UPDATE: COVID testing site set to open at Newton North Church on Tuesday

COVINGTON, Ga. – A Georgia Department of Public Health COVID-19 testing supersite is scheduled to open Tuesday, Jan. 25, in northern Newton County.

The Covington Church at 11975 Hwy. 142 North in Oxford will host the test site from Tuesday, January 25, with opening days and times Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Saturday, from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Daily lunch breaks for staff are scheduled from 12:30 p.m. to 1:00 p.m., said GNR Health spokesperson Chad Wasdin.

Viral Solutions will operate the site and appointments are recommended, the company said on its website. To register for the tests, visit https://patientportal.advancedmd.com/146518/onlinescheduling/existing.

The medical testing provider also operates testing supersites for the state health department at Stonecrest, Marietta and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Wasdin said Newton County Chairman Marcello Banes worked to connect state public health department officials with Covington Church pastor Daryl Hooper, who then worked out the details. setting up the test site.

“(Health department officials) visited the site with Viral Solutions to ensure the stream would work for their operational needs, and then we agreed on a start date,” Wasdin said.

Viral Solutions manages all aspects of the site, from staffing and collecting samples to producing test results, he said.

Insurance is not required, but Viral Solutions may request the person’s health insurance information to help cover the costs of the operation, Wasdin said.

“If the insurance does not cover the service, there will be no cost to the individual,” he said. “If someone doesn’t have proof of insurance, they can still take a test at no cost.”

He said queues were relatively short at other testing sites compared to previous weeks as demand for testing decreased and more testing sites opened.

The Newton testing supersite was selected following complaints from some officials about the county’s lack of a testing site.

Banes said earlier this month that health departments in Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale had contacted him about any potential sites for a testing facility.

He said he suggested the county-owned Gaither’s at Myrtle Creek Farm in rural south Newton as a potential site because it was the only public facility that had enough space for the expected traffic. cars.

The closest current mass testing site to Newton County is Springfield Baptist Church in Conyers.

Banes said in a statement, “COVID-19 continues to impact our families, businesses and community through the spread of this virus which has caused hundreds of deaths right here in Newton County.”

“I am very grateful to the Department of Public Health and all the work of Gwinnett, Newton and Rockdale Health Services in bringing this mass testing site to our community. This site will be essential in informing residents of Newton County if they have COVID-19 and preventing the spread in our community.

“Please use this and all available resources to work towards ending this pandemic,” Banes said.

Covington Church is located on Georgia Hwy. 142 North about half a mile north of City Pond Road.

A total of 16,411 Newton County residents had been reported as having confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 339 deaths as of Jan. 21, according to Georgia Department of Public Health records.

Newton County’s rate of confirmed cases over the past two weeks was 1,425 per 100,000 population, which was lower than the statewide rate of 1,793 per 100,000 for the same period.

Meanwhile, Newton County’s seven-day rolling average of confirmed cases fell from 176.9 from Dec. 26 to Jan. 2 to 93.3 from Jan. 14 to Jan. 21, the department reported.

Jerry B. Hatch