The four COVID-19 test collection sites in the Shoals will continue taking samples as long as supplies last, officials said Thursday.

The sites are located at:

• Thrive Urgent Care, 3500 Cloverdale Road, Florence;

• Med Plus in Florence, 2908 Mall Drive;

• Express Med, 970 Cox Creek Parkway, Florence; and

• Colbert County office complex in Tuscumbia.

Elizabeth Foster, emergency preparations coordinator for the Alabama Department of Public Health's North District, said the sampling at the Colbert County office complex is being conducted in conjunction with the State Health Department, Helen Keller Hospital and North Alabama Medical Center.

Foster said the drive-through sampling site is only open to individuals who have been seen by a physician and are exhibiting symptoms of the illness.

The sampling and subsequent COVID-19 test is free, she said.

Testing began Wednesday and Foster said 20 patients were swabbed.

The nasal swabs are then sent to the Bureau of Clinical Laboratories in Montgomery, where they are tested to determine if the patient has COVID-19. She said results are returned in four to five days.

The Tuscumbia sampling site is serving patients in Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale and Lawrence counties.

The site will be open today and then a decision will be made if it needs to remain open longer.

Tests taken at the three locations in Florence are normally billed to the patient's insurance carrier.

Dustin Grutzik, office manager of Med Plus in Florence, said testing is available for people who are experiencing symptoms of the disease, or have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus. 

Med Plus will not provide tests to those who are not showing symptoms.

"We have limited supplies," Grutzik said. "We cannot do an elective test."

He said the tests cost between $50 and $75.

Patients are asked to call ahead so Med Plus can make arrangements to segregate the patient from others. 

Test results normally come back in three to four days.

Beth Stutts, office manager at Express Med in Florence, said they will only see patients who are showing COVID-19 symptoms — a cough, a high fever, and shortness of breath.

The tests are billed to insurance, or cost $67 for patients paying in cash.

Stutts said they test for the common flu or strep throat first, then conduct additional screening at the nurse practitioner's discretion.

Test results come back in about four days.

The samples are tested in a private laboratory. 

Sampling is also being conducted at Thrive Urgent Care in Florence.

Those three sites will continue testing as long as they have the proper supplies, officials said.

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