In Flatbush, a landmarked Sears, Roebuck store that was still operating before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis has been turned into a drive-thru coronavirus testing site. The entrance to the testing site, which consists of multiple white tents in the Sears parking lot is on Bedford Avenue.
Opened this past Friday, the drive-thru testing site is intended to address a higher incidence of coronavirus cases in lower income neighborhoods based on the first few weeks of data. Another testing site has also opened at Aqueduct Racetrack near JFK Airport.
You have to have an appointment to get a test, which you can get by calling the COVIVD-19 hotline at 888-364-3065. You have to report your symptoms and if you fall into what is considered the “highest risk population,” meaning you’ve been in contact with a positive case, have symptoms, or are a front line worker, you’ll be given an appointment. According to the New York State Department of Health website, having drive-through testing sites, “reduce density and the potential for spread by keeping people who are sick or at risk of having contracted coronavirus out of healthcare facilities where they could infect other people.” The test results are done by the company Bioreference, and you can get your results by phone call, text, or through the lab company’s online patient portal.
There were some hiccups in the first days of operation of the Flatbush coronavirus testing site, however. Heavy rains on Monday forced the temporary closure of the site. There appeared to be significant confusion whether the site could accommodate people on foot with appointment, or not. Turns out, you can only get tested if you arrive in a vehicle, though that was apparently not made clear when people made their appointments. As a result, some of those people were told to take an Uber, leading to concerns that the for-hire drivers would be potentially exposed to the virus.
On our visit on both Monday and Tuesday, it was obvious that security was a paramount presence. State trooper vehicles were stationed not only at the entrance, screening arrivals, but also throughout the parking lot. A digital road sign said “KEEP WINDOWS CLOSED.” If anybody was lingering by the entrance, a trooper would approach holding a sign in all caps that read “IF YOU DON’T HAVE AN APPOINTMENT FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH GO HOME AND CALL 888-364-3065.”
Once you are allowed into the parking lot, you follow a series of orange construction cones that denote the waiting line, leading into the white tents. You never leave your car, but get tested by leaning out of the window. Here are a few more additional photographs of the testing site: