Major sports stadiums around the country are empty following widespread event cancellations. However, they are finding new use as regional testing centers for COVID-19.
The most prominent venues-turned-test sites are propped up on opposite ends on the country in some of the hardest-hit areas. In California, San Diego’s SDCCU Stadium has begun testing residents while a baseball field not far from Dodger Stadium is also used as a testing site. Meanwhile, Miami is utilizing both Hard Rock Stadium and Marlins Park for distributing virus tests. Philadelphia locals can obtain testing outside of Citizens Bank Park. All sites are operated via drive-thru in order to limit crowds and direct contact for those who are possibly infected with COVID-19. However, they may differ in other testing guidelines.
“CDC has guidance for who should be tested, but decisions about testing are at the discretion of state and local health departments and/or individual clinicians,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states on its website. “Clinicians should work with their state and local health departments to coordinate testing through public health laboratories, or work with clinical or commercial laboratories.”
Each testing site has different operating hours and testing restrictions based on a limited supply of testing kits and equipment. The testing center at Citizens Bank Park is open 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily and only serving symptomatic residents age 50 and up plus healthcare workers on the front lines who are in direct contact with infected patients. In Miami, Hard Rock Stadium provided testing for only first responders on its first day of operation, while the general public will need to call a helpline and make an appointment to get tested at Marlins Park. SDCCU Stadium, open for testing 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday, will only test those with a doctor’s referral.
Drive-thru testing centers are popping up across the country as the virus spreads and officials work at getting more testing kits available.