Mercy Med mass COVID testing event takes more than 1,200 samples over four days


The organizers of a mass COVID-19 testing site hoped to test more than a 1,000 people over four days.

They exceeded their goal. The testing, which started on Friday and concluded Monday afternoon tested 1,243 people. Monday was by far the busiest day with 426 people being tested.

The event was coordinated by Mercy Med and held at Cascade Hills Church in North Columbus.

“I think we have created access to a testing site for people that are in need of understanding if they are a carrier or are positive for COVID,” said Mercy Med Director of Development Billy Holbrook. “So, we have accomplished that. And our goal — we felt like this was time-sensitive, urgent. And our goal was to try to identify as many COVID-positive patients as possible.”

And the testing will drive the number of cases in Columbus and surrounding counties up, Mayor Skip Henderson said.

Currently, there are 40 cases in Muscogee County. Open testing did not start until three weeks ago. In the last four days, about four times as many people were tested as had been tested in the previous three weeks.

The previous test being conducted by the West Central Georgia Health District and Mercy Med had tighter requirements on who could be tested. There were few rules on the four-day open testing. Mercy Med allowed people with a fever, cough or contact with a COVID-19 patient, access to a test.

All a person had to do was give a thumbs up to one of the three criteria and they moved down the testing line.

More than 200 of those tested live in Alabama. In the previous testing by the West Central Health District and Mercy Med, Alabama residents were excluded.

The Mercy Med testing was a community-wide effort that included hundreds of volunteers. And for four days it ran like a well-oiled machine.

“This is a community effort, a community organization,” said Jared Wise, a Columbus Realtor who volunteered for the event. “There’s a lot of great providers and volunteers out here trying to make sure that our community stays as safe as possible.”

Wise said the people he saw in the vehicles just wanted answers.

“I think you were seeing some general fear,” he said. “Fear about the test results coming back And general fear about the test. It doesn’t seem to be very comfortable. A lot of relief. And a lot of thankful people because Mercy Med was able to put this on for the community.”

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