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Drive-thru coronavirus testing ending in New Orleans, JP site will stay

Orleans Parish residents still have access to free testing.

NEW ORLEANS — The drive-up Coronavirus testing site at the University of New Orleans will now close after testing is completed on Friday.

City officials confirmed the program will move to other parishes now ramping up their testing.

The city is working with local healthcare providers to stand up mobile test sites in communities with high numbers of Coronavirus cases and deaths.    

“We are committed and will continue to ensure that testing is available to the communities that are hardest hit. To our most vulnerable communities and our communities of color,” New Orleans Health Director Dr. Jennifer Avegno said.

About 13,000 people were tested for COVID-19 at the New Orleans drive up sites. That’s 6% of the city’s population.

“This program allowed us to offer easy and accessible options for our residents to get tested while also taking the strain off of hospitals and clinics during the critical early days of the pandemic,” Homeland Security Director Collin Arnold said. “I am really proud that New Orleans was able to be one of a handful of cities that ran this federally supported pilot program also with our partners at the state of Louisiana.”

Orleans Parish residents still have access to free testing.

In Jefferson Parish, the drive-thru testing site at the Alario Center in Westwego will remain open for all metro area residents.

Thursday, it was closed because of a delay in a shipment of new tests and supplies. The site will reopen Friday.

JP President Cynthia Lee Sheng said she is determined to keep it open as long as she can.

“We get conflicting information every day as to the level of how much this is going to still be supported, but certainly from the Jefferson Parish side, the local side, we’re taking the position that as long as the supplies are coming to us, we’re going to keep taking the tests,” Lee Sheng said.

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Lee Sheng added testing remains a critical component when fighting this disease.

“We are definitely a hot-spot, still, so I’m hoping that our drive through site continues to be supported,” Lee Sheng said. “I’m hoping the federal government is looking at that and where this virus still lives.”

The federal government is now ending support for some of the Coronavirus testing sites across the country.

No word yet if any other sites in Louisiana, besides the one at UNO are on the list to close.

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