The Georgia Department of Public Health on Friday morning opened a site in Cherokee County to collect and process specimens from people who may have been exposed to individuals with COVID-19.

In response to the ongoing health crisis, the Department of Public Health began setting up drive-through specimen collection sites in all 18 public health districts across the state, according to DPH spokeswoman Nancy Nydam. These centers are designed to collect specimens from individuals who are mildly ill, do not require medical care or hospitalization and are part of what the agency considers a prioritized group. These groups include healthcare workers and first responders, those who care for members of more vulnerable populations, such as staff members of long-term care facilities, and people 60 and older who live in congregate settings where the virus can spread rapidly.

People must be referred to the center by a healthcare provider, Nydam said. Officials stressed the center is not open for people to stop in and request testing. The center will be operating 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. until noon on Friday.

“Individuals who have been evaluated by a healthcare provider and assigned a PUI (Person Under Investigation) number will be referred to these drive-through sites,” Nydam said. “A centralized electronic referral system for healthcare providers has been developed by DPH and shared with healthcare providers.”

The Cherokee County site is at the Cherokee County Health Department facility in Woodstock, located at 7545 Main St. and is serving the hotspot areas of north Georgia.

“The site is adjacent to the Northwest Georgia (Floyd-Bartow County) region that is currently experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak and is near both Cobb and Fulton County, which has the highest number of positive cases in Georgia,” Nydam said. “The goal for this site is to begin processing 100 specimens per day and can be ramped up if the demand is needed within the state’s existing referral system.”

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