'It is taking out our community': Leaders organize free COVID-19 testing for underserved communities

Coronavirus-related crimes capitalize on global fear, panic
Posted at 5:50 PM, May 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-12 07:43:03-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - The news that someone in Cedricka Mayo's apartment complex tested positive for COVID-19 has her worried.

“My dad, he’s a diabetic. He has other health issues and If I get sick, that can affect him,” Mayo adds.

She thought about getting tested for the coronavirus, but then she remembered her daughter's unfortunate experience.

“My oldest daughter went twice and got denied. They said this is the season that people are coughing and sneezing and it’s not all corona,” said Mayo.

Because of stories just like Mayo’s, the Urban League of Hampton Roads and the Chesapeake Health Department are turning the area at MacDonald Manor into a pop-up COVID-19 testing site. The one thing you don’t have to have is symptoms.

“It’s not based on symptoms; it's encouraging people in the minority population and where we know zip code identification in the hospital is telling us we need to go,” said Dr. Nancy Welch with the Chesapeake Health District.

She says when the virus first hit Virginia, testing was a difficult.

“There has been a tremendous limitation on testing, and that has meant that only if you had symptoms,” adds Dr. Welch.

That’s changing thanks to the community partnership with the urban league and Chesapeake Regional Healthcare. They have about 200 tests ready to go.

“This is hitting us at a disproportionate rate! It’s significant. It is taking out our community,” said James Bibbs.

Bibbs is the chairman of the Urban League of Hampton Roads, and he's encouraging people to come out and get tested for free - you don't need insurance. Health leaders say African Americans make up about 24% of reported coronavirus cases in the state.

“You have to get tested - it's a life or death situation,” Bibbs adds.

Dr. Welch says everyone - no matter where you live - is welcome to this testing site, and you will not be turned away.

“We are going to bend over backwards to be able to respond to your concerns.”

Mayo says she hopes testing continues.

“If they want to do pop-ups, they need to make sure they have it available for more communities, not just one area that people can’t get to,” she adds.

For more on the testing event, click here.

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