Hundreds show up for free testing at county fairgrounds

People lining up inside the Montgomery county fairgrounds for free COVID-19 testing Tuesday.

Combined ShapeCaption
People lining up inside the Montgomery county fairgrounds for free COVID-19 testing Tuesday.

With post-Thanksgiving wave feared, health official says: ‘We’re out here today trying to limit that spread as much as possible.’

Free pop-up COVID-19 testing arrived Tuesday at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds at a time of great necessity, according to health officials who are attempting to slow the post-Thanksgiving spread.

“Right now there’s very high spread all across Montgomery County,” said Dan Suffoleto, spokesman for Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County, which offered the testing for area residents without an appointment or doctor recommendation. “There’s about a 19 percent positivity rate in Montgomery County, so we’re seeing a high number of cases.”

ExplorePHOTOS: COVID-19 tests draw more than 1,000 to fairgrounds

Suffoleto said, “It’s not just Montgomery County, it’s all across the state of Ohio and all across the country.”

Ohio reported more than 9,000 new cases Tuesday and set a record with 585 new daily hospitalizations.

Montgomery County last week went into purple or level 4, the highest in the state rating system.

The county’s current case rate increased 6% in the past two weeks from 1,268 on Nov. 16 to 1,345 cases per 100,000 on Monday , “indicating increased community spread,” Public Health said in a new report this week.

ExploreCoronavirus: Ohio sets record for daily hospitalizations

Montgomery County’s average daily COVID-19 case count was the highest it has been on Nov. 25 with 412 cases per day.

“People still need to take precautions, protect themselves, wear a mask, keep that distance from others and then wash your hands frequently,” Suffoleto said. “We need to work together to make this COVID go down as much as possible.”

While there’s no signs yet of a post-Thanksgiving surge, this coming week is when the county could see a wave of cases based on historical numbers after past holidays like Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day, Suffoleto said.

“There’s a 14-day incubation period, so in that time period, any time within there, is when you can be (COVID) positive, so we’re out here today trying to limit that spread as much as possible and let people know that they can protect themselves if they happen to have COVID,” he said.

Micah Jones, 26, of Dayton, said it took just 20 minutes to be processed and take the test. With the option offered of registering via smartphone, “everything moved pretty quickly,” he said.

The test was worth the trip, Jones said.

“I guess a lot of people say the test hurts a lot, but based on my experience, it didn’t hurt that bad,” he said. “Definitely a little uncomfortable but nothing that you can’t take for three or four seconds.’

More than 600 people had been tested during the afternoon, but officials still were totaling the final numbers Tuesday evening.

The testing is a way of ensuring safety at a time when people traveled for Thanksgiving or held gatherings despite warnings by Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery and other agencies not to do so, Suffoleto said.

The testing is important because many people are asymptomatic, he said. “They don’t have any symptoms, they don’t know they have COVID, but yet they’re spreading it,” Suffoleto said. “You could spread COVID anywhere you go and don’t know it.”

He said it is crucial that people keep up their vigilance at all times, something that can be particularly challenging to do around the holiday season.

“So we have significantly increased their vigilance, increased their mask wearing, increased their distancing, but they do that when they’re out,” he said. “But where they may lapse is when they’re at home, when they’re with family and friends, the neighbor comes over, the brother stops by. We still have to be vigilant at that time because we’re seeing spread within the home setting.”

Contact tracing is a challenge right now “because of the sheer numbers of it (COVID-19 cases),” Suffoleto said.

“It’s slowing us down a little bit because there’s two aspects to it,” he said. “There’s case investigation. That’s calling the person who’s sick. Then there’s the secondary part of contact tracing, when the sick person tells those people, then we contact trace those people, but we’re advising people now (that) as soon as you’re notified as being positive, don’t wait for the health department to contact you, you go ahead and contact people that you think were first contact, let them know the status, that way they get out ahead of the game.”

Montgomery County COVID-19 Outbreak and School Data as of Nov. 29

• Montgomery County had 88 COVID-19 outbreak investigations open at various long-term care facilities, businesses, and schools.

• Eleven outbreak investigations have opened in the past three weeks — 2 (18%) schools, 7 (64%) long-term care facilities, and 2 business (18%).

• Of the 6,956 current cases reported by Sunday, only 10% (672 cases) had been linked to an outbreak — indicating that most of the recent spread of COVID-19 has occurred in the community and not within institutions.

• Montgomery County has a total of 786 cases associated with schools (442 students, 344 staff). Of the 786 cases, 29% (230 cases — 161 students, 69 staff) were reported in the past week.

SOURCE: Public Health-Dayton & Montgomery County

About the Author