ST. GEORGE — Driving by the empty parking lot of the Red Cliffs Mall Friday motorists will notice something out of place, a row of white tents that will be used to expand St. George’s testing capacity for the coronavirus.
According to St. George Mayor Jon Pike, also a project manager for the planning and construction at Dixie Regional Medical Center, announced the new COVID-19 testing during a virtual city council meeting Thursday.
The free drive-through testing, Pike said, is scheduled between noon and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday with potential testing on Saturday as well, but he did not announce the time for the weekend schedule. Depending on the need, the hours could be extended.
The city has partnered with Silicon Slopes and the state of Utah to join TestUtah.com, which is open for citizens to take a personal assessment and determine if a test is warranted.
TestUtah is hosting its testing efforts in the Red Cliffs Mall parking lot outside JCPenney. To be able to test, participants must first take an assessment and scan a QR Code on a smartphone if instructed.
The council also discussed the legislature’s recently called special session.
“There are a lot of moving pieces,” Pike said. “The legislature called itself back to order this week and there are (more than 20 bills) all tied one way or another to COVID-19.”
The legislature can be in a special session for up to 10 days.
“I know there a lot of people trying to do the best they can,” Pike said. “I think most people are trying to follow the advice. … I think hopefully we’ve learned some things, bought some time for the health care industry to be ready in case there is another surge.”
Pike said his hopes are if numbers rise again, that it happens later in the year when there will be a better stockpile of protective personal equipment, increased care capacity and treatment available.
“Handwashing, as dumb as that sounds, is huge,” Pike said. ” I’ve had several doctors say we are not very good at basic things.”
Pike said the city will monitor the number of new cases and adjust its desire to reopen businesses as long as it is a prudent course of action.
“I think we are on the right side of it at this point and we’ve learned a lot,” Pike said.
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