Hundreds Show Up For Free COVID-19 Testing In Athens Co.< < Back to
ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Hundreds of people from Athens County and beyond walked, rode their bikes and drove to Athens High School Friday for free COVID-19 testing.
The pop-up testing site organized by the Ohio Department of Health provided an opportunity for testing outside of a doctor’s recommendation and without scheduling an appointment.
Ohio started organizing these testing sites in underserved areas in June. This is the first time a pop-up testing site was offered in Athens County.
Athens City-County Health Commissioner Dr. James Gaskell was on site. He said this will help them get a better understanding of COVID-19 numbers in the county beyond those who are symptomatic.
“This is an opportunity for us to discover who has asymptomatic coronavirus disease.”
Athens County had 356 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Friday.
Last month there was a 475 percent increase in cases authorities linked to 4th of July celebrations. July started with 37 confirmed total cases in the county and ended with 339.
At one point, Athens County was at risk of reaching the highest level on the Ohio Public Health Advisory System. This prompted Athens to be classified as a Level 3 Public Health Emergency.
Athens County was issued a face covering mandate by the state when it hit this level. The city of Athens issued its own mandate just days before.
In just a few weeks, the alert level was downgraded to “Yellow” or Level 1 on Thursday, only triggering one of the state’s seven indicators for risk.
Those who came to Athens High School Friday told WOUB they wanted the tests as an extra tool to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“You better know it if you got it or not,” said Dennis McClelland, who said he’s not worried about having the virus but will be traveling soon.
“I was exposed to COVID-19,” said Katherine McClelland. She did not want to expose her friend who had been hospitalized for cancer. McClelland was taking care of that friend’s dog.
Jenny Atkins arrived to the drive-through testing site with no symptoms, but she works with recently released prisoners at a halfway house. Even though prisoners are quarantined, she wanted to make sure she is not infected.
“You just never know.”
Gaskell said 504 people were tested Friday. They had the capacity to test 900 if needed.
The operation is financed by the Ohio Department of Health, supported by the local health department and run by the National Guard, who is in charge of the swabbing.
All tests will be processed in a state lab and people who were tested will get their results in 3 to 5 days.
People can check periodically for upcoming pop-up test sites in Ohio at ODH’s website. The next pop-up testing sites were scheduled for Saturday in Mount Vernon and Georgetown, Ohio.
Gaskell told WOUB Friday night that another testing will take place next Friday, August 14 again at Athens High School in The Plains from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
The DOH makes the following recommendations to protect yourself from illness:
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; dry hands with a clean towel or air dry hands.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are unavailable.
- Cover your mouth with a tissue or sleeve when sneezing or coughing. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with people who are sick.
Ohio’s coronavirus call center is open to answer questions from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily. The hotline number is 1-833-4-ASK-ODH or 1-833-427-5634. More information is available at coronavirus.ohio.gov.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Katherine McClelland’s friend was hospitalized due to COIVD-19. This has been corrected to state that her friend was hospitalized due to cancer.