Step by step: The Houston County Health Department drive through COVID-19 testing


DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — The Houston County Health Department has seen an increase in community members being tested for COVID-19. They usually set up testing centers for two hours but will often see lines wrapped around the building for far longer than that.

“The actual swab takes about 5 seconds, it’s very short but we kind of slow down with our paperwork and stuff like that to make sure that we have all the information that we need because it is drive through testing so It’s not like we have anything on file or anything like that,” Assistant District Administrator Kyle Odom said.

There are multiple testing methods including rapid tests, but the Houston County Health Department puts a 6-inch cotton swab in your nose and moves it around for about 5-10 seconds.

Results are available in three to five days but may be delayed with the increase in tests being administered.

“We do the nasopharyngeal swab so that’s the one that everyone hates, the one that goes so far. Based off of the viral media and the reagents that we have the nasopharyngeal swab is just the most accurate,” Odom said.

Houston County has seen a higher testing rate in comparison to other counties. One couple traveled in from Ozark and explained their process.

“The first tent they give you some paperwork that you have to fill out,” said, Tony Davidson who was being tested Wednesday for COVID-19. “The next tent after you fill it out, you put your, after you fill it out you have to put your information on the window because they don’t want to touch it,” said Roberta Harper, who was also being tested for COVID-19. “Then they make you open the window and they ask you questions.”

After being asked health questions from the questionnaire, the patients move on to the actual testing process which they describe as uncomfortable but not unbearable.

“They stick a swab up your nose,” Davidson said. “And it feels wet when it goes in there. I don’t know about him but it burned my nose because this is the second time I’ve had this done, The first time I had it done it made you feel like you were going to snort out your nose,” Harper said. “I’m like President Trump was with it, I’m cool with it, it didn’t bother me,” Davidson said.

The testing process can take a few hours from start to finish. Roberta and Tony said they had been there for a little over two hours waiting for the actual test and going through the process.

Testing is done on patients that meet the health department criteria and are symptomatic.

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