Coronavirus-testing tents pop up on Stanford campus and in Menlo Park | News | Palo Alto Online |


Coronavirus-testing tents pop up on Stanford campus and in Menlo Park

Medical organizations are adding outdoor facilities in anticipation of more people coming down with the virus

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A car pulls up to the Menlo Medical Clinic drive-through COVID-19 testing tent on Middlefield Road in Menlo Park on March 20. Signage around the lot indicates the testing site is run by Stanford Health Care. Photo by Magali Gauthier/The Almanac.

Stanford Health Care is gearing up for larger-scale testing of patients with COVID-19 symptoms, erecting tents on the Stanford University campus for use starting in the next few days, a spokeswoman said.

The additional testing capacity is in response to a growing need to identify COVID-19-positive patients as the virus spreads. Stanford Health Care has so far installed five large white tents and a cluster of smaller ones in its Galvez Street parking lot along Campus Drive, across from the Bing Concert Hall. The medical center has had a site at Hoover Pavilion running for at least one-and-a-half weeks.

"We're preparing to extend outpatient COVID-19 testing to the Galvez location for patients with a Stanford physician order," spokeswoman Lisa Kim said. "Patients may call Stanford Express Care at 650-498-9000 to schedule a video visit with a Stanford physician, who will evaluate and refer them for testing if needed. We'll provide more information in the coming days as details are finalized."

Last week, Menlo Medical Clinic also started a drive-thru clinic on Middlefield Road for COVID-19.

"They are currently taking scheduled Menlo (Clinic) patients based on certain clinical criteria. Again, they must have a physician's order to be tested," Kim said.

Jennifer Thrift, spokeswoman for El Camino Hospital, said the medical provider has tents constructed at its Mountain View and Los Gatos campuses. The tents are not currently in use.

"We continue to take proactive steps to ensure the safety of our patients, visitors and employees, and this includes preparing for the potential of a surge of patients," she said.

"The tents at both campuses will help ensure our ability to continue to care for patients in a safe environment," she said. The preparation "is in line with our scenario planning for dealing with infectious diseases, including treatment or recovery in isolated areas in compliance with CDC guidelines."

Other medical organizations, including Kaiser Permanente and Sutter/Palo Alto Medical Foundation, continue to triage patients and test them for COVID-19 when referred by a physician. Kaiser Redwood City has a yellow and blue tent in the roundabout area in front of its entrance, and Palo Alto Medical has placed a tent in a parking lot at the rear of its campus. In all cases, people who suspect they have COVID-19 are asked to contact their physicians by phone or through video conferences.

On Tuesday, Gov. Gavin Newsom said that the rate of testing is increasing across the state, albeit slowly. As of Tuesday, 27,650 tests had been conducted, which includes the latest numbers California has received from commercial and private labs. At least 15,554 results have been received and another 12,100 are pending, according to the governor's website. He plans to further address the testing issue on Wednesday in a press conference.

If you've used a drive-thru COVID-19 testing service, we'd like to hear about your experience. Send us an email at

Find comprehensive coverage on the Midpeninsula's response to the new coronavirus by Palo Alto Online, the Mountain View Voice and the Almanac here.


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23 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2020 at 9:31 am

Everyone needs to get tested. Most infected people are not experiencing severe symptoms, but they are still spreading the virus around. We cannot contain the virus until we identify and treat or quarantine everyone that is infected.

5 people like this
Posted by Trump fired the Pandemic Team
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 25, 2020 at 9:47 am

[Post removed.]

3 people like this
Posted by Mama
a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 25, 2020 at 11:26 am

Where on Middlefield in MP??

8 people like this
Posted by dtnorth
a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:05 pm

I agree I think more people need to be tested so we know to quarantine ourselves within our house. Is this available yet?

6 people like this
Posted by Trump fired the Pandemic Team
a resident of Evergreen Park
on Mar 25, 2020 at 12:52 pm

> I agree I think more people need to be tested

I also agree, as I stated above. As Americans, we should expect we can catch up to lil' ol' South Korea on testing.

Per capita testing as of this week:

South Koreans: 1-in-170
Americans: 1-in-1,090

Like this comment
Posted by South-Korea-Is-Not-The-US
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2020 at 2:22 pm

About 50% of SK (25M people) lives in the Seoul Metro Area.

3 people like this
Posted by Wise decision
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2020 at 3:27 pm

Wise decision to put up these tents in the county area of Stanford. Who knows what demands the city council and simitian would have made of stanford to grant a permit for the tents.

Like this comment
Posted by Andy
a resident of Stanford
on Mar 26, 2020 at 11:47 pm

On the picture, the workers are wearing protective gear. That is good.
Unfortunately, when I drove by the testing tents at Stanford today, the workers directing cars did not wear ANY protective gear (I did not see the test takers). Even though these great workers are not taking tests, they may be exposed in case somebody rolls down their window to ask for directions or help. We should be protecting them too!

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