PERRYVILLE — There was a steady flow of traffic as people arrived to the parking lot of Perryville High School Tuesday morning to take advantage of free COVID-19 screening offered by ChristianaCare.
Staffed by crews from the hospital in Stanton, Del. four tables were set up for the drive-through testing, which involved a long swab inserted deep into both sides of the nasal cavity.
“It was very uncomfortable but I didn’t punch anybody,” said Thomas King. He called the test worthwhile.
“I suffer from COPD and I smoked for years. I might have it and not know it and give it to my family,” the Perryville man said moments after being tested. “It was the responsible thing to do.”
Rose Dickerson and her two passengers also came to get tested.
“All of us had been sick at some point,” Dickerson, from Perryville, said. “We wanted to be tested to see if we had it or have it.”
Dickerson had a little more trouble when the swab made contact with her deviated septum. Although she said it burned on one side, the other nostril fared better.
At another car the sound of applause rose up as a child made it through the test successfully.
“Kids do better than adults,” one of the medical staffers reported, adding the child, 7, was promised ice cream, which may have helped.
Terri Corbo, senior vice president of Clinical Essential Services for Christiana Care, said the hospital brought hundreds of test kits to Perryville and offered to test anyone who came. Insurance would not be billed and no money would change hands. Vehicles bearing Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania tags showed up.
“If they are our residents (Delaware) they go back to Christiana for testing,” Corbo said. Cecil County residents would have their tests carried out at ChristianaCare Union Hospital.
“Test results come back quick,” she said. “We get results within 24 hours ... but it takes time to call everyone with the results.” It will take more time to do contact tracing for people who test positive.
Those who came to Perryville High School Tuesday would likely get results by the end of the week. The answer can’t come soon enough for Dickerson.
“I’ve got grandkids I’ve been dying to see,” she said. “If I test negative them might let me see them.”
Kathryn McKinney, spokeswoman for CC Union Hospital, said no decision has been made for a second free drive-thru testing clinic.