Photos show one of the first drive-thru coronavirus testing stations in the US, where people with a doctor's note get tested free

Brad McGinley Photography/Getty Images

On Wednesday, Denver became one of the first cities in the US to implement drive-thru coronavirus testing free to patients with a doctor’s note. The first drive-thru testing facility opened in Seattle earlier in the week.

The new sites allow medical workers to safely test patients with virus symptoms who have recently travelled to high-risk areas or have been in close contact with people who tested positive.

The efforts aim to address the delays faced by people trying to get tested as US coronavirus testing capacity slowly ramps up.

Here’s what the Denver facility looks like.


The new drive-thru coronavirus testing station opened in Denver on Wednesday.

Jim Urquhart/Reuters

According to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the drive-thru site will be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Friday. A full schedule will be announced next week on the state website.


The station offers testing free to people with a doctor’s note confirming they meet criteria raising the prospect of coronavirus infection.

Jim Urquhart/Reuters

Patients qualify for free coronavirus testing if they have shown symptoms, if they have recently travelled to high-risk areas, or if they have been in close contact with someone who tested positive, according to a state health department representative.

Symptoms of the coronavirus could include a fever, fatigue, a dry cough, and sometimes muscle pain or difficulty breathing.

People are required to bring a photo ID and obtain a doctor’s note for the free test. They’re being asked to get that note via email or fax to avoid putting others at risk by visiting a doctor’s office or clinic in person.


Patients can expect test results within 72 hours, according to officials, and should quarantine at home while they wait.

Jim Urquhart/Reuters

How quickly patients can expect their test results depends on the number of people tested, according to a state official, but people should be contacted directly with their results within 72 hours.

During that time, patients need to wait at home and isolate themselves from other people and public spaces.

If a patient tests positive, an isolation order may be issued, according to the health department.


160 people were tested at the Denver site the day it opened. At least 33 cases have been confirmed positive across Colorado so far.

Jim Urquhart/Reuters

The first day of the drive-thru testing station saw 160 patients, according to a state health official, and more are expected Thursday and Friday.

So far, six people have tested positive for coronavirus in the Denver area, according to the most recent data. Thirty-three people total had tested positive for the virus statewide as of Thursday.


Drive-thru testing is one way to mitigate widespread problems with coronavirus diagnosis test access in the US.

Jim Urquhart/Reuters

Elsewhere in the country, people who suspect they may have coronavirus have reported logistical and financial challenges with getting tested.

Some patients have reported waiting for days after applying for tests, uncertain whether it’s safe for themselves or their families to leave the house.

As of March 8, the US had the lowest rate of coronavirus testing of any developed country, and some areas are reporting a shortage of materials and kits needs to perform the tests, Business Insider previously reported.


Similar testing sites have been established in California, Washington, and around the world.

Andreas Gebert/ReutersA medic conducting a swab test during a media event at a drive-thru coronavirus testing checkpoint in Munich, Germany, on March 11.

Drive-through testing was first established in the US in Seattle, Washington earlier this week. Other sites have since popped up across the country, including in Connecticut and California.

These testing sites are also available in other countries, including in South Korea, the UK, and Germany.

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