Feeling the heat: COVID-19 testing continues despite extreme heat in Arizona

On July 10, high demand for COVID-19 testing meant another day of long lines at one drive-thru location, and with high temperatures, it can make things pretty tough for those who have to spend time out in the heat.

People react to wait during extreme heat

Long lines of cars wrapped around South Mountain Community College on Friday, as people waited in their cars for the test, on a day when temperatures reached a high in the 110s.

"As long as you have AC and drinks, stay hydrated and make sure your vehicle is full of gas so you don't get stuck," said one person.

Medical workers adapting to extreme heat

The heat makes it challenging for everyone involved, especially the health care workers who are testing patients in outdoor drive-thrus.

The site at SMCC offered tests from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., with workers worker in two shifts. Some of the workers are fully covered from head to toe, in full protective gear, under the dangerously hot temperatures. The site's manager, Marsha Wood, says everyday, they’re learning and making changes, especially with the extreme heat, and they want things to run as smoothly as possible.  

To keep the staff and volunteers safe, Wood says they take breaks every 10 minutes, and she makes sure they are drinking water.

"I personally go around and check on every individual to make sure they’re hydrated and make sure they are OK because these are really challenging conditions to work under," said Wood.

There are also tents and power generators to keep them cool.

Wood is encouraging feedback, as she tries to keep things running as smoothly as possible.

"I personally ask them all of the time, 'please, is there anything we can do? What do you need? are you OK? So, as they are giving us feedback, we are making the adjustments wherever possible," said Wood.

Testing at SMCC will resume on July 14, and will be done every Tuesday through Friday until August 7.

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