More than 2,200 people were tested for the coronavirus at pop-up sites in Dayton and Xenia this week.
Dayton-based Five Rivers Health Centers, Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio National Guard coordinated the two events, working with the Minority Health Strike Force.
In Xenia, while testing didn’t start until 9 a.m. Wednesday, the cars started to line up at 6:45 a.m. and in total 975 patients were served, said Gina McFarlane-El, CEO of Five Rivers Health Centers. In Dayton, 1,317 people were tested. Speaking Thursday afternoon at the Dayton testing site, she said they had the capacity for about 1,500 patient tests that day, and were also giving away 200 kits with masks and hand sanitizer from the governor’s office.
“We’re just honored to serve the patients of this community,” McFarlane-El said.
The testing sites had both drive-through lanes and walk-up testing to be accessible to everyone.
“We wanted to make sure that we have access right on a bus line and wanted to prepare for both modes of transportation. Some of us use our feet. Some of us have a car. And all are welcome,” McFarlane-El said.
Five River Health Centers is one of Ohio’s federally-qualified health centers, which have been driving much of the increased testing in the state. The centers cater to the low income and uninsured. Along with providing testing, community health centers have been encouraging patients to make a long-term connection with a primary care provider.
Case counts and COVID-19 hospitalizations have been ticking up in the region, and the DeWine administration has been working to ramp up testing to cut off chains of transmission.
Ohio Department of Health reported June 25 that 10,250 new tests were recorded in the last 24 hours.
Along with increased testing, public health officials have said that as the economy continues to reopen, it’s critical to take precautions such as wearing masks, keeping at least six feet of space from others and avoiding crowds.
The Dayton testing event also drew out Mayor Nan Whaley, who received a test to show the importance of people getting testing, including because there are signs of increased spread of the novel coronavirus in the area and increased hospitalizations.
Whaley said those who have been around a lot of people, who have symptoms or who have been around people who have tested positive for COVID-19 can now get tested. For testing options and future pop-ups, check coronavirus.ohio.gov.
“These sites are really helpful and there’s no cost,” Whaley said.
Testing helps infectious people know they need to isolate, which helps prevent smaller outbreaks from becoming larger outbreaks.
The 892 new positive tests reported by Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday marked an 80% increase over the 21-day average of 494, and the numbers are believed to reflect both increase testing and increased spread.
While local hospital data is not posted by Ohio Department of Health, on Friday, 624 Ohioans were hospitalized from COVID-19, 206 in the ICU and 121 on a ventilator. Two weeks prior, 529 Ohioans were hospitalized from COVID-19, 234 were in the ICU and 154 were on a ventilator.
In the background of Ohio’s effort to monitor for cases and stamp out sparks of outbreaks, other parts of the country such as Arizona and Texas have been seeing larger surging outbreaks that are rapidly filling hospital beds and disrupting their economies.
After getting tested, Whaley emphasized the importance of not just testing but prevention measures such as wearing masks in order to prevent spread and save lives.
“And when we wear masks, we will keep the economy open. What would be terrible is if we don’t wear the masks and then we have to shut stuff down,” Whaley said.
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