NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - When drive-thru testing sites were established in New Orleans to test for COVID-19, healthcare workers and first responders were the first to get tested. But a week after those frontline workers were tested, their results are still outstanding.
Exact numbers on how many tests are outstanding are not known at this time, but the testing sites were set up to test approximately 250 people per day, per site. FOX 8 has heard from numerous people who were tested and are still waiting to hear whether or not they had the coronavirus, known as COVID-19.
A nurse at a New Orleans hospital spoke to FOX 8 but did not want to be identified, saying she developed a cough and had occasional chest pain and shortness of breath. She decided to go get tested at the drive-thru site in the parking lot of the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts.
“The process was actually smooth, they screen you on the entrance to the site and ask you symptoms and confirm that you had a temperature,” she said. “The process was actually smooth and I was informed that test results are going to take 3-5 days.”
The paperwork she was given said she would receive a phone call from an 833-phone number in 3-5 days. But approaching day 7 and still unable to return to work, she still doesn’t know if she had COVID-19.
“I tried to call that number and they said it was only an outbound number and if you didn’t receive any result to try and call our local health department I tried calling them with no answers,” she said.
She said the feeling of not knowing is difficult.
FOX 8 reached out to the City of New Orleans for an update on the testing situation at the drive-thru sites. The city was selected to have two sites as a part of a federal pilot program.
A City Hall Spokesperson released the following statement:
“Initially, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who led the program, agreed to administer a call center to communicate test results to the patients tested at the New Orleans sites and similar sites around the country. Upon hearing concerns from residents who had not yet received their test results over the phone, the New Orleans Health Department has made the decision to staff a local call center to communicate directly with individuals tested. We are working as quickly as possible to receive these results and hope to start making calls as early as tomorrow [Saturday, March 28].”