Two years before, and you may have thought a movie crew was filming a scene for a sci-fi contagion thriller.
Worried people behind the wheel, steering and snaking their cars into the parking lot of medical facility.
Workers, outfitted in full protective gear, walking up to administer a test that could – really, and literally – carry matters of life and death.
Schools shuttered, workplaces closed.
People sequestered indoors, with sickness and death topping the media menu of the day.
Infection rates and Harvard metrics.
Or, Mountain State tweaks of Harvard metrics.
Thing is, all of the above wasn’t a depiction.
It was real.
Call it a day in the life of a parking lot-turned COVID-19 testing facility.
And, as you’re reading this, the scene is still unspooling.
Today is the first anniversary of that effort in parking lot of the WVU Medicine Outpatient Center at University Town Centre, just down from Star City.
“Well, we actually had a ‘dry run’ on St. Patrick’s Day in March 2020,” Mary Fanning said Wednesday.
“And we’ve been going ever since.”
Fanning is a longtime nursing administrator for WVU medicine, serving the organization as an assistant vice president and chief nursing officer.
She joined the university 38 years ago a newly minted nurse, tending to patients in the former WVU Medical Center, which was later reborn as the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center.
That was before the first girders were put into place at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital.
That was before the WVU Eye Institute went up next door and the first bricks were arrayed for the Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute.
It was before Morgantown benefactor Betty Puskar’s name was put on the wall of the facility of breast cancer treatment center and research center that continues her legacy.
Back then, doctors and nurses might worry about a tenacious flu bug hitting a town or region. (Children and grandparents, you know).
But a full-on pandemic?
Something called a coronavirus?
“I’m getting close to the end of my career,” she said, “and I never thought I’d be spending that time doing something like this,” she said.
What she did, was help organize the WVU Medicine testing effort for COVID.
Fanning put some numbers together Wednesday to illustrate that reach, giving a March-to-March of the COVID doings of that certain parking lot in a certain bustling commercial strip.
Punching the clock, with pandemic workers
Herewith, the snapshot:
Total swabs completed from March 2020 until now: 23,724.
Highest number of swabs in one day: 332, on July 6.
Lowest number of swabs in one day: 18, of Feb. 18.
Highest number of swabs in one hour: 41.5, also on July 6.
Average number of swabs in an hour: 12.03.
Average number of swabs in a day: 76.55.
Month with highest number of average swabs in a day: December, with 138.13.
Month with the second-highest number of average swabs in a day: July, with 132.89.
Month with lowest-number of average swabs in a day: March, with 51.79.
It was Easter before anyone got a day off, Fanning said.
“Seven days a week,” she said, “because we had to.”
Same for the ongoing work, she said.
“We’re here for people and families,” she said.
‘One patient at a time’
Across town Evansdale, David Goldberg, the president and CEO of Morgantown-based Mon Health System agrees.
“Although COVID-19 is still a significant part of our lives, we have witnessed countless moments of hope, resilience, and healing,” he said in a statement.
“We came together during a challenging time, embraced our values, and continued to do the important work that we are all called upon to do in pursuit of our mission to enhance the health of our communities we serve, one patient at a time.”
Mon Health administered its first COVID test on March 10, 2020, he said. Its first drive-through testing facility opened 10 days later.
In the year since, Mon Health has conducted 41,634 tests for the coronavirus at its facilities across its system while handing out more than 250,000 facemasks.