Sanford reopens drive-through testing clinic as COVID-19 cases surge


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — COVID-19 testing is ramping up once again in Sioux Falls. Sanford’s drive through clinic closed in March when case numbers dropped. But now it’s back open and doctors have been busy.

Dr. Brian Tjarks is one of the people swabbing drive through patients at the Sanford Sports Complex and he’s passionate about testing.

“We know that there are only two ways to stop the spread of COVID-19. One is isolating those people that are sick and two is by vaccinating the healthy,” said Sanford Doctor Brian Tjarks. “The only way we’re going to know whether or not people are ill is to test.”

Right now the drive though is open from 8 am until noon seven days a week, but Tjarks says those hours maybe expanding.

“Last week we tested about 1,200 people in the greater Sioux Falls area. We expect to test probably over 3,000 people this week,” said Tjarks.

This drive through tests nearly a hundred people a day. Of those 16 percent test positive for COVID-19. Dr. Tjarks says it’s because the Delta variant spreads so easily.

“Now for every one person that’s infected, they infect six people. Because of that it’s just increased exponentially,” said Tjarks.

This is the on site lab that turns out test results in 6 to 8 hours. Tjarks tells patients to isolate in the meantime.

“We know people are infectious for two to four days before they actually develop symptoms and so it’s important that wherever these people were, whoever they were in contact with, those people need to know so that they can be tested,” said Tjarks.

Tjarks worked the drive through during the original COVID-19 outbreak. He’s noticing a big difference with this new one.

“This virus is not a respecter of any person. The young people can get just as ill and right now that’s what we’re seeing in our hospital. We’re seeing a younger group in the intensive care unit,” said Tjarks.

You need an order from your primary care doctor to get a COVID-19 test. That speeds up testing time to just a couple of minutes.

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