The Fairfield Community Center in Lancaster hosted a free COVID-19 testing site sponsored by the National Guard and the local Department of Health. (Claudia Cisneros | WOUB)

Ohio Begins Free “Pop-Up” COVID-19 Testing

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LANCASTER, Ohio (WOUB) —The State of Ohio is now offering free COVID-19 testing for individuals, even if they don’t have symptoms or a referral from a doctor.

According to Ohio Department of Health these testing opportunities are in response to the report released by the state’s  Minority Health Strike Force regarding testing access in communities of color and in other high-risk or underserved regions.

Cars await their turn. Over 400 people showed up at the pop-up COVID-19 testing site in Lancaster on Thursday. (Claudia Cisneros | WOUB)

On Thursday, cars lined the parking lot of Lancaster’s South Elementary School to access the “pop-up” test site.

Jon Kochis, Director of Emergency Management for Fairfield County, says the idea is to test as many people as possible at no cost for them “and probably for the first time in our community, a testing [site] where you don’t have to have symptoms, where you don’t have to have doctor’s order. This is kind of the first availability in our area.”

Several tents were set up to allow staff from the Fairfield Community Center, the National Guard, and the local Department of Health to conduct the nasal swabs. All of the staff wore personal protective equipment like masks, face shields, gowns and gloves.

According to Kochis, more than 400 people were tested within seven hours. Most of the participants were senior citizens, one of the high-risk groups for COVID-19’s worst outcomes.

An older man, who preferred to remain anonymous, stopped by after his son told him about the free tests. He wasn’t feeling sick and didn’t have any pre-existing illnesses but he just wanted to “make sure” and was pleased he did not need a doctor’s order.  “I like it. It should’ve been like this when it (COVID-19) first started.”

The National Guard provided 400 nasal swab COVID-19 testing kits and the local Department of Health another 300. (Claudia Cisneros | WOUB)

A couple in their twenties, Madison Conrad and Taylor Ball drove in to get tested together. “We came here because she has a client that she deals with that just tested positive for it,” said Ball.

Madison is an esthetician and said her last client tested positive about a week ago and she wants to make sure before taking more clients.

“I think it’s really nice because a lot of places you have to either have a fever or have traveled internationally recently so it’s nice that you can just come here even if you just have a suspicion that you might have it.”

A woman in her fifties – who preferred not to share her name- said she wanted to get tested because she is a respirator specialist who works with ventilators.

“I work in a local hospital and I’ve been taking care of COVID-19 patients, so I was just curious if I had COVID-19.” Since she did not have any symptoms she has not been tested in her workplace.

A mother and her son said they had tested positive last month and wanted to know if they were cured so they are cleared to get back to work, as the pandemic has strained their incomes.

“We tested positive on the 7th of May. We want to get tested so we can go back to work at the nursing home in Canal Winchester.”

A young man said he read about the pop-up testing on Facebook and said although he’s healthy, he wants to be safe “I have a family member who’s at high risk and I work in a restaurant, so I’m just trying to make sure.”

The nasal swabs are said to be uncomfortable because a swab is inserted deep inside each nasal cavity. The tests will be sent out to the Department of Health laboratory in Columbus for processing and people should have the results in one to three days.

Even though most of the people who showed up for the pop-up COVID-19 testing were not ill, they had specific reasons to be worried. Taylor Ball’s girlfriend,  Madison Conrad (driver) has a client who recently tested positive for coronavirus. (Claudia Cisneros | WOUB)


For detailed information on upcoming pop-up testing sites you can visit the DOH’s web page. .

You can also see the map with all the Ohio testing sites, here.