In one week, staff working the MU Health Care drive-thru test center swabbed more than 1,000 people for COVID-19, according the hospital’s Wednesday news release.

The drive-thru service began at noon March 18 and tested a little over 100 patients. And then, on Sunday, the hospital relaxed regulations and testing surged.

On Monday, 285 patients were tested for COVID-19, MU Health Care media relations strategist Eric Maze said Wednesday.

The hospital eased its regulations around questions providers were asking of patients — their travel history, risk factors and previous exposure to the virus.

Now, the requirements for testing are symptom-based, whether a person is experiencing a fever, cough and sore throat. The drive-thru option, Maze emphasized, is for people experiencing mild symptoms, not severe ones.

Those looking to get tested at the MU Health Care drive-thru need to be assessed by a provider and have a physician’s order before they are screened.

MU Health Care will accept a video visit option. Patients can schedule video visits at Over 1,000 people have used MU Health Care’s free video visits to be evaluated for COVID-19, a service that began March 17.

Drive-thru testing also allows patients who are concerned they have the virus to remain secluded from others, Maze said. And, it helps the Emergency Department provide care to those with severe symptoms and others in emergent situations.

“For patients with mild symptoms, drive-thru testing offers a fast, safe and convenient option,” Jonathan Heidt, MU Health Care emergency physician, said in the news release.

The swabbing process takes a matter of seconds, and once tested, their results are sent to GeneTrait Laboratories and processed within 24 to 48 hours.

People who have severe symptoms — like increased respiratory distress — should call ahead to the Emergency Department before arriving, Heidt noted in the news release.

For more COVID-19 related news, see our section dedicated to COVID-19 updates.
  • Copy editor, reporter and info graphics. I am a senior studying news reporting and sociology. Previously, I've reported on public safety issues and city government. Reach me at, or 573-340-5591.

  • Elizabeth Brixey is a city editor at the Columbia Missourian. She oversees coverage of education. She can be reached at (573) 882-2632 and

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