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Stay up to date with the latest news on the coronavirus and COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. We'll post regular updates from NPR and regional news from the WRVO newsroom. You can also find updates on our live blog.

Community test site for coronavirus to open in Syracuse

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News (file photo)
Volunteers answer calls at a COVID-19 triage hotline at Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse

A new testing site for the coronavirus is open today in the city of Syracuse. The Syracuse Community Health Center on South Salina Street will test individuals who may have been exposed to the virus and have been referred by a physician. Onondaga County Executive Ryan McMahon said the idea is to prevent people from flocking to emergency rooms and overwhelming the system.

"We’re seeing people who are sick for other reasons thinking they have COVID-19 running to the emergency room. And even though they don’t have it, it’s taking up a lot of time and putting more stress on our ERs," McMahon said.

The testing site is primarily for people who do not have insurance or a primary care doctor. Anyone who thinks they need a test must first call a hotline set up by Upstate Medical University. Upstate physician Dr. Jeremy Joslin said volunteers will answer questions from people who may be showing possible symptoms or may have an exposure to someone diagnosed with a positive case of COVID-19, and triage their case.

"We really want to provide this service to the entire region to provide specialized guidance to each caller so they know what’s the best course of action," said Joslin.

If a caller meets the criteria for a test, they'll be told to go to the testing site. The health center will send tests to Quest Diagnostics, a private lab approved for COVID-19 testing.

McMahon said as of Sunday, the hotline received over 200 calls in 24 hours. If anyone has questions about the coronavirus or thinks they may have symptoms, they can call the hotline at 315-464-3979. The hotline is available 24 hours a day. 

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.