IDF to set up drive-thru coronavirus testing stations

The drive-thru initiative will increase the number of those tested.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Home Front Command is preparing to train soldiers to test Israel’s population for coronavirus in an effort to identify those who are ill more quickly in order to contain the pandemic.

The idea is to have drive-thru stations set up throughout the country, where people can come in their cars, get their noses and mouths swiped and leave.

Thousands can theoretically be examined this way instead of the hundreds of suspected cases that are currently being checked by Magen David Adom (MDA) first-responders in their homes.

MDA medical director Refael Strugo told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday that the organization would like to roll out the drive-thru initiative, but that manpower would be one of the problems. The IDF plan would solve that issue immediately.

Another potential issue is that there are currently only five hospital laboratories that are being used to test the samples, and none are working 24/7 exclusively on suspected coronavirus cases. This number would have to rise in order to handle the exponential increase in tests once the drive-thrus are set up.

In the United States, both public and private institutions have already begun running tests this way. New York, which has been the hardest-hit state so far, with 950 cases of infection, set up its first drive-through location Friday.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo expressed satisfaction on Monday with the way it was running. He’s aiming to establish more of them quickly.

“We want to replicate that because it’s just smart,” Cuomo said. “The worst thing is a person walking into an emergency room: If you’re positive, you infect other people. If you are negative, you may get infected by walking into the emergency room,” Cuomo said. “So this is the best way to test someone.”

All agree that once more people are tested, it is inevitable that more coronavirus cases will be discovered.

In order to leave the hospitals free to take care of those who are seriously ill, the Home Front Command will open two hotels on Tuesday as quarantine facilities for victims with only light symptoms of the disease. This will also reduce the chances that their families will get infected.

The Dan Panorama in Tel Aviv and the Dan Hotel in Jerusalem can hold up to 2,000 people each if necessary. One more in the north of the country and another in the south with equal capacity will open in the coming days.

Some 2,000 Home Front reservists are in the midst of being called up to help with this initiative.