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Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

Huge COVID-19 testing efforts underway across the state

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health is hosting a series of drive-thru COVID-19 testing.

Across the state, the Arkansas Department of Health is hosting a series of drive-thru COVID-19 testing. Today, hundreds of people went to the Washington County Health Unit in Fayetteville to get their tests, with no out of pocket charge.

"Everyone is wearing their PPE and we are moving people through very quickly," said Dr. Mark Thomas at Washington Regional Hospital.

In one of his weekly addresses, Governor Asa Hutchinson set a goal to conduct 60,000 COVID-19 tests by the end of May. Today, there's a huge surge of testing across the state.

Hundreds of people waited in their vehicles outside of the Washington County Health Unit in Fayetteville. Today's test was free of charge with no insurance needed. 

"We're so pleased with the turnout, the volunteer support, were going to be testing a lot of people in northwest Arkansas," said Cassie Cochran, Northwest Regional Director.

Medical professionals say you can get coronavirus and still be asymptomatic, unaware you are spreading the disease.

"If you've been in close contact with someone who is positive it's important to get tested because you can spread the disease before showing symptoms," said Dr. Mark Thomas Washington Regional Hospital.

Volunteers in the medical field were able to give out over 1000 tests with four testing stations set up in the parking lot.

"We are doing nasal swabs today so we have a lot of medical volunteers to be our eyes and ears and keep everyone safe," said Cochran.

With no wait time, the screening and testing process itself takes less than 5 minutes. 

The Governor says testing will help collect data, to know if or when another outbreak could occur in Arkansas.

"tI's important to get a good idea of how widespread the infection in the community is," said Thomas.

Including Fayetteville, the Arkansas Department of Health also hosted drive-thru testing events in West Memphis, Dequeen and Pinebluff.