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Community-based COVID-19 testing offered in Portsmouth

The Portsmouth Health Department said the drive-thru testing is available to anyone in the city who is 16 or older. You don't have to have coronavirus symptoms.

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Community-based testing for COVID-19 is one of the few times when almost anyone can get tested for the disease, and the Portsmouth Health Department began offering it to people Friday morning.

Between Friday, May 22 and Saturday, May 23, health officials hoped to test at least 400 people.

The health department made the testing available to anyone who lives in Portsmouth and who is 16 or older. People don't have to have symptoms to be tested, but they do need to register by calling 757-393-8585.

After registering, they head to the screening location in the parking lot of Tidewater Community College on Campus Drive. Testing begins at 10 a.m. each day.

"We're going to do it in a drive-thru format to make it more convenient for those who don't feel comfortable seeking outpatient testing," said Portsmouth Health Director Dr. Lauren James.

The event is part of a statewide effort to do more community-based testing in an effort to better control the virus.

On Friday Jeanette, a Portsmouth resident, got tested. 

"I feel good," said Jeanette. "It’s something I wanted to get done. I'd rather know than not know."

Another resident, Karen Savage, echoed that sentiment. The health care worker waited in line for two hours to get tested.

"It’s a relief now. There was a little anxiety just waiting," said Savage. 

"While people who have symptoms are a priority, everyone is welcome as long as tests are available," said Governor Ralph Northam during his regular coronavirus update Wednesday. 

James admits the event could not have happened even a month ago because testing supplies were not that widely available. 

"The Governor and Health Commissioner, they have basically made so much progress and supplies the health districts with additional resources."

As of Wednesday, Portsmouth had made 2,549 testing encounters, and 241 residents have tested positive since the pandemic began. 

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