WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS, Ohio (WJW) — Testing for COVID-19 has been going on in the Cleveland area almost since the pandemic began.
But on Thursday, the testing will finally leave the hospital.
The Cuyahoga County Board of Health is partnering with The Word Church in Warrensville Heights to take testing directly to one of the area’s most vulnerable populations.
“There has been no community testing in the Cleveland area, period,” pastor R. A. Vernon says.
He says direct community testing has been done in many other parts of the country but this is the first time it’s being attempted here in Cleveland.
Testing will be limited to 150 people who pre-registered with the county health department, so that means no walk-ups.
It will also be limited to people who are over the age of 65 who may be showing symptoms.
Vernon says by bringing the testing to Warrensville Heights it will help people who might not be able to go to a hospital for a test or have other economic issues that prevent them from seeing a doctor.
“I think it’s ambiguous — do you have to have medical insurance; do you have to have an appointment,” Vernon says. “There has been no community testing in particularly black and brown communities where we know disproportionately, because of preexisting conditions, we’ve been targeted by this pandemic.”
And community-based testing is increasingly important for many reasons.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, African Americans make up roughly 13 percent of the U.S. population, but account for 27% of all COVID-19 deaths.
In a study of deaths in one of the hardest hit areas, New York City, per 100,000 in population, the number of African Americans who died was almost double the number of whites and Asians.
Many medical experts say that testing is one of the keys to stopping the spread of COVID-19, and in minority communities it can help save a lot of lives.
“I think it’s time to get to a place, and I know it’s a challenge, that anyone can get tested. I know there’s a point with limited tests and things of that nature, but we’ve got to get going with this,” Vernon says.
Registration for the COVID-19 testing at The Word Church has closed, and all of the slots are filled.
Testing begins for pre-registered participants at 9 a.m. Thursday.