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New downtown COVID-19 drive-thru testing site features mouthwash test instead of nasal swab

The new testing site on East Broadway at the Jefferson Community and Technical College aims to expand easy access to free testing.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As Louisville Metro is encouraging everyone to continue getting frequent COVID-19 tests, a new drive-through testing site opened downtown on Monday. 

SV Diagnostics has set up the site at its location on East Broadway at the Jefferson Community and Technical College.

The new testing site aims to expand easy access to free testing.

"This will allow us to be 20 minutes from the city in every direction for people to come get a COVID test," site spokesperson Perrin Johnson said. 

While registrations are encouraged, the site also welcomes walk-ups. The test offered is a mouthwash solution instead of a nasal swab.

"Kids don't want a swab in their nose. Old people, their skin is a little more frail and fragile. Sometimes you can bruise the nasal cavity when you do the swab," Johnson said. 

When you arrive to the site, a healthcare professional will hand you a bag with a solution to rinse in your mouth, before spitting it into a container with another solution. 

Johnson described the mouthwash taste to be like "flat Redbull" and he says it's "a more pleasant" way to get tested. It'll then be ready for SV diagnostics to run the test and give results within 48 hours.

"The mucosa in your nose, it regenerates every 14 days. The mucosa in your mouth regenerates every 7 days," Johnson said.

"So we have a lot of people that are walking around with false positives with the nasal test," site manager Kim Spahn said.

Spahn, also a nurse practitioner, said the oral test is just as effective as other covid-19 tests.

"Or even more effective due to to the fact that it's not necessarily about the type of test, whether it goes through your nose and your mouth, but actually the machines that they're run on," she said. 

Spahn said SV Diagnostics runs samples on the RT-PCR Test, which is considered "the gold standard" for most sensitive techniques to detect COVID-19. 

Other large testing sites in the area are still using nasal swabs, including UofL Health's testing sites.

"The reason we do the nasopharyngeal swab is that it is, at least from what I have seen, the easiest way to achieve the best results for the COVID test," UofL Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Jason Smith said. "Could that change in the future? Absolutely. As tests become different and more sensitive, there may be easier ways to do this."

Dr. Smith said he can't speak to how effective the mouthwash test is. He said for anyone unsure of which type of COVID-19 test is best for them, to talk to their healthcare provider.

"People need to know if they are symptomatic whether they are positive or negative or whether they have a head cold," Johnson said.

The JCTC testing site will be open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday. To make an appointment, call (859) 203-1460 or click here

►Contact reporter Tyler Emery at temery@WHAS11.com. Follow her on Twitter (@TylerWHAS11) and Facebook.  

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