After 50,000 tests, Watertown’s hospital closing COVID testing site

Published: Mar. 29, 2023 at 5:22 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - After 3 years of swabbing for sickness, Jefferson County’s longest-running drive-up COVID testing site is shutting down.

“At this point, there isn’t the need to and, quite honestly, most of the results have been coming back negative,” said Leslie DiStefano, director of communication and public relations at Samaritan Medical Center.

As COVID cases continue to decline, the state has loosened up on guidelines. On Saturday Samaritan will drop its testing requirement for outpatient surgical procedures. Those receiving inpatient care post-surgery will still have to be tested.

“We are optimistically cautious but we are excited about the changes,” said DiStefano.

Samaritan is taking a staggered approach towards its COVID policy. Distefano says restrictions will continue to loosen over time as long as cases stay down.

“I think as a health care system we have to be as safe as possible and this is what we’re trying to do,” said DiStefano.

As for the workers manning the station, she said, “They’ve all been placed in other open positions in the health care system. They’re all staying with Samaritan so it’s very exciting.

Over the past 3 years, the site has conducted nearly 50,000 COVID tests. Now that it’s shutting down. DiStefano says it feels like the end of an era.

“It’s interesting to watch it close after 3 full years of operation and being the first drive-up testing location in Jefferson County,” she said.

Despite the shakeup to testing regulations, DiStefano says all planned procedures will continue as scheduled.