ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Presbyterian Hospital’s westside drive-thru testing location has been seeing more people than the area can handle. Now, they have moved their operation to Balloon Fiesta Park.

Most people in Albuquerque are used to seeing Balloon Fiesta Park, filled with balloons. Starting Monday, March 23 it’ll be used as a makeshift health facility.

“Move our current COVID-19 testing site from the Coors PresNow to Balloon Fiesta Park,” says Communications Director for Presbyterian, Melanie Mozes.

Testing started at 9 a.m. on Monday and after a week of thousands of people showing up to the PresNow westside location, lines at Balloon Fiesta Park are a lot shorter. Within the first hour of KRQE News 13’s crew arriving at the park, they saw about 100 cars line up to get tested for coronavirus.

However, the line didn’t last long as hospital staff was able to get through the line pretty quickly. One person who showed up to get tested on Monday tells KRQE News 13 she’s surprised there’s not much of a wait and is thankful because she wants to know if she has it as soon as possible.

The relatively empty lot at Balloon Fiesta is a big difference from last week when Presbyterian held a drive-thru test site at their Coors and Western Trail location. In just a week, they saw more than 3,800 people show up and tested 1,800 of them.

“Due to the expansive nature of the park, we’re going to be able to do better traffic flow. Whereas our other facility was for a much smaller, couple hundred,” says Mozes.

Officials say while the Balloon Fiesta Park location is bigger, it doesn’t allow them to test more people. However, it’s easier to get to and there won’t be traffic snaking through neighborhoods. This test site will only stay open until 7 p.m. on Monday, March 23 or until they run out of tests.

Presbyterian staff and the Department of Health encourage people to first get screened online or through the state’s hotline, before driving to the test sites. With a shortage of tests they will only test those showing symptoms of COVID-19 or if they’ve had close contact with someone who has tested positive.

The city has specific directions for people who plan to go to Balloon Fiesta Park to get tested. All traffic should enter the park through one of the following routes:

From Roy Ave or Tramway:

  • Roy or Tramway to I-25 Frontage Road south
  • West on Balloon Fiesta Parkway to Balloon Fiesta Park.

From I-25:

  • I-25 to Tramway exit
  • South on I-25 Frontage Road
  • West on Balloon Fiesta Parkway to Balloon Fiesta Park.

Balloon Museum Drive will be closed to northbound traffic from Alameda Blvd and drivers should not use San Mateo Blvd north of Alameda Blvd.