, according to health department figures. Coronavirus cases have been reported in 35 of the state’s 64 parishes.

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The Associated Press receives support for health and science coverage from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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