VENICE — The first drive-thru testing program in Venice for COVID-19 took place Thursday.

The Sarasota County Department of Health crew handled 102 appointments and at least seven walk-ins.

Kent Macci, supervisor with the Department of Health in Sarasota, ran the operation while police cruisers were stationed at the Nokomis Avenue entrance.

The Venice City Council requested the testing for the city’s “unique” population.

Officials said there will be two more dates set for more testing within Venice city limits as well.

On Thursday, vehicles were waved in by staff in orange safety vests, winding through the Venice Community Center parking lot before coming to a mobile health unit operated by Sarasota County.

“It’s set up exactly like going to a regular medical appoint,” Macci said. “Checkpoint A is where you check in to confirm your appointment and provide identification. Checkpoint B is basically the waiting room. Finally, each car moves up to the mobile testing site where the patient is swabbed.”

He said it’s open to the public for first responders or people working in the medical field.

“We encourage walk-ups. If they feel they have an issue and meet the guidelines to be tested, we work them into the schedule,” Macci said.

There will be two more by-appointment-only COVID-19 drive-thru testing opportunities for Sarasota County residents in Venice next week, at the same Venice Community Center location.

The testing will be from 8 a.m. to noon on Wednesday and Thursday.

To make an appointment, call 941-861-2883.

DOH Sarasota will be closed Monday in recognition of Memorial Day.

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