A “Do Not Enter Without Appointment” sign at the entrance of South P lot. A mobile COVID-19 testing center will be available to patients on March 18. GARY GHAYRAT/THE STATESMAN

The mobile COVID-19 testing center in South P lot started taking patients at noon on Wednesday, March 18, according to a state official.

New York residents who feel they need to be tested for the coronavirus must call 888-364-3065 to make an appointment in advance.

“If you have symptoms or may have come in contact with someone who tested positive for #coronavirus and want [to] schedule an appointment, call the New York State Department of Health,” Suffolk County Executive, Steve Bellone, wrote on Facebook. “A healthcare professional will determine if testing is needed and, if so, an appointment will be scheduled.”

Patient numbers for today haven’t been finalized yet, but Colin Brennan, director of communications for the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, compared the size of the site to the one in New Rochelle, which opened March 13.

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The New Rochelle site tested up to 200 people on its first day, according to a press release from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s website. The New York Times reported that the site in New Rochelle tested 1,882 people in its first four days of operation.

“New Yorkers who want to get tested have to call that 888 number — it’s the same hotline to get a reservation at any of the other testing sites,” Brennan said on a call with The Statesman. “All you have to do is call that and there will be someone to guide you through.”

He emphasized that residents should not show up without an appointment.

Patients who have been approved to be sampled will have their noses and mouths swabbed. They should receive a call with their results within 48 to 72 hours.

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The South P testing site was supposed to start running on Tuesday, March 17, according to an email from the Three Village Civic Association, but was delayed after there was a swab shortage.

As of March 18, Suffolk County is facing 116 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to the New York State Department of Health. Cuomo confirmed more than a thousand additional cases on Wednesday, bringing the state total to 2,382 confirmed cases.

Suffolk County residents interested in regular SMS text updates on the latest COVID-19 developments should text COVIDSUFFOLK to 67283.

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