A local church is promoting drive-thru testing for COVID-19 for seniors over the age of 60 who have a chronic medical condition and are experiencing symptoms of the coronavirus.
Word of Faith pastor Ben Harp said the church, located at 2007 Ky. 58 East, will be hosting testing for the coronavirus disease Monday for people 60 or older who meet the criteria and also register in advance.
Registration is through Word of Faith’s website (www.wofmayfield.org). Those who sign up can follow prompts to fill out the questionnaire, symptom list and time for testing then submit them. Within 24 hours, they will receive a time appointment between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Harp said pre-registration is needed because of limited availability of test kits. “And we have no idea what the demand might be,” he added.
Harp, who works for National Wound Care in Illinois, said he had been in contact with the Graves County Health Department and are matching their requirements for testing. While Graves’ health department director Noel Coplen said they can’t endorse the drive-thru testing, he appreciates anything done for the community.
“There’s been a lot of generosity in the community in the last several weeks and I appreciate it,” Coplen said.
According to Harp, a legal physician verbal order is required to perform the test.
The process, he explained, will consist of people driving into the church’s parking lot, where they will be checked in for their registered appointment. As a licensed health care professional, Harp said he would administer the nasal swabs, and being an outreach ministry of the church, volunteers will also pray for those tested.
The swabs will be packaged and overnighted to Healix Pathology in Denver. Results then would be communicated to the primary care physicians of those who were tested in 1-2 days.
Harp said they are abiding by current Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Those registered to be tested are required to have a fever. A temperature check will be taken on site before the test is administered.
After the pilot run Monday, Harp said they hope to expand it from Mayfield and Graves County residents to others and possibly additional days during the week.
He did note that they are limiting church volunteers to eliminate a greater risk for exposure to some illness.
“Everyone will be sick with something,” he said. “We’re going to be extremely skeletal to minimize exposure.”
With future testing and potentially larger test availability, he said a few churches have been contacted to offer volunteer assistance if needed.
There are currently no confirmed cases in Graves County, but local officials and institutions continue to push proactivity. According to Graves County Emergency Management Director Tracy Warner, West Kentucky Community and Technical College has donated all of its personal protective equipment (PPE) to area hospitals, including Jackson Purchase Medical Center.
During Thursday’s Emergency Operations Center teleconference with local leaders, she added that they’d also received more PPE from the state and if anyone wishes to donate more, they can call the EOC at 270-727-5114.
Coplen also said on the teleconference he and Kentucky Public Health Commissioner Dr. Steven Stack were discussing the lack of appreciation over the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation.
“I don’t think you can get the message out there enough,” Coplen said.
He added that he knows a lot of people have lost their jobs and a lot more probably will before the outbreak subsides.
“It makes me sick thinking about it,” he said.