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The novel coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan, China, in 2019. (Photo Courtesy/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention/Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS)

The Georgia Department of Public Health is expanding COVID-19 testing to all symptomatic people, according to a Wednesday DPH news release. Health care workers, first responders, law enforcement and long-term care facility residents and staff will be prioritized for testing.

A referral is still required to get a test at one of the DPH’s specimen collection sites, the release said. Georgia residents can now be referred in two ways — through their local health department or their health care provider. Health care providers have been referring patients to get COVID-19 tests.

People who go through a local health department will be screened by health staff and referred to the closest specimen collection site, according to the release. Contact information for local health departments can be found on the DPH’s website, under “COVID-19 in Georgia.”

A drive-thru testing site opened in Athens on March 19 and is operated by the Northeast Health District. Patients give samples that are sent to a lab to be analyzed and will receive results in three to four days. The location of the site in Athens is given to patients once they are referred by a health care provider, said Sarah Peck, Clarke County Health Department manager.

The release said not to arrive without an appointment at specimen collection sites, hospitals, emergency rooms or other health care facilities. Only people who have already been evaluated by a health care professional will be tested.

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