BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A new invention is giving health care providers the ability to test patients for COVID 19 without risking their own health.

Mobile testing sites have been developed thanks to students at staff at the University of Maryland’s Mechanical Engineering department in collaboration with Johns Hopkins University and the Robert Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices.

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Each unit only weighs about 200 pounds. They’re made mostly out of acrylic and aluminum so they can easily be loaded into the back of a truck and taken anywhere, according to UMD assistant professor Axel Krieger.

The science inside the booth helps keep the provider safe.

“The healthcare provider is inside the booth under a filter system with positive pressure so none of the aerosols can enter the booth,” Krieger said.

Students put AC units in the booths so they can be used in the summer months without becoming too uncomfortable for the provider.

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The prototype booth was deployed to the drive-thru testing site at Johns Hopkins Bayview and ten patients were tested for COVID 19. Krieger called the trial run a success.

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“We swabbed the booth on the inside for virus before testing, and after and thankfully there were no traces of virus inside booth after testing,” Krieger said.

Each booth has a price tag of $3,000 and more are being made. Three will be sent to the city of Baltimore for use and Johns Hopkins will use two more. All five should be completed by the end of the month, Krieger said.

The safety of the air inside the booth will cut down on PPE costs.

“You really don’t need PPE inside the booth so its cost-saving but also less risk, and it’s such a scarce resource anyway,” Kreiger said.

The teamwork that made the new invention possible is what Krieger is most proud of.

“Many bright people who want to help and the traditional barriers in research are being broken down and everybody collaborates and helps and pitches in,” he said.

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For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Rachael Cardin