Essential reporting in volatile times.

Click here to stay informed and subscribe to The Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Click #isupportlocal for more information on supporting our local journalists.

Learn more about HD Media

As COVID-19 cases continue to climb in West Virginia along with the potential need for more tests, Charleston Area Medical Center will open a new drive-thru testing site at its Women and Children’s Hospital, according to a news release.

The site will open Wednesday, and will operate on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon, per the release. It is open to children and their families.

The new site opens just as students and teachers across the state are returning to schools, which could mean a need for more tests as the potential for exposure to COVID-19 increases in school-age children and their families.

Per the release, CAMC has been working out the logistics of school reopenings for weeks. At a Kanawha-Charleston Health Department board meeting Thursday, local health officials shared a number of concerns related to students returning to school. These worries are compounded with Kanawha County’s COVID-19 case numbers, which Dr. Sherri Young, health officer at KCHD, said she doesn’t expect to see substantially drop any time soon.

As of 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Kanawha County reported 1,783 total cases of COVID-19, 609 of which are active, and 46 deaths related to the virus in the county, per KCHD.

On Saturday, CAMC re-implemented a no-visitor policy as West Virginia led the country with the highest rate of transmission for COVID-19.

The policy applies to emergency rooms and inpatients at all facilities run by CAMC, including CAMC General Hospital, CAMC Memorial Hospital, CAMC Teays Valley Hospital and CAMC Women and Children’s Hospital.

The no-visitor policy comes with limited exceptions, according to a news release, and end-of-life care visitation will be authorized on a case-by-case basis.

At Thursday’s meeting, Dr. Glenn Crotty, executive vice president of CAMC, said the hospital wasn’t yet concerned with having enough beds, but instead worried about having enough staff to operate its facilities as those with children navigate schooling and related risks of infection. These worries are exacerbated by a national nurse shortage that has led most hospitals to rely on contractors for nursing staff.

The state’s designated surge hospital, Saint Francis Hospital, in Charleston, has yet to be needed at its full capacity, but if cases continue to rise — especially in areas less able to provide care for COVID-19 patients — more people could be placed there, according to Dan Lauffer, president and CEO of Thomas Health System.

Children or families looking to use the CAMC Women and Children’s testing site will need a testing order. Results for tests run there should be reported in at least 48 hours, per the release.