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Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital has set up three COVID-19 remote test collection locations over the past several days, including one at the Belgrade clinic. 

The three locations are set up to collect swab samples from people who received outpatient lab orders from their health care providers, not for just anybody on the street. But it is fast and effective, said Jacqueline Sikoski, the hospital's incident command section chief. Sikoski also serves as the system director of diagnostics and therapeutics. 

"We have an expedited registration process and they are swabbed in their car," Sikoski said. "Patients stay in their car, and it takes about 90 seconds." 

The remote test collection tents are also a more efficient way to test people with as little exposure to the virus as possible. 

"These drive up sites provide a way to minimize exposure," Sikoski said. She said the sites are a "very safe alternative" to testing in a hospital setting, where a patient would likely come into contact with more people. 

Once the swabs are collected by medical professionals wearing protective gear at the testing sites, they're sent to the state lab to be processed. As of Tuesday morning, the state had processed 1,689 tests, 51 of which turned up positive.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Gallatin County had 19 cases of the virus — more than any other Montana county. 

People need to have a test ordered from a doctor before going to one of the drive-through test locations, but that doesn't necessarily mean an in-person doctor's visit. Tests can be ordered after a phone or online consultation if a health care provider feels one is necessary. 

"If they need a test, receiving that order should be easy for them," she said. "If they do drive up and request a test without an order, we direct them to go to the urgent care or to the viral triage clinic."

Sikoski said that there are no plans right now to open more remote test collection centers, but that may change depending on the demand. 

"We could operationalize one very quickly so if needed, yes, we would be in a position to (open more)," she said. 

The three remote test collection sites are at the Bozeman Health Belgrade Clinic parking lot, Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital parking lot and at the Bozeman Health Outpatient Services parking lot on North 19th Avenue. 

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Melissa Loveridge can be reached at mloveridge@dailychronicle.com or at (406) 582-2651.