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Drive-thru COVID-19 testing wraps up early in South Omaha

Posted at 12:22 PM, May 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-17 19:18:05-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — Cars packed parking lots at One World Health Center in South Omaha.

"It's tremendously successful. The community response is very gratifying," Douglas County Health Department's Phil Rooney said.

Rooney tells 3 News now they collaborated with the Nebraska National Guard to host drive through testing.

"Testing is vitally important," Rooney said. "That's how we're going to be hopefully able to get control of the COVID-19 outbreak. When people are tested we know who needs to go into isolation, who needs to quarantine, we keep people a part so the virus doesn't spread."

As of Sunday, 46% of the more than 2,400 total coronavirus cases in Douglas County are in the Hispanic population.

"There are a high number of cases here so we're responding to that need and we want to try and figure out just how big a need it is," Rooney said. "You find out who's sick and then you can start putting people in quarantine and having people isolate so we can stop the spread of it."

They were able to perform 300 tests on Sunday.

"It definitely picked up quickly," Major Joseph Eggen said. "This morning, our plan was to start at 10 o'clock. We probably had a couple hundred vehicles lined up by about 9:45 so we were able to get started a little bit earlier and actually started about 15 minutes before 10."

Major Eggen says the Nebraska National Guard has been running tests sites for about 45 days.

He tells 3 News Now those who participate react differently.

"Some people have some trepidation for sure, that said there are also many that are excited for an opportunity to be able to be tested," he said.

Testing will take place again starting Monday at the One World Health Center in South Omaha.

The health department says tomorrow's testing will focus on those who are symptomatic or working in packing plants.

Testing is free and anyone wishing to be tested needs to provide their name and date of birth.