A new coronavirus testing site is set to open in a Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport parking lot on Monday as health authorities try to slow the spread of the pandemic.
Fulton County’s Board of Health said the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the White House Coronavirus Task Force designated Atlanta a “hot spot” and contacted the state Department of Public Health and Fulton County Board of Health to open a “surge spot” for testing.
The testing site will open for 12 days in the airport’s newly constructed Sullivan Road park-ride lot at 1800 Sullivan Rd. in College Park. That parking lot was completed earlier this year but has remained closed amid weak travel demand due to the pandemic.
The testing site is being set up with HHS and will be able to conduct as many as 5,000 tests a day, according to Fulton County district health director Lynn Paxton, who announced the plan at the Fulton County Board of Commissioners meeting on Wednesday.
The Georgia Department of Public Health calls it a “mega-testing site” that will be open Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 10-26.
The free testing is open to those who live in any county in Georgia, regardless of symptoms according to DPH, which issued an official announcement on the testing site in partnership with Gov. Brian Kemp, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency and Hartsfield-Jackson.
The tests will be done by self-administered nasal swab, with results available in 48 to 72 hours, according to DPH.
HHS said a week ago that it “is standing up temporary federal surge testing sites in partnership with communities experiencing outbreaks,” and that it has COVID-19 surge testing sites in Baton Rouge and New Orleans; Bakersfield, Calif.; and Miami.
The surge testing represents a temporary increase in federal support to communities with recent increases in new cases and hospitalizations.
The testing blitz is targeted at metropolitan areas that have “increased cases, increased positivity,” with the aim of helping to flatten the curve by detecting cases that might otherwise go undetected, according to Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir during a briefing last month.
Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport including Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines, one of the world's largest carriers, and Hartsfield-Jackson, the world's busiest airport. She has covered airlines for about 20 years, graduated from Harvard and has a master's degree from Northwestern.