NORFOLK, Va. - The Virginia Department of Health is opening a new Community Testing Center (CTC) at Military Circle Mall to meet the high demand for COVID tests.
The clinic opens on Jan. 10 and will offer free Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing for COVID-19.
“As we face a national shortage of rapid COIVD-19 tests, this expanded capability to use PCR testing will be critical for residents looking for free, reliable testing if they have been exposed to someone ill or may be feeling the symptoms of COVID,” notes Dr. Parham Jaberi, chief deputy commissioner for VDH.
The clinic is open Saturday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. by appointment only.
The new CTC comes as the VDH says Virginia hospitals were pleading with the organization to offer more testing options.
This is so people would stop overwhelming hospitals by using emergency rooms as a way to get tested.
"Folks were seeking testing where they could get it," said Suzie Trotter, COVID-19 testing team manager for VDH. "And quite a few of the people in our emergency rooms were asymptomatic and not in distress. That, of course, has a major impact on our hospital system. So, we really needed to look at an alternative and building up testing capacity so the public would leave the hospitals ... and be able to get testing elsewhere."
The new clinic will be held outdoors rather than inside Military Circle Mall.
Instead of going into building, those with appointments will go into a heated tent in the parking lot.
This is to cut transmission between people who are getting tested and those attending the clinic to receive their vaccines.
While the CTC is outside, it is not a drive-thru.
VDH says they will have people at the CTC to help those who may have difficulty making an appointment or don't have internet access.
Inside of the building, VDH will continue offering COVID-19 vaccines and booster shots.
VDH hopes that by separating the two clinics, they will reduce the rate of possible COVID exposure.
"By having the appointments, it does help limit transmission," said Trotter. "You know what time to come, you park, you get to the front door, you go into the tent and get your specimen taken, and you're out in a few minutes. So the exposure limitation has been remedied by having these appointments."
Click here to schedule an appointment. NOTE: The VDH said if Military Circle Mall is not an option when you try here, it means site appointments are full at the time you tried.