In the first day of community-wide COVID-19 testing in Columbus, nearly 281 people had taken advantage of the opportunity by end of day on Friday.
Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson knows as this four-day process plays out, the result is going to be that the number of COVID-19 cases in Muscogee County rises. Currently, there are 30 confirmed cases, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health.
“The statistics in Georgia have held pretty true that about 21 percent of those testing have tested positive,” Henderson said. “If you do that math, that’s an awful lot of positives. I think the important thing to remember is while the positive diagnosis gives us data, those folks are walking around right now with it.”
Mercy Med, a non-profit Columbus medical clinic, is doing community-wide COVID-19 testing. They have a commitment from a private lab to process as many test as they can do between now and Monday.
This testing is open to anyone in the area who meets one or more of three criteria.
— Running a fever.
— Persistent cough.
— Has been in contact with anyone who has the COVID-19 or is suspected of having the virus.
It closes at 6 p.m. Friday. And is open from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday; 1 p.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday; and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. on Monday. All of the testing is being done at Cascade Hills Church off J.R. Allen Parkway. There are signs on 54th Street directing people to and through the site.
No appointment is necessary. They are testing people from Alabama and Georgia.
Dr. Grant Scarborough, founder and CEO of Mercy Med, said this testing will answer a lot of questions.
“We’re still wondering in Columbus what’s really out there,” Scarborough said. “The reality is all the numbers we are seeing now is probably from a week ago. They’re not from the very day it happened. I feel like this will just let us know what’s going on in the community. And hopefully it’ll let us know how serious it is. This is much worse than the flu. This is a serious disease that’s causing a lot of bad outcomes.”
Henderson said if you test at the Mercy Med site, you should go into self-quarantine.
“It’s a very simple premise,” he said. “If you are sick enough that you need a test, you are sick enough that you need to stay home.”
Drive through testing started nearly three weeks ago in Columbus. They did almost as many tests today as were done since March 16th. The total of drive-through tests by the West Central Georgia Health District and Mercy Med since March 16 is about 300.
Scarborough understands the anxiety that comes with this.
“If I was being really honest … I would say that I have actually been a little anxious on how to deal with some of this,” he said. “Knowing, ‘Wow this is real.’ We see in the national news that young folks are dying who have families. So, there is some anxiety for me. I’ll try to trust in the Lord and know he’s for me, that I’m doing his work good or bad outcomes. To me, I’m safe in here but there’s definitely some anxiety.”