HOOVER, Ala. (WIAT) – As cases of COVID-19 continue to surge in our communities, the Jefferson County Department of Health opened a COVID-19 drive-thru testing site this week on Tuesday. It says it has capacity for up to 100 tests per hour, and it is providing saliva tests instead of the nasal swab.

The health department is testing using a Yale saliva PCR test, it said, with results in 24 to 48 hours.

CBS 42’s Jen Cardone went out on Wednesday to check out the process for administering a saliva test at the Hoover Metropolitan Complex. She had no symptoms before taking the test.

Deputy Health Officer Dr. David Hicks said the department opened the Hoover site after seeing COVID case increases of over 200 percent each week over the past few weeks. Area hospitals had asked people to stop getting tested in the emergency room, and there have been nationwide shortages of at-home tests.

“The researchers at Yale developed this saliva test and have proved that you can pick up a significant amount of COVID through someone’s saliva,” Hicks said.

According to Hicks, there is research being conducted right now where it is possible a saliva test could detect the Omicron variant more quickly than a nasal swab.

“It’s just another way to get it done,” Hicks said. “Don’t think you’re getting anything less or more, it’s just a different way to get it done.”

When you pull up you are asked for a confirmation code if you preregistered. You are encouraged to do so, otherwise you will be greeted by paperwork on your phone that could have been completed ahead of time.

After completing the paperwork, a health official will give you an explanation of the process before you drive up and provide your saliva sample.

Under the tent, you are given a bag with a funnel and small collection tube. It took Cardone just under two minutes to be able to fill up to a red line on the container. She said it was a bit more taxing to do than she had originally thought.

Jen Cardone’s test results.

Cardone said this collection method was much less invasive than the nasal swab.

The health department said results would be available within 24 to 48 hours.

Cardone received results about 32 hours after taking the test.

You are encouraged to preregister before heading out to the Hoover Met, but no appointment is required. Insurance is accepted but not required to get a test.

The site is operated by Easy Testing and has similar sites in Baldwin County and Monroe County.

The drive-thru site is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For questions about the testing site, you are asked to contact the Jefferson County COVID Information Call Center at 205-858-2221.