More than 500 Flint residents lined up their cars on the streets surrounding Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, moving slowly forward to get tested for COVID-19 on Sunday and today, Memorial Day.
They were greeted by State Rep. Cynthia Neeley, a driving force in organizing the two-day event at her home church, and her husband, Mayor Sheldon Neeley. Both in masks, they walked up and down the line of cars, chatting with residents and saying thank you to those who came out for the free, no-pre-requisite test.
The event was coordinated through a partnership of the City of Flint, the State of Michigan, the Michigan National Guard, and the Genesee County Health Department.
City officials said 223 people were tested Sunday and 299 today.
“This is awesome,” Mayor Neeley said, surveying the drive-through cavalcade at about 11:30 a.m. today — about a half hour into the testing. “We thought it might be lighter today because of the holiday, but just look!”
About 40 personnel and volunteers from the Michigan National Guard, the Health Department, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church, the City of Flint and the Michigan State Police went car to car taking brief identifying information, contact data, and supplying each resident with a tag for their sample.
Cars moved through three lines where National Guard technicians in full personal protective gear took the tag and inserted a long swab into one nostril. The procedure took less than 10 seconds.
[Note from Editor: My husband and I took the test today and while we found it an uncomfortable tickle far up into the sinuses, it did not hurt and was over quickly. We had arrived to a half-mile long line on North Street at 10 a.m., an hour before opening, but were done and home by 12:30 p.m.]
“This is evidence of what is possible with partnership. We are so appreciative of our state and county partners coming together to provide this testing opportunity to our community,” Mayor Neeley said. “Testing and teamwork are important tools we will continue to utilize to fight this deadly virus.”
As of Memorial Day, Genesee County had 1961 confirmed coronavirus cases and 242 deaths, the sixth highest number of cases among the state’s counties, and a greater number of cases than in six U.S. states.
Cumulative data indicate that 42 percent of cases and 48 percent of deaths in the county are African-American, while the county population as a whole is 20 percent African-American.
Those tested will be notified by the Genesee County Health Department of their results within about two days, the volunteers stated. Those who are positive will be contacted by phone; those who are negative will receive emails or texts.
In a followup press release, city officials stated there are at least 14 testing locations continuing to operate in Genesee County, including Hamilton Community Health Network on Clio Road, Michigan Health Specialists on Robert T. Longway Boulevard, Rite Aid on Clio Road and the Wal-Mart on Corunna Road.
More information on testing sites is available through the State of Michigan Test Finder site here.
Banner: volunteers taking information from Flint residents in the drive-through testing at Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church (Photo by Jan Worth-Nelson)
EVM Editor Jan Worth-Nelson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.