By Kristina Rex

WELLESLEY (CBS) – As health experts figure out how to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Massachusetts, they’re getting creative – finding ways for patients to get tested for the virus without ever stepping foot in the hospital.

Hazmat-style tents have popped up at several area hospitals, including South Shore Health in Weymouth, UMass Memorial in Worcester, and Newton-Wellesley Hospital. The tents are designed to limit contact between suspected coronavirus patients and other people.

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At Newton-Wellesley, doctors refer to the testing site as “drive through testing.” Patients who suspect they have coronavirus are asked to call their doctors – NOT to visit the hospital – and if they’re deemed appropriate for testing, they schedule an appointment with the hospital.

Tent outside Newton-Wellesley Hospital for coronavirus testing (WBZ-TV)

They then pull up in their car near the Emergency Room, and a physician meets them at the tents just feet away. The test is a swab up the patient’s nose, which is then delivered to a lab with results coming back in 24-48 hours.

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The state is receiving materials from the federal government to test some 5,000 new people, according to the Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services, Marylou Sudders. In addition, automated testing has been approved by the CDC and will allow the state to double its daily testing, from 200 to 400.

Tent outside South Shore Hospital in Weymouth (WBZ-TV)

Once patients leave a testing tent, they are required to quarantine themselves at home as they await their results.

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“The DPH has widened the people that are able to be tested,” said Dr. Jodi Larson of Newton-Wellesley Hospital. “That’s going to open the floodgates for patients that think they’re appropriate for testing. So we’re ramping up for that.”

Kristina Rex