Mercy Med mass testing event confirms nearly 200 new COVID-19 cases in Columbus region


As expected the mass COVID-19 testing of Columbus-area residents earlier this month drove the number of cases up over the last week.

There are now 161 confirmed cases in Muscogee County and 95 of those were detected during the four-day open testing April 3-6. On the day before the Mercy Med testing began, the Georgia Department of Public Health listed 26 confirmed cases in Muscogee County.

Here’s what the numbers from the Mercy Med open testing show:

— 1,243 people were tested and nearly 15 percent or 186 of those were positive.That compares with the state of Georgia data that shows about 23 percent of the 54,453 people tested in the state have been positive.

— 685 people tested lived in Muscogee County and 13.8 percent of those tested positive.

— 123 people tested lived in Harris County and 15.4 percent of those tested positive.

— 112 people tested lived in other Georgia counties and 13.3 percent of those tested positive.

— 283 people tested lived in Lee and Russell counties in Alabama and 17 percent of those tested positive.

— 36 of those lived in other Alabama counties and 22 percent of those tested positive.

The drive-through event was held at Cascade Hills Church off J.R. Allen Parkway. The criteria to be tested was not as strict as what the West Central Health District required before the mass testing event. There had been about 350 people tested at drive through sites run by the West Central Health District and Mercy Med through April 2.

A person wanting to be tested had to meet one of three criteria:

— Have a fever.

— Have a persistent cough

— Been in contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19 or was suspected to have the virus.

MercyMed Director of Development Billy Holbrook said the goal of the mass testing was multifaceted.

“It was to screen and test residents for COVID-19 to decrease the risk of continual community transmission,” he said in a news release. “To improve quarantining measures; protect others in the community from those who test positive; decrease the burden on local hospitals by slowing transmission; look for trends of data.”

Mercy Med, and its physicians Dr. Grant Scarborough and Dr. Joyce Kim are now treating a number of the outpatients who tested positive for the virus.

“MercyMed is now focused on providing ongoing care to patients who tested positive from this event,” Holbrook said. “For positive patients who opted-in, MercyMed has a care team in place to evaluate and monitor their health.”

The results of the mass testing event reiterate the importance of social distancing, and compliance with guidance from CDC to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, Holbrook said.

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