DES MOINES, Iowa — Polk County plans to open multiple drive-thru COVID-19 test sites to help alleviate the testing surge that has overwhelmed local hospitals, clinics and pharmacies.

The county’s first COVID-19 test site will open on Monday, Jan. 17 at Polk County River Place in Des Moines (2309 Euclid Avenue/West Parking Lot).

The test sites will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day including weekends. Registration will take place at the testing site.

Those getting tested are asked to bring their insurance (if applicable) and are required to show ID for proof of residency. The tests are free for people who are symptomatic or have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.

The test sites will offer PCR tests and rapid tests. PCR test results will be sent directly to individuals within 48 hours either by phone, email or text message.

Polk County River Place

“Testing is a critical component in helping to slow the current surge of COVID-19 and Polk County is working to help fill the void in the availability of COVID testing,” said Polk County Board of Supervisors Chair Angela Connolly. “Whether it is a need to show proof of a negative test to an employer or if someone was exposed or has developed mild symptoms, there is a large demand for testing. Testing at clinics should be reserved for those who need medical attention, we hope that the addition of several drive-through locations will help alleviate some of the pressure on our hospitals and clinics.”

Polk County is partnering with WellHealth Works to open the test sites throughout the county. Additional drive-thru test sites will open soon, but officials did not give an exact timeline.

Iowans hospitalized with COVID-19 reaches highest level since December 2020

The number of patients currently hospitalized with COVID-19 in Iowa hasn’t been this high since 2020, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.

As of Friday, 998 people are in Iowa hospitals with COVID-19, according to state data. The last time there were more people hospitalized with the virus in the state was Dec. 2, 2020, when the state reported 1,000 COVID-19 patients in the hospital.

Those not fully vaccinated account for 77% of the COVID-19 patients being treated in intensive care units, according to the Iowa Department of Public Health.