Colorado’s new drive-through coronavirus-testing station in Denver made its debut Wednesday and was quickly overwhelmed. At one point Thursday, the line of cars with passengers waiting to be swabbed was almost four hours long, until the state cut off the service for the day.
Drive-through checks for Covid-19, with health workers in protective gear swabbing noses through car windows, was part of South Korea’s largely successful strategy for containing the virus: The country tested more than 200,000 in a matter of weeks, a stark contrast to the U.S., where testing has proceeded at a crawl.
This week, a handful of states are deploying their own drive-through operations. New York opened its first Friday in New Rochelle, the epicenter of its outbreak. New Hampshire set up an operation this week.
In Colorado, the length of Thursday’s line was a surprise. Even with prescreening and the warning, waits stretched to nearly four hours before the state shut it down. The health department announced a new protocol the next day: The station in Denver’s Lowry neighborhood would take only the first 100 to 150 cars, and direct cars after that to seek out a private provider.
The state closed the station early Friday because of cold weather that could compromise health workers’ protective gear. It was poised to open again on Saturday.