ALCOA, Tenn. (WATE) – Blount County officials announced Wednesday they have established the first drive-thru coronavirus screening in the county.

Blount Memorial Hospital will begin offering drive-thru screening and potential testing for COVID-19 (coronavirus) at East Tennessee Medical Group, located at 266 Joule St. Services will be available from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The drive-thru is only accepting Blount County residents.

All those who visit the screening site will not automatically be tested for COVID-19.

To receive a test, individuals must meet specific guidelines, which including having a temperature of 100.4° degrees or greater upon arrival or having had a temperature of 100.4° in recent days, with an acute respiratory illness that includes either a cough or shortness of breath.

“We’re extremely glad to be one of the first facilities in our area to offer drive-thru screening and testing for coronavirus,” Blount Memorial Chief Medical Officer Dr. Harold Naramore said. “It’s important to know, however, that this is not a coronavirus ‘check-up’ and that we will not test simply because someone is worried.

“This drive-thru set up is for people in our community who are experiencing specific symptoms, and we ask our community to help us be good stewards of resources and only come if your physician’s office directs you to or if you have symptoms that mirror our screening guidelines.”

Those who need to be tested will complete some basic paperwork and should be prepared to present their driver’s license and insurance card, as tests administered will be submitted on behalf of individuals to insurance companies. Coverage varies, and it is recommended to check with your specific provider for coverage details.

If you’re unsure about your need for potential testing, call your physician’s office for specific instructions.

“They and their staffs are ready to help you make the most appropriate decision for you,” Naramore said, adding that unless you are coming directly to this drive-thru location, it’s still best to call your physician’s office or the hospital prior to just showing up with signs of respiratory illness.

“This allows us to be ready to screen and test you in a specific way that limits your exposure, and that also helps us to protect our staff.”

Naramore also urges the community to keep their scheduled medical appointments, as by forgoing regular medical care can set individuals up for severe medical complications.

“Make sure your fear of exposure does not cause you to develop potentially severe complications related to existing health issues,” he said.