MANSFIELD — The head of the Tioga County COVID-19 Task Force demonstrated how the drive-thru testing at Walmart works.

Ankur Shah, market health and wellness director for Walmart, said the first drive-thru testing at the Mansfield Walmart was held Wednesday, June 17. Testing by appointment only will continue from 7-9 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The test is free and no physician order is required.

Patients can sign up at slots scheduled every five minutes. Up to 40 patients can be tested each day. More days or hours could be added if there is a need, he said.

“Our ability to diagnose the disease in the early stages will help us contain it,” said Jim Nobles, chairman of the Tioga County task force. “People who are asymptomatic or have minor symptoms are continuing to populate our community with coronavirus. They can spread the disease to someone who is more at risk.”

The testing site has three stations, explained Shah. The person remains in the vehicle with the windows rolled up except to accept and return the test kit.

Staff at the first station verify the identity of the person and that he or she is registered to be tested. The second station is where the kit is prepared and handed to the person in the vehicle. At the third station, a pharmacist guides the person in self-administering the test and collects the sample.

Those being tested are urged to return home and limit their exposure until results are returned by email, usually within three to five days.

“If a patient records positive, they should immediately contact their health care provider,” said Nobles.

Nate Wardle, a spokesperson for the Department of Health, said the patient’s physician will also contact the department, at which time the state begins its investigation. A DOH employee will contact patients who test positive with a series of questions: who are they, where do they work, how long they’ve been sick and how and where that person may have been exposed. The interview typically lasts an hour.

People are also asked where they may have had close contact with someone else. A close contact is defined as being within six feet of anyone for more than 10 to 15 minutes, said Wardle.

The department then reaches out to every person who may have come into contact with the COVID-19 positive patient to inform them that they may have been exposed on this date. They also receive information on what they should do if they have COVID-19 symptoms and where to get testing if they want that.

The testing site will help bring people with potential exposure to coronavirus in at an early stage for testing and diagnosis, Shah said.

“This is exactly what we need to control this,” Nobles said. “This gives us a chance during the summer months to prepare for the fall and what awaits us.”

To schedule a COVID-19 test, visit myquestcovidtestpa.com.