State begins second weekend of open coronavirus testing

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state hopes to turnaround test results in 24 to 48 hours from free and open two-day coronavirus testing events that began Friday in four counties.

It’s second weekend of the events that target minority residents and vulnerable communities is taking place in 10 counties. Several state agencies including the Herbert H. Henderson Office of Minority Affairs, the state DHHR and National Guard are working with local county health departments in the drive-thru events that run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

The testing is open to everyone. You don’t have to have symptoms of the virus. Identification is required.

Dr. Sherri Young

Testing took place last week in Berkeley, Jefferson, Raleigh and Mercer counties. This Friday and Saturday in Kanawha, Cabell, Marion and Monongalia counties. The efforts next week return to Kanawha County along with events in Fayette and Mineral counties.

Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Executive Director Dr. Sherri Young said more than 100 people were tested in the first hour of Friday’s event in Charleston. She said the open events give assurances and peace of mind.

“A lot of people have had a lot of fear about Covid. People want to know (if they have it) before they go back into the community as more things are opening up. This is our opportunity to test the community and make sure we’re healthy and ready to go back,” Young said.

The DHHR said 2,388 people were tested in last weekend’s events including 872 in Berkeley County; 748 in Jefferson County; 364 in Mercer County; and 404 in Raleigh County. The testing uncovered a spike of new cases in Berkeley and Jefferson counties that caused Gov. Jim Justice to send the National Guard back to that area of the state.

Berkeley-Morgan County Health Department Director Bill Kearns said Friday on MetroNews “Talkline” there are going to be more testing events coming to the Eastern Panhandle.

Young said testing will continue to be with us for the foreseeable future.

“We do anticipate there could be a second wave in the fall and as we open up we are starting to see numbers go up in some places. So testing is going to have to be part of the new normal,” Young said.

Kanawha County has had 11 drive-thru testing events in recent weeks with more than 1,200 people tested.

The test results are expected to be back within 24-48 hours.

The Friday and Saturday locations:

— 16th Street Baptist Church, 1647 9th Ave. in Huntington.
— Schoenbaum Family Enrichment Center, 1701 5th Ave. in Charleston.
— Windmill Park, 900 Ogden Ave. in Fairmont.
— Big Lots, 902 Fairmont Road in Morgantown on Friday only.
— WVU Coliseum, 3450 Monongahela Blvd. in Morgantown on Saturday only.
— Mountainview Elementary School, 661 Green Bag Road in Morgantown on Saturday only.

The state Department of Health and Human Resources Friday morning there have now been nearly 85,000 total coronavirus tests in West Virginia since early March and 1,616 of those have come back as confirmed cases.

The state’s positive test rate was 1.91 percent Friday morning. There have been 71 COVID-19 deaths in the Mountain State.

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