Pontiac — Oakland County opened up its first drive-thru testing program for COVID-19 Thursday and served 50 residents on a priority basis, according to county officials.

The tests were administered by Oakland County health workers and Honor Community Health services and conducted in a parking lot on the county complex, 1200 North Telegraph, behind Building 28E, which houses the County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Residents who had prearranged appointments were processed while never leaving their vehicles and sent on their way within a couple of minutes without any problems, according to Oakland County Executive David Coulter.

“This was our first day, and we kept it to 50 reservations so we could work out the bugs, if any,” Coulter said. “It was efficient and orderly, and we will start up again Friday at 9 a.m. By next week, we expect to broaden it to about 250 tests a day."

Coulter said those tested are given the option of being informed of results by text, email or telephone call. Persons who test positive are given further instructions.

“We expect to have results for them within 48 hours,” he said.

The program, similar to one at the former State Fairgrounds in Detroit, is also free of charge, but unlike the Detroit effort, it does not require a prescription from personal physicians to be tested.

“All of our tests at this time are by appointment only and only provided once they have been questioned and found to qualify because they have exhibited symptoms,” Coulter said.

Persons interested in being tested should call the county Health Divisions’ Nurse On Call Hotline at (800) 848-5533. Based on initial phone interviews, workers will determine whether callers are eligible for the first round of tests.

The tests are first being prioritized for first responders, essential or critical infrastructure employees, adults age 65 or older, those with underlying conditions and residents of Pontiac.

“Pontiac was designated as the location because its citizens are among the largest number in the community who have not had access to tests and have a disproportionate number of positive cases," Coulter said. "It will eventually be made available to all residents.”

Coulter stressed testing is important because it will not only help identify persons with the virus but those who might be resistant to it.

"This is an important step as we ramp up efforts to defeat COVID-19," he said.

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